JAY, Vt. (WCAX) Another ribbon-cutting at Jay Peak Wednesday. Clips and Reels, a brand new indoor climbing center and cinema combo, opened at the Stateside Lodge complex. Local schoolkids got a special field trip to test it out!
"At first I wasn't really sure about it. I was just like, 'Oh, I'm going to be really scared about it.' And I was just like, 'Oh no.' But then once I climbed a few walls I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is so fun,'" said Laura Dematos of Montgomery.
It marks a new chapter for the resort, one that won't have as many ribbon-cuttings.
"This is the last on-campus piece of development that we have here," said Steve Wright, the general manager of Jay Peak.
Jay Peak has been under construction for about a decade, expanding from a mostly winter attraction to a four-season resort, adding a water park, hotels and more. New attractions that require more staff. They're fully staffed now at about 1,500 employees.
"Six and seven times the number of employees that we had a decade ago," Wright said.
But this month also marked an important milestone in Jay Peak's recovery from the EB-5 fraud scandal that put the resort's development-- and future-- in jeopardy. A recent settlement between Ariel Quiros and the federal government means the resort can finally start looking for a new buyer.
"There's no guarantee we'll sell it right away," said Michael Goldberg, the federal receiver.
Goldberg wouldn't say what price he thought the resort would fetch when they begin looking for buyers this summer. But he says years of investments, like the new climbing center, will allow them to get a competitive price.
"They will increase the profitability of the resort and that will increase the sale price. And we believe for the amount of the investment, the dollar amount, we could actually get five, six times that back in the sale price," Goldberg said.
He says dozens of potential buyers, nationally and internationally, have already shown up to take a look.
"We expect we'll get a very good price because it has a lot of interest," Goldberg said.
"I still believe the EB-5 program could be utilized, another economic tool in the toolbox," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.
Meanwhile, the state is still figuring out the future of EB-5 here. The federal government wants to shut down the regional EB-5 center. The state wants to protect other EB-5 projects that are in the works by winding it down. The governor says they're still waiting to hear back from the feds on that but he's hopeful for the future of development in the Northeast Kingdom.
"They've been through a lot but they've persevered. And I believe they're better off today than they were 10 years ago. And certainly more than two years ago," Scott said.
Jay Peak has a couple other additions in the works, including turf soccer fields that they will break ground on this spring, we're told they have a tournament scheduled for Labor Day, so they'll have them done by then. We are also told they're potentially looking at adding zip lines. All of these improvements, of course, designed to help them fill rooms in the off-season.