November 4, 2013
Greek Peak shows off upgrades
New owners gearing up for season with $3.8M in improvements
VIRGIL — With overcast fall skies, the new owners of Greek Peak Mountain Resort welcomed season ski pass holders to the mountain Saturday to ask questions and witness recent renovations.
Elmira-based owners John Meier and Marc Stemerman bought the Virgil-based resort in an April auction for $7.6 million.
The open house was held in the renovated repair and tuning shop, one of a number of improvements Meier and Stemerman have overseen since purchasing Greek Peak.
The most recent addition to commence construction was the mountain’s new quad chairlift. The first tower for the lift was erected on Wednesday and the project should be completed by Dec. 14.
“Everything we’ve done in the past six months has been towards making it a premier resort,” Stemerman said.
Season pass holders were excited to see the changes brought about by new ownership. Keith and Lura Good of Elysburg, Pa., own a home near the resort and gave the new renovations good reviews.
“We’re excited,” Lura Good said. “It’s fantastic that there’s new blood in the mountain.”
Good, 31, said she has been skiing at Greek Peak with her family her whole life. Keith Good has been skiing at the resort for eight years.
“I hope to come for another 51,” Good said.
In addition to the improvement to the ski amenities, a new $1.2 million restaurant “Trax” was constructed in the main lodge, which will specialize in brick oven pizza. The restaurant, in the midst of renovations, is slated for a Nov. 22 opening.
Guests of the open house wandered through the restaurant space, which will include a to-go window and pizza bar.
“We’re excited,” Stemerman said. “It’s nice to see people walk through the construction site that’s been your life for the past six months.”
With the ski season on the horizon, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Plans for an outdoor deck have been delayed as new snow making equipment, the lift and the ski shop are being put in place or finished up.
The indoor improvements, including bathroom renovations, were welcome news to Linda Whitcraft. While she does not ski, Whitcraft, of New Hope, Pa., helps take care of the family when they come in from a day on the slopes.
“It looks great,” Whitcraft said. “I know my family is very excited.”
Meier said that the success for the venture has been tied to a good working relationship with Cortland County.
“We’ve had nothing but a positive experience with the county IDA (Industrial Development Agency),” Meier said. “This wouldn’t have happened without their support.”
Greek Peak withdrew its initial payment in lieu of taxes agreement brought before the IDA in July after it was deemed too long and generous.
That agreement was for 15 years of sales tax abatement, property tax abatement and mortgage tax exemption totaling $4.1 million in tax breaks while promising to maintain 75 jobs.
In August, Greek Peak was awarded $330,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks for $3.8 million worth of improvements in 2013 and 2014.
Meier said he and Stemerman are excited to keep improving the mountain but will run the resort the way they run their Elmira-based businesses.
“We know we have to stay cash-flow positive,” Meier said. “We’re a couple of local businessmen that spent 12 to 13 weekends of our personal life here.”
The owners spend two days a week at the resort and had high praise for their management staff. The resort has 31 managers, many of whom are holdovers from the previous administration.
Stemerman and Meier were uncertain what to expect inheriting a staff from a business that went bankrupt but were pleasantly surprised.
“We have a talented staff,” Stemerman said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
While the open house was the headlining event, it was a busy weekend at Greek Peak. The resort’s Race Club Annual Ski Sale and Swap was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as a weekend-long job fair.
Meier said the resort was hoping to hire 340 people for seasonal positions as the mountain gears up for snow.
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