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Squaw/Alpine Ski Connect?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ran across an interesting article on Unofficial Networks via NPR about a potential connect between Squaw and Alpine. There is a guy that owns the land between the two who is refusing (for now) to sell. He makes $50k a year and has been offered 45 million for the land. 

 

 

 

Quote:

 Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows will connect some year soon.  Or will they?

Troy Caldwell owns the land between Squaw & Alpine (called White Wolf) & is still in the process of working out a deal with KSL (owners of Alpine & Squaw) to connect the two resorts.

Troy has been offered $45 million for his land in the past.  He said no.  Troy makes $50,000 or so a year.  Is this guy a little nuts?  Nope, he just has a vision and is determined to see it out…

Screen shot 2011 12 12 at 11.38.46 PM

White Wolf’s unstrung ski lift on the backside of KT-22

FULL TRANSCRIPT TO THIS NPR STORY:

Kai Ryssdal: The snow report from the Squaw Valley ski resort today up in Lake Tahoe is kinda eh — 96-inch base, nothing new in the past 24 hours. Spring conditions, it says, which are always a mixed bag.

That’s not a bad metaphor, actually, for the ski industry as a whole. There’s a lot of pressure to consolidate in the face of a weak economy. Here in California, two big resorts up in Tahoe want to merge and become the biggest ski area in the country. Just one thing stopping the deal: the guy who owns land in between.

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler has a profile of the man in the middle.


Jeff Tyler: This season, the Lake Tahoe ski resort Squaw Valley bought its neighbor — Alpine Meadows. Andy Wirth is CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings.

Andy Wirth:The two resorts combined provide over 6,000 ski-able acres within 10 minutes of each other. So they offer something that nobody else has in this marketplace. At least, in Northern California.

Tyler: I’m surprised that you didn’t say that it’s the biggest resort in the U.S., if you take them together.

Wirth: Well, that fundamentally inaccurate. We’re not connected. We’re not together as one resort. We connect the resorts with a convenient shuttle.

I tried taking that shuttle.

Tyler: OK. Here at the Squaw-Alpine bus stop at 2:01.

It took me 35 minutes to get from one resort to the other. And that only got me to the parking lot. But the ride doesn’t bother snowboarder Rusty Bailey.

Rusty Bailey: It’s nice to be able to ski both mountains whenever you want. Get a pass. Works at both places. Got a bus that goes in between. I think it’s really convenient.

No. What would be really convenient would be a chair-lift that connects one resort with the other. That’s likely to happen eventually. But it all depends on local landowner Troy Caldwell.

Troy Caldwell: We own a piece of property. It’s 460 acres. It lies between Squaw Valley ski area and Alpine Meadows ski area.

He paid less than half-a-million dollars for the land more than 20 years ago. To raise the money, the Caldwells liquidated everything.

Caldwell: We basically got rid of our home and our spec house and whatever we could to make it work. We ended up living in a trailer when we moved on the property.

That trailer was without electricity or running water for about six years. But no matter the hardship, Caldwell resisted offers to sell.

Caldwell: We’ve been offered in the $45 million category for it.

That’s right. He turned down $45 million so he could build his own minimal ski resort. He has no partners. Caldwell is building it on a budget of $50,000 to $60,000 a year.

Caldwell: But I own everything. I don’t have any mortgages. We’re able to make $50,000, $60,000 kind of work for us.

He does a few odd jobs, like parking cars for the Alpine Meadows resort. At the end of the day, Caldwell shuttles skiers to the parking lot in his own personal truck.

Caldwell: I’m going up you guys, if you need a ride. You got boots, poles. You got it all.

Caldwell is a multi-millionaire on paper. So why is he spending his time parking cars?

Caldwell: The ski areas pay us to park the cars there. And that’s also a good source of revenue for us.

He also saves money when people like retired banker Pete Crosby volunteer to work on his planned ski resort, called White Wolf.

Pete Crosby: Like Troy told me, he said, “If I get a lot of cash in my wallet, it’s not good when I’m driving my car because it bothers my back.” So he said, “I don’t need a fat wallet.”

Caldwell resists taking a partner because he doesn’t want to sacrifice control. That would be a smart move, says ex-banker Pete Crosby, who used to work with entrepreneurs speculating on real estate development.

Crosby: They want to take control. They’ve got a lot of money invested in it. They want to control it. And they’re going to impose their own ideas. In many cases, they’ll change it substantially. Primarily for economic reasons.

Caldwell doesn’t seem to let economic considerations affect his plans. When he runs out of money, he puts his project on hold. He expects it could take another 10-15 years to get his ski resort going. Squaw Valley management hopes it won’t take that long to strike a deal with Caldwell.

http://unofficialnetworks.com/npr-story-squawalpine-connect-troy-caldwell-offered-45-million-white-wolf-96818/

post #2 of 21

This is sort of an odd take on the whole situation. There are three components to the whole puzzle: (1) ability of KSL to purchase White Wolf, (2) getting the right permits to built connector lifts and develop terrain; and (3) the capital to build the chairlifts and the said infrastructure. Unfortunately they are all intertwined to some degree.  

 

For the people who don't follow the topic too closely- White Wolf (Troys' land) has a permit that limits the number of skiers to a very small number per day, that's one of the reason that there was not more development there.  There is however, a string of lift towers that goes from roughly Apline parking lot to the top of KT22, (which by the way Troy also owns and leases to Squaw).  The rumor has it that the previous Squaw owner (Cushing family) and Caldwell butted heads big time, so the new owners may have an easier time persuading Troy Caldwell to sell.  

 

In my view the sale is just a matter of time, there is way too much incentive for KSL to get that land, install a chairlift or two and a build a proper Tahoe flagship mega-resort.  Shuttle bus connections are not a good solution, and unless they build a chairlift (or run a high-speed train base-to-base:-) Squaw and Alpine would never feel like one mountain.  KSL knows that and I have no doubt that they are working on persuading Troy to sell. Troy was on-hand for the Cushing Crossing this year, FWIIW, it was a sign that the relationship hasn't yet gone sour.  Hopefully he is just holding out for a better price, and why should not he.

 

Ideally I would love to see a high-speed 8 passenger gondola (funitel?) to replace the existing KT22 lift or run parallel to it, continue all the way to Apline parking lot and make the top of KT22 a mid station.  That would connect the mountains base to base, would help to solve the storm days cluster&ck problems (by doubling or tripling the existing lift capacity on KT22, and give people a quick and beautiful way to travel between the two areas.  We can only dream... 

post #3 of 21

The Wikipedia article actually has some good background and links to other articles.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Wolf_Mountain

 

As far as the $50,000/year quote.  I think perhaps that might not include whatever he is charging for the lease for kt22, but just my guess...

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

The Wikipedia article actually has some good background and links to other articles.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Wolf_Mountain

 

As far as the $50,000/year quote.  I think perhaps that might not include whatever he is charging for the lease for kt22, but just my guess...

 

From your wiki article: "In December 2011 KSL paid for Caldwell to study ski resort development in the American West. He visited JacksonVailAspenSnowmassButtermilkAspen HighlandsBeaver CreekSteamboatGrand Targhee, & Big Sky. KSL footed the bill for that on-site research and Caldwell said of the trip, “(KSL) treated us like kings and queens.”

 

Sounds like this dude is just gonna milk Squaw for everything they're worth.  Good for himroflmao.gif

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by NextSkiBum View Post

 

From your wiki article: "In December 2011 KSL paid for Caldwell to study ski resort development in the American West. He visited JacksonVailAspenSnowmassButtermilkAspen HighlandsBeaver CreekSteamboatGrand Targhee, & Big Sky. KSL footed the bill for that on-site research and Caldwell said of the trip, “(KSL) treated us like kings and queens.”

 

Sounds like this dude is just gonna milk Squaw for everything they're worth.  Good for himroflmao.gif

Don't be naive.  No one milks KSL for anything, they are a successful private equity firm, and they know how to count.  

post #6 of 21

My guess is that KSL will find more success with the US Forest Service than with Troy.  There is a way from Squaw to Alpine that bypasses White Wolf.  It might be longer and flatter, but putting some sort of mechanized transport there would be the path of least resistance.

post #7 of 21

This is true that there could be another way to get from Alpine to Squaw; on the other hand the economic drive to absorb White Wolf terrain into the Squaw/Alpine is just too strong, and I doubt that development of White Wolf in some way was not in the KSL's game plan.  I heard rumors that Troy is just holding out for more money, that would make a lot more sense to me, as he hold the key piece to the KSL's vision of the Tahoe's only mega-resort. 

post #8 of 21

I'm not really sure how much money KSL really wants to/can spend.  If they were dripping in cash, why not keep Squaw open past April 29th?  If $45 million isn't enough for Troy, how much does he want?  100?  That's a lot of money for south-facing terrain and it would mean KSL would have to sell a whole lot more condos and really jack up prices to make up for it.

 

If, however, Squaw, finds another way to connect with Alpine, Troy's leverage is greatly reduced.  KSL could just wait for him or his heirs to need the money.

post #9 of 21

Why does everyone feel KSL must BUY the land from Troy? They already lease the top of KT. They could lease the rest if they/he wanted to set it up that way. Or they could just let Troy develop the land/lifts and work out some sort of cooperative agreement to allow skiers to use the lifts/trails.

 

FWIW, I heard from Troy that they're also looking at digging a tunnel. That would be pretty cool, but I can't imagine it actually happening. Tahoe folks can barely get their heads around widening the mousehole in Truckee, can you imagine the enviros allowing a tunnel under KT?

 

My prediction is it is only a matter of time before they work this out. Troy will sell/lease the land to KSL. Doppelmayr will be brought in to build a real lift of some sort. It will either replace the existing WW towers or be a Funnytel thingy that uses the top of KT or the Saddle as a midstation and then connects back to the bottom of Squaw. If Tahoe gets the 2022 Olympics, I bet it happens in time for that. In the meantime, the short bus shuttle with JT videos works just fine for now.

 

Oh, and I'd like to see Treat's cookie pie served at Wildflour, and Wildflour's cookies served at Treats. And why don't they make the Chalet into a decent sized sit-down restaurant? That would be an awesome lunch destination for folks starting/staying in Squaw if the interconnect ever happens.

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

Don't be naive.  No one milks KSL for anything, they are a successful private equity firm, and they know how to count.  

 

I wouldn't be so sure about that.  Any equity firm like KSL has a large amount of capital, and now it's just up to them to put their money where their mouth is if they really want the second biggest resort in North America.

post #11 of 21

KSL has investors, and investors want a return.  Every time KSL pours one more million into Squaw, they have to think about who's going to buy Squaw from them for an additional two million.  If you put too much in, the pool of potential buyers gets pretty small.

post #12 of 21

Yeah, I think some sort of a lease lift/share agreement is also likely.  For example, KSL can help Troy build lifts in exchange for the right to use them. Tunnel is actually not out of the question, this is what Snowbird built (AKA the infamous Basshole).  I don't think enviros care much about it- it is not destroying forests or defacing natural terrain, in some ways it is clean and efficient.  

 

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Sinecure is right, KSL and Troy will work it out sooner or later, what becomes of White Worlf is less clear but Alpine and Squaw will be connected.  Unlike Sinecure I hate the shuttle bus with JT videos, its the best possible solution right now and they made it as convenient as they could with minimal walking etc, but in the future I'd like to use a lift. 

 

P.S.  DON'T MESS WITH OUR WILDFLOUR COOKIES!!!!hopmad.gif

 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post

Why does everyone feel KSL must BUY the land from Troy? They already lease the top of KT. They could lease the rest if they/he wanted to set it up that way. Or they could just let Troy develop the land/lifts and work out some sort of cooperative agreement to allow skiers to use the lifts/trails.

 

FWIW, I heard from Troy that they're also looking at digging a tunnel. That would be pretty cool, but I can't imagine it actually happening. Tahoe folks can barely get their heads around widening the mousehole in Truckee, can you imagine the enviros allowing a tunnel under KT?

 

My prediction is it is only a matter of time before they work this out. Troy will sell/lease the land to KSL. Doppelmayr will be brought in to build a real lift of some sort. It will either replace the existing WW towers or be a Funnytel thingy that uses the top of KT or the Saddle as a midstation and then connects back to the bottom of Squaw. If Tahoe gets the 2022 Olympics, I bet it happens in time for that. In the meantime, the short bus shuttle with JT videos works just fine for now.

 

Oh, and I'd like to see Treat's cookie pie served at Wildflour, and Wildflour's cookies served at Treats. And why don't they make the Chalet into a decent sized sit-down restaurant? That would be an awesome lunch destination for folks starting/staying in Squaw if the interconnect ever happens.

post #13 of 21

It'll happen one way or the other.  KSL is clearly very motivated to connect the resorts.  On that note, did the interconnect that they smoothed with a cat ever actually open this spring?  I know it kept getting delayed with warmer weather making the snow over there unstable, but never heard about anyone using it.

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

  There is however, a string of lift towers that goes from roughly Apline parking lot to the top of KT22, (which by the way Troy also owns and leases to Squaw).   

Roughly, yeah I guess that is one way to say. Considering that the Alpine parking lot is roughly another half mile or more up the road. 

post #15 of 21

It WILL happen. KSL didn't come this far and spend this much $$ NOT to become the largest ski resort in the US, and taking that claim away from Vail.

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

It'll happen one way or the other.  KSL is clearly very motivated to connect the resorts.  On that note, did the interconnect that they smoothed with a cat ever actually open this spring?  I know it kept getting delayed with warmer weather making the snow over there unstable, but never heard about anyone using it.

I believe it was briefly open. Either direction involved a lot of uphill, but it would be doable with some kind of mechanical transport.  I wonder if the reason they did it was to show Troy that they didn't have to use his land. 

Here's some wild speculation--suppose KSL were to buy a whole lot of land right off 89 between Squaw and Alpine and run gondolas up to Squaw and Alpine from there, a little like Blackcomb and Whistler?

Personally, if KSL is looking to drop money I'd like to see a high speed lift that can run in high wind up Scott--the best storm skiing at Alpine, when it's open. Might take a little bit of pressure off KT. 

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

I believe it was briefly open. Either direction involved a lot of uphill, but it would be doable with some kind of mechanical transport.  I wonder if the reason they did it was to show Troy that they didn't have to use his land. 

Here's some wild speculation--suppose KSL were to buy a whole lot of land right off 89 between Squaw and Alpine and run gondolas up to Squaw and Alpine from there, a little like Blackcomb and Whistler?

Personally, if KSL is looking to drop money I'd like to see a high speed lift that can run in high wind up Scott--the best storm skiing at Alpine, when it's open. Might take a little bit of pressure off KT. 

 

I think it was on his land still, or at least partly, and I thought I read that Caldwell was involved in grooming the path.  He knows KSL has to use his land anyway, since he owns the top of KT and they lease that from him.  ;-)

post #18 of 21
The bartender in the Rocker last night said a deal had been reached with Troy. I believe her because she recommended the Voodoo beer and it was great. Wild rumor start?!
Eric
post #19 of 21

What were you doing in the Rocker?  That place blows!

post #20 of 21
The beer was good and the people were friendly. The place was hopping. I don't have a problem. Plus it is a fun rumor the bartender hinted at! I hope it's true.
Eric
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquawBrat View Post

What were you doing in the Rocker?  That place blows!

 

Do you mean the food?  The bar itself is okay.  Granted, any place where you can sit and drink beer on tap is good enough for me, so maybe my standards are low.

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