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Wisp Resort owners file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

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The owners of a ski resort near Deep Creek Lake have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-law protection while they try to resolve financial difficulties related to another business.

DC Development LLC, which owns Wisp Resort in Garrett County, announced the filing Sunday.

The company has been unable to renegotiate the repayment of a $28.5 million loan with BB&T Corp. The loan was tied to the construction of an 18-hole golf course and community called Lodestone Golf Club. The golf club property, which is near the ski resort, has experienced lackluster sales of home sites.

DC Development — which filed for bankruptcy-law protection on Saturday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenbelt — said Chapter 11 protection would allow it to work out its loan restructuring and provide "breathing room needed to continue to seek new investors for the companies."

The owners had been considering options including refinancing and finding additional investors. Selling the ski property would be the last resort, the company said in a news release Sunday.

Karen Myers, one of the three partners in Wisp Resort, said in August that the resort was a "very healthy, vibrant, profitable business," but that the real estate business had been struggling. Myers could not be reached Monday.

Lisa Goodfellow, an associate broker with Goodfellow Real Estate Services, which specializes in Deep Creek Lake properties, said that since the recession, buyers were more inclined to purchase existing homes rather than new construction sites.

Citing sales data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Goodfellow said 42 lots were sold in Garrett County so far this year compared with 218 homes sold in the same period.

In 2004, 275 lots were sold in Garrett County.

Overall, Deep Creek Lake's housing market is doing well with few foreclosures and short sales, Goodfellow said.

"We're selling more homes than lots — [it's] as simple as that," she said, noting that the Lodestone golfing community came on the market in 2008, just as the financial crisis hit.

"It's not the fault of the Wisp," she said. "They are an excellent development company."

DC Development bought Wisp Resort for just under $12 million in 2001. The resort, which opened on Marsh Mountain in 1955, is a popular tourist destination.

Troy Ellington, president of the Deep Creek Lake Property Owners Association, said the ski resort is important in drawing tourists during the winter, while the lake is crucial during the summer.

"I know the ski resort is on schedule to open and I'm looking forward to skiing," Ellington said.

Wisp Resort said it expects to open Nov. 25 for ski season.

hanah.cho@baltsun.com

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