Moosehead Lake Ski Resort Redevelopment Facing Further Delays
The existing Big Squaw area has remained in operation this winter.
Saturday, March 12, 2022, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
The redevelopment of Big Squaw as Moosehead Lake Ski Resort is facing continued delays related to financing, the developer told the Piscataquis County Commissioners this week. The resort was previously proposing a 2023-24 opening date.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the cost of a new ski lift has increased by $1 million in the past year. Originally announced as a quad, the proposed new lift is now a high speed detachable six person chairlift.
Big Lake Development Company, LLC is operated by Perry Williams of Spruce Head, Maine. Williams was previously employed by Majella in 2017 during the Australian company's initial efforts to reopen Saddleback Mountain Resort. Provident Resources Group had been previously involved as working with Big Lake Development to procure funding. According to the Bangor Daily News, Big Lake Development disclosed a new funding mechanism through Barclays in December which may involve county bond backing and/or ownership at some stage. Barclays reportedly wants permitting in place before committing to financing.
Big Lake Development Company reportedly entered into an agreement to purchase the 1,200+ acre Big Squaw property in 2019. As of mid-December 2021, the deal has yet to close. According to the Bangor Daily News, Big Lake Development was issued a $385,000 loan two years ago by the Eastern Maine Development Corp.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Big Lake Development has extended its purchase and sale agreement with owner James Confalone 15 times. Confalone is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines related to unauthorized timber harvesting on the property. In addition, a judge recently ordered Confalone to place $3.8 million in escrow and obtain a $500,000 performance bond, related to the deterioration of the ski area.
The abandoned upper base area (2019)
Big Squaw has been owned since 1995 by Confalone, who operated the entire ski area until a March 2004 upper chairlift failure. The lower mountain ceased operations in 2010, sitting idle until The Friends of Squaw Mountain restored it for the 2012-13 season.
Squaw Mountain debuted in 1963 as a T-Bar served ski area, expanding its vertical drop to 1,700 feet with the installation of a double chairlift in 1967. In 1974, Scott Paper Company gave the resort to the State of Maine, which struggled with it for a dozen years before selling it in 1986. The resort subsequently went through a series of owners and operators until Confalone acquired it.
According to plans prepared in the spring of 2020, the upper base area would be redeveloped with a new hotel, base lodge, and brew pub built around a new quad chairlift (now a six-pack). A new snowmaking system would be fed by Mountain View Pond, located below the area. Non-ski attractions would include zip lines and a marina. Real estate development would include 108 condominiums, 315 townhomes, and 60 houses. 358 to 477 new jobs would be created.