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Once upon a time in history: Of patience and progress

"There would need to be an amenity plan, too... another step is to consider what we need to offer guests," Selbo noted. He envisions a sports center with spa, pool, et-cetera in the vicinity of the golf course clubhouse. And perhaps a waterpark or some other amenity on another parcel.

Editor's note: This is Part 5 in a series that brings an historical perspective on Killington Village up to date.

While Les Otten had made progress in the late 1990s with: an Act 250 permit for a conceptual master plan for a base village for Killington; a "growth center" designation that paved the way for development; and the hotel and conference center, a problem was looming which would stall fulfillment of well-intended plans.
In 1997 Otten had thrown his innate good sense to the wind and listened to the siren song of go west young man and go public. He had also formed ASC Resort Properties (ASCRP), a real estate arm that could borrow huge sums by using its considerable land holdings  as asset collateral for developing hotels (quartershare condos) at five resorts. With ASCRP in default, a $150 million investment in stock by Oak Hill Capital Partners was seen as a way to stabilize the company. When further planning and spending didn't resolve debt problems to Oak Hill's satisfaction, ASC began to divest properties and Killington was sold, setting in motion yet another village plan, the fifth since 1967.

Back to the Future
No stranger to a cold climate, SP Land President Steve Selbo was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, the fifth of five children.

Used to being asked "Fargo, as in the movie," he readily volunteers that one of his childhood babysitters played the role of the wife who gets murdered in the movie.

Like his siblings, Selbo went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where for a time he was on the swim team. He received a degree in Business Administration in 1981.

In his first job, he worked in commercial real estate lending at BA Mortgage of Texas, a division of Bank of America. Later, he worked in "loan workout," handling non-performing loans, a challenge that requires ingenuity, patience, and perseverance - good practice for future work in Killington!

Selbo moved to Atlanta to work with BankBoston's National Real Estate Division in September 1990. BankBoston eventually merged into Fleet Bank. During his time in BankBoston/Fleet, he had gotten involved with the banking side of residential and resort real estate development and worked with several of the nation's top-twenty home developers.

In February 2002, he was asked to work on the ASCRP loan, a challenging case which had eluded resolution and required a fresh perspective. Selbo became familiar with ASCRP's capital structure, including the ASCRP subordinated debt, a majority of which was held by Ski Partners 2000, a group of Dallas based investors managed by Eiger, Inc. Both the ASCRP senior and subordinated debt had been in and out of default for some time prior to Selbo's involvement.

Teaming up with one of the founding partners of Eiger, Paul Rowsey, Selbo began working with executives from ASC to resolve ASCRP's debt issues. This work included partial land collateral releases for cash at Heavenly Valley and Steamboat and the Canyons collateral swap for the land at Killington Resort. As part of the debt restructure, ASCRP deeded the reconfigured land collateral (469 acres) at Killington Resort to SP Land Company, majority owned by Ski Partners.

New Job
In May of 2004, Selbo was approached by Rowsey, who was also chairman of Ski Partners, to head up SP Land Company as its president and to develop a village plan for Killington. Selbo moved to the area in August 2004 with his wife Stacy and their three sons, eventually settling in Bridgewater.

Having looked over the original ASC Master Plan and a Marriott Vacation Club proposal, Selbo began work with Hart Howerton, a resort architectural and land-planning firm. However, that was put on hold when builder Centex Destination Properties (CDP) approached SP Land about a phased buy-out of SP Land's holdings at Killington Resort. CDP was developing real estate projects at Loon Mountain Resort (NH) and throughout the U.S. as a division of Centex Homes, a national top-five homebuilder.

Selbo stayed on to look after SP Land interests as this was a phased project. During this time, CDP started talks with the resort to obtain the Ramshead parking lot, which it felt was needed to provide a better base village. But in June 2006, CDP, having foreseen the coming housing issues, decided to end its ski-resort development work and withdrew from the Killington project. (CDP was dissolved and Centex, which had overextended with land purchases, was eventually bought out.)

Re-engaging Hart Howerton, Selbo resumed work on the village planning. ASC's new CEO William J. Fair who had been 'righting the ASC ship' under Oak Hill's by-now majority ownership of the company, had preliminarily agreed to review the sale of the Ramshead lot to SP Land. But the next call SP Land received concerned a different offer.

ASC was divesting its properties and was offering to sell its Killington assets to SP Land. Since SP Land was not in the ski area business, it began to look for someone who was. While many operators, including Intrawest, "kicked the tires," Powdr Corp, a privately held ski company based in Utah, showed  real interest in the resort. (Powdr CEO John Cumming said in a 2008 interview that he had always been interested in Killington.)

While facilitating the transition of mountain assets ownership from ASC (2006-07), Selbo worked with Powdr Corp and Hart Howerton to modify the skier access plan for the village to one preferred by Powdr. This included a ski bridge (over the road) and Ski Beach concept and shifted the village to the north. Because Powdr wanted to retain the Upper Snowshed parking lot, SP Land ended up as owner of the Vale lot.

He also arranged for SP Land to own the Ramshead Lot and other parcels of land which brought land for the village core to 303 acres. The overall resort acquisition increased SP Land holdings to 1310 acres in and around Killington Resort and Pico Mountain.

With the original ASC Conceptual Master Plan not being renewed, Selbo next began the Conceptual Master Plan (PUD) permit process with the Town of Killington. He encountered a waiting period as a review of the plan by LandWorks had been ordered by the selectmen. That report was eventually declared null and void by the town, and in fall of 2008, Selbo proceeded to workshops for input as to the conceptual plan. Gaining a positive reception/comments, he filed the Village PUD with the town in 2009 and Golf Course PUD in 2010. Gaining those new master plan approvals, he set about raising money from investors to fund the Act 250 effort of Phase I of the Killington Village Master Plan.

During this time new town zoning regulations had to be written, and Selbo participated on the committee to review and recommend new guidelines to be consistent with the Environmental Court's rulings of September 2010. During the last five years, he has also been to the Environmental Court twice, the Vermont Supreme Court once (regarding the Act 250 subdivision of property as granted to ASC), and the Vermont Federal District Court (on the ski pass lawsuit).

Selbo turned his attention to Phase I design in 2011, working with 25 consulting firms to finalize the plan, including Act 250 consultant Stephanie Hainley who coordinated the drafting and presentation of the Act 250 application. SP Land presented an Act 250 application for permits for the Master Plan and Phase I construction permits (for 193 village residential units, a skier services building, 30,000 square feet of commercial space in the village, and 32 home lots at Ramshead) on February 28, 2012. With the hearings held recently, he is now working on responding to Recess Order requests for more information.

If Act 250 permits are granted for Phase I, infrastructure construction - roads, water, sewer - would not start before 2014 as there is much work to be done (marketing, financing, finalizing construction-level documents, hiring contractors, et-cetera).

He also said that while the conceptual master plan calls for 2,300 units, it would likely take "25 to 30 years of sustained development," given economy swings and new products and trends that would be utilized to keep things fresh.

"There would need to be an amenity plan, too," Selbo noted, saying "another step is to consider what we need to offer guests." He envisions a sports center with spa, pool, et-cetera in the vicinity of the golf course clubhouse. And perhaps a waterpark or some other amenity on another parcel.

Asked about his patience with so many changes in direction to his job of planning a village, Selbo says, it's definitely been an "interesting nine years" while acknowledging that he never envisioned it taking this long to get to the permit process and admitting to some frustrations.

But he also believes the goal is a good one, saying, "The foundation Pres Smith put together of a tremendous ski experience deserves an accompanying residential experience for guests. The way to do that is to get a meaningful development process moving. I believe it will extend the lifeblood of the resort another fifty years."

Tagged: Killington, Rowsey