Harbor Properties Buys Into 4Th Ski Resort -- Operations Of 3 Areas To Be Combined

WENATCHEE - A majority share of the Mission Ridge Ski Area has been purchased by Harbor Properties, which recently bought the Schweitzer Mountain Resort in northern Idaho.

Harbor Properties, based in Seattle, also owns the Stevens Pass Ski Area and has a stake in the Arrowleaf resort development in the Methow Valley.

Robert Holmes, president and CEO of Harbor Properties, said plans call for a new company, Harbor Mountain, to own and operate Mission Ridge, Stevens Pass and Schweitzer, near Sandpoint, Idaho.

The company announced yesterday it had reached agreement to manage and buy the majority share of Mission Ridge. Terms were not disclosed.

Keith McCaw, owner of Mission Ridge Mountain, will remain an equity investor and limited partner in all three ski areas, said Steven Wood, a McCaw spokesman.

"There is great strength there," said Wood of combining the resources of McCaw, one of the wealthiest people in America, and Harbor Properties, owned by the prominent Bullitt family of Seattle.

"By combining all three (ski areas), there are some efficiencies there and some exciting things all three can achieve," Holmes said.

Harbor Properties also owns and manages a number of Seattle commercial and industrial developments, including Harbor Steps, a retail-office-residential project on the Seattle waterfront.

The company's chairman is Stimson Bullitt.

This past season, Mission Ridge, located 13 miles southwest of

Wenatchee, attracted 92,570 skier visits. Wood said the ski area has lost at least $500,000 each of the past four seasons.

Wood said McCaw has invested $8 million in Mission Ridge since acquiring the resort in 1992.

Discussions between Mission Ridge Mountain and Harbor Properties have been ongoing since November, Wood said.

Holmes said Harbor plans to offer discounts to skiers who visit two or more of the resorts.

In July, the company said it had offered about $18 million to take Schweitzer Mountain Resort out of receivership. Wood said McCaw is providing the equity for that transaction.

Last Thursday, two of Schweitzer's owners filed court papers attempting to halt or delay the sale to the Seattle company.

They contend the sale price is not a fair market value and not in the best interests of the owners or creditors.

Holmes said he hopes to complete the Schweitzer purchase this fall.