With an eye to expand Carbon County’s overnight lodging options, the leader of Blue Mountain Ski Area is planning to use tax increment financing to fund infrastructure for a condo/hotel project.
Barbara Green, president of Blue Mountain Ski Area, presented the plan for a multistory condominium hotel at the Lower Towamensing Township resort in 2016.
Now that the project has earned planning approvals as well as TIF support from the school district, county and township, it could move forward shortly.
In Pennsylvania, a redevelopment or industrial development authority can encourage development an eligible TIF project. With this type of project, a developer can take property taxes attributable to future development and use all, or a portion of them, to pay down debt service on a loan that would cover improvements related to the project. The existing taxes paid on the property continue to get paid throughout the life of the TIF.
Kathy Henderson, director of economic development for the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corp., said representatives from the county, school district and township are forming a TIF committee to get the project moving forward.
The $35 million project calls for a five-story building, with the top floor for condominium development and the rest for hotel rooms, Henderson said.
“Our county is a largely tourist-based, economic driven, so we are in desperate need of accommodations,” Henderson said.
Carbon County only has about four hotels that are always filled, she added.
“It’s not just in the winter season either,” Henderson said. “It’s now a four-season tourist county.”
TIF is the same type of funding mechanism that helped fund projects such as Kalahari Resorts in Tobyhanna Township and Camelback Resort’s expansion in Tannersville.
“I felt it was a perfect fit for Barb’s project,” Henderson said.
The money from the TIF will fund infrastructure improvements and roadways that will benefit not just the resort but the township, she added.
“It’s merely an economic tool in the toolbox to grow the area,” Henderson said.
Through the Vista Lodge Residence Club, which would be the name of the hotel, Blue Mountain would offer people the opportunity to buy or rent condos.
Residences would range from studio, one, two and three bedrooms and be furnished and professionally decorated with full kitchens.
Upscale amenities include an indoor/outdoor heated pool, fitness room, owner’s clubroom, private storage lockers and adjoining restaurant and lounge. Valet parking, bell service, owner concierge, room service, 24/7 front desk and spa services are examples of the types of services the resort wants to offer.