CHERRY CREEK - An area which was once only known for skiing may become a year-round recreational resort.
Cherry Creek officials, with the help of the county Planning Department, have amended the town's zoning laws to allow for the potential development of a year-round resort at the location of Cockaigne Ski Area. Andrew Goodell, attorney leading the sale of Cockaigne and state Assemblyman, said prior to the zoning law amendments, no recreational resort was allowed at the location.
''This was not a problem for Cockaigne because it existed before zoning laws were adopted,'' he said. ''So Cockaigne's operations were grandfathered in.''
Goodell said the property is not only being marketed as a ski resort, but also as a year-round resort with the possibility of horseback riding, a water park and other summer activities.
''The zoning changes open the door to a lot of different recreational activities on the facility, which makes it more attractive to a potential buyer because it increases income opportunities to year-round,'' he said. ''In addition, the resort is located on a 40-mile horse trail that is being developed in the northeastern quadrant of the county, which should be one of the finest horse trails in this area. The original facility was also built with a quarter-mile horse track circling around the main pond, which could be reopened for equestrian activities.''
Goodell said many inquires into the purchase of Cockaigne have been made, but there are no serious offers on the table. The facility still has many of the key components needed to operate once it is purchased.
''It is still an excellent business operation, even though it was closed all of last year, because the ski resort gets one of the highest levels of natural snow in Western New York and is particularly well-suited for high school ski clubs and family-oriented skiing,'' Goodell said. ''All the basic equipment is fully operational and has been well maintained, including all the chairlifts, snow-making equipment and groomers.''
Goodell said a potential buyer could buy just the 350 to 400 acres to run the ski area or could potentially purchase up to 1,500 acres to have more options for a year-round resort. He said utility costs are low and Cockaigne has a number of natural gas wells. Goodell said Cockaigne is also a quality investment because of its staff of nearly 200 people during the winter.
On Jan. 24, 2011, Cockaigne's Austrian World's Fair ski lodge burned to the ground. In November 2011, Jack VanScoter, Cockaigne owner, said he would sell the ski area because there is no lodge. VanScoter said he has made the decision not to rebuild a lodge because he would go into debt.
For more information on the Cockaigne Ski Area, Goodell can be contacted at 664-4705.