Midwestern investment firm buys Wintergreen

The view from Devils Knob at Wintergreen. File photo The view from Devils Knob at Wintergreen. File photo

A Missouri real estate investment trust, EPR Properties, has picked up Wintergreen Resort for an undisclosed price, it announced last week. Coal and resort baron Jim Justice, who bought Wintergreen for $16.5 million in June 2012, poured millions into infrastructure before putting the Nelson ski resort on the market a year ago.

“Wintergreen is an outstanding property with many of the attributes we look at as a long-term property owner,” said EPR spokesperson Brian Moriarty. Pacific Group Resorts will lease and operate Wintergreen.

Before Justice bought Wintergreen, the resort was in severe financial straits because of warm weather and a dispute with the Virginia Department of Taxation over the appraisal of a conservation easement, and had defaulted on its Bank of America credit line. It hired a turnaround company shortly before Justice, who owns the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, pulled out his checkbook.

EPR, a publicly traded company with a market cap of $3.53 billion, refused to disclose the purchase price, citing the “quiet period” before quarterly earnings are reported February 24, although the company did announce the purchase during the same quiet period. “There was obviously interest in the community,” said Moriarty.

Wintergreen Partners Inc., which owns the services and facilities at the 11,000-acre resort, has real estate holdings assessed at over $56 million, according to Nelson County property records.