Eyes on the prize

CHERRY CREEK – Three local parties have shown interest in purchasing Cockaigne Ski Area.

Andy Goodell, the attorney leading the sale of Cockaigne, said the owner, Jack VanScoter, is in discussions with three different entities or groups interested in exploring options of reopening the ski resort.

“All three groups are local, and they all bring different skills that would be a benefit to reopening Cockaigne,” Goodell said, who is also a New York state assemblyman. “There are people with ski experience, people with construction experience and people in entertainment who have been successful.”

Goodell said VanScoter is very interested in local ownership of the ski resort.

“One reason they (VanScoter) have made such a long-term commitment to Cockaigne is they have tremendous loyalty to the local community, and the dedicated employees. Many employees have worked there for decades every winter, and they would be anxious to come back and continue working there.”

In November 2012, Goodell said zoning regulations in the town of Cherry Creek were being updated to allow for a year-round resort at Cockaigne. Goodell said the property is not only being marketed as a ski resort, but also for the possibility of horseback riding, a water park and other summer activities.

“I know two of the three parties are interested in developing a year-round operation,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities in that regard. The county is putting together a horse trail that will stretch 30 to 40 miles, and Cockaigne is in the middle of it. There are other opportunities for other seasonal events like band concerts, wedding receptions, hiking and other outdoor activities.”

Goodell said, at this point, no firm offers have been made – they are still only in the discussion stage. However, one group has prepared preliminary schematics to show what the new lodge would look like at Cockaigne.

On Jan. 24, 2011, Cockaigne’s Austrian World’s Fair ski lodge burned to the ground. In November 2011, VanScoter said he would be selling the ski area because he was not going to rebuild a lodge for the ski resort.

“Because the old lodge was destroyed in the fire, the new owners would have to build a new lodge,” Goodell said. “This gives the new owners an opportunity to put their own flavor on the ski resort. They can select whatever type of theme they would like to run with, and implement it without the burden of an old lodge.”

Goodell said the owner is exploring all purchasing options. He said whatever group has a solid proposal first will have an advantage on any other interested party. As far as skiing this upcoming winter at Cockaigne, Goodell said he doesn’t know for sure, but it would be difficult to complete a deal with a new owner and be open this year.