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Bank scuttles sale of Val Chatel, cuts off negotiations

Potential buyers of a defunct ski resort north of Park Rapids say their bid was rejected by the bank that owns the property, even though the buyers met the bank's price.

"There was never a signed purchase agreement," said State Bank President Marty Peterson of the Val Chatel property.

Restore House, a long-term chemical dependency treatment facility, has been negotiating for the property for months, they told the board in letters addressed throughout the fall. Officials from Restore House told the Hubbard County Board two weeks ago they were closing on the 180 acres north of Emmaville "any day."

"They can say anything they want to say," Peterson said, declining to discuss specifics of the deal while acknowledging the bank had rejected the non-profit's latest offer and will not negotiate any further.

Mary Greer, program director for Restore House, called the Enterprise over the Christmas holiday to say the faith-based group was very disappointed at what she viewed as the bank's refusal to sell.

According to real estate ads, the property was initially listed for $950,000. It was recently advertised at the reduced price of $875,000.

Greer said after negotiations, the bank was willing to accept a $650,000 offer, which was then proffered.

The bank refused, she said, acknowledging the lack of a purchase agreement.

"Of course there wouldn't be if they didn't accept our offer," Greer said.

"We were coming to a close," she added. "They offered, we counter-offered" and finally agreed to "what they put on the table. That was $650,000."

Greer said she didn't want to dissect the failed transaction, but said the bank was done negotiating with the group on the project.

"We're very saddened that the bank did not go with our offer," she said. "We wanted to rekindle and improve and polish up the buildings that were there. We wanted to provide jobs for people. We felt like we would be an asset to the Park Rapids community and we would be sad to see those buildings demolished, whoever is going to be buying it."

The county board gave its blessing last month to the concept.

Greer's phone rang during the Dec. 19 board meeting and she expressed hope during that open session it was the bank calling to accept the last offer and set a closing date.

"We're grieved that the bank didn't accept the offer," Greer said.

Peterson declined to discuss why the bank wouldn't sell to the non-profit.

Restore House's realtor, Candy Gulsvig, said she couldn't discuss the matter.

"It's confidential," she said.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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