February 24, 2014

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Powder Mountain Undergoing Big Changes Following Acquisition

By Rachel Madison

February 24, 2014

Weber County’s Powder Mountain has undergone a major facelift since it’s acquisition by the Summit Series team in May 2013. The once sleepy mountain town continues to change as the group works to make it a destination for entrepreneurs, philanthropists and artists.

Greg Mauro, chairman of Powder Mountain and Summit Mountain Holding Group, spoke to members of Utah’s Urban Land Institute Thursday to tell the acquisition story and showcase what the group plans to do with the mountain.

The Summit Series, started about five years ago by a group of twenty-something entrepreneurs, Elliott Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal and Jeremy Schwartz, hosts lavish annual conferences for entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, nonprofit leaders and other change makers with the mission to “spawn new business ideas, tackle global issues, and, in turn, make our world a better place,” according to the Summit Series website.

Mauro had been skiing on Powder Mountain for several years, and when he found out it was for sale, knew it would be the perfect location for the Summit Series to take root.

“I found out the resort was for sale and I was horrified that it was that big and the prior developer had basically gotten into a battle with the locals because they were trying to create a township, so we stepped in,” he said.

After a 20-month long process, the team closed a $40 million deal to become the owners of Powder Mountain, the largest ski resort in the country by skiable acreage. The Summit team raised the $40 million from more than 40 people, including Virgin billionaire Richard Branson, actress and activist Sophia Bush and professional snowboarder and Olympian Danny Davis. The group also secured an $18.5 million bond from Weber County to help finance some of the initial road, water and sewer infrastructure.

Doug Larsen, economic development director for Weber County, said the reason the county was driven to participate financially in the project is because of what the Summit Series stands for.

“It’s been an interesting project that has consumed our world for a year plus, but we’re happy to have it in front of us,” he said. “As we got to know one another and understand what Summit was about, the primary drivers for the county to participate financially was really their approach to the consciousness of the environment and their ability to market and promote the resort.”

Future plans the Summit Series has for Powder Mountain include hundreds of single family homes (up to 4,000 square feet in size), a village with numerous art galleries and boutiques, a condo hotel and a members-only lodge. Mauro said he expects the mountain to be like a “mini-Telluride,” with everything from 1,000-square-foot cabins to million dollar homes, and places like ceramics shops, boutique coffee cafés and yoga studios.

“It’ll be a very unusual and different Main Street experience,” he said.

Mauro said most of the mountain will remain untouched, allowing for acres and acres of open skiing. The group does not have plans to litter the mountain with new ski lifts or golf courses.

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