More than four years after it closed, the Saddleback Mountain ski resort has been sold and is expected to reopen in 2020 under the ownership of a Boston investment company.

The Berry family, which has owned Maine’s third-largest ski area since 2003, released a statement Thursday night saying it has reached an agreement with Arctaris Impact Fund of Boston to sell the resort in Sandy River Plantation, near the town of Rangeley.

Andy Shepard, who will be Saddleback’s new general manager, said Arctaris plans to reopen for skiing sometime between Thanskgiving and Christmas of 2020.

The sale price was not disclosed, but Shepard said Arctaris is making a significant investment that will result in the replacement of the antiquated Rangeley Double chairlift with a high-speed quad chair, installation of a new T-bar, modernization of the base lodge that will include a new kitchen and bathrooms on the third floor, expanded daycare and retail space, and new equipment to increase snowmaking capacity.

Shepard said the high-speed quad lift will reduce waiting lines and contribute to what he hopes will be “an exceptional” downhill skiing experience.

“We are all very thankful for the remarkable effort that the Berry family made to bring Saddleback into the 21st century. We want to build on what they started,” Shepard said in a telephone interview Thursday night.

Saddleback, which is Maine’s eighth-highest mountain with an elevation of 4,120 feet, offers 2,000 vertical feet of vertical skiing and some of the toughest expert terrain in the East, the Berrys said their release Thursday. In the 12 years that they operated the resort, they said annual skier visits increased from 15,000 to more than 110,000.

The resort is planning to hire 200 to 240 full- and part-time employees, Shepard said, adding that the project will create new jobs and provide a significant boost to the Franklin County economy. At its peak, Saddleback was the county’s largest employer.

“We want to become one of New England’s iconic ski resorts and we’re excited to be in the company of resorts like Sugarloaf and Sunday River,” said Shepard, who will serve as CEO of the redevelopment effort.

He promised to divulge more details about Arctaris’ development plan after the sale closes in mid-December.

Shepard resigned in July from his post as chief executive officer of the Outdoor Sport Institute, which focuses on strengthening rural communities through sport and outdoor exploration.

Arctaris targets its investments on underserved communities, such as inner cities and rural areas where economic development and job creation are lacking.

The two parties have been in bumpy negotiations since 2018, when the investment company announced interest in buying Saddleback. The resort had been Rangeley’s largest employer and a significant tourist destination. The Berrys announced they were selling the ski area in July 2015.

On Thursday, it appeared that the sides had resolved their differences and are committed to restoring Saddleback to its former status.

“In 2014-2015 when the Berrys determined that major capital expenditures were necessary for the continued operation of the mountain, they decided to look for a buyer who had the resources and vision to continue the revitalization that the family started,” the Berry family said in their statement.

The release said that the family had invested more than $40 million in improvements since it purchased the resort in 2003.

Rumors about potential buyers surfaced constantly after it closed. One potential buyer, an Australian developer, dropped out of the picture after its CEO, Sebastian Monsour, was arrested in that country. Arctaris first expressed an interest in Saddleback in 2018.

“This beautiful mountain has so much potential and it looks like the buyer has a strong plan moving forward. We are excited for the acquisition to be complete for the Saddleback resort community and the entire Rangely area,” Dawn Klein, the real estate broker for the Berry family, said in a statement.

Portland attorney Severin Beliveau, who is representing the Berry family, said he has owned a home in the Rangeley area for 50 years and has seen firsthand what the ski resort means to the people who live there and to the economy of Franklin County. He said news of the sale has people excited.

“I know the people and have seen how they have suffered,” Beliveau said. “The ski resort was the economic engine that drove the region.”

 

 

 

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