A new group of developers is gathering investment partners to construct a new 250-room Telemark lodge, restore and reopen downhill ski slopes and a chalet, and create an independent corporate training center. Sponsors are hoping the state of Wisconsin will become a partner by helping to fund a sewer line extension and demolish the lodge structure.

During the past year, a previous plan to redefine the historic resort has been completely restructured, Telemark Redevelopment LLC said March 3. The group is being led by a familiar name in Northwestern Wisconsin – James Bolen, operator of Lake Owen Resort, former director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce and a board member of Bayfield County Economic Development. In a statement, TR said Bolen has recruited advisors who have expertise and credibility in development, finance, building, marketing and management. They include WhiteStar Advisors, the Diaz & Cooper advertising and marketing firm, Widseth Smith Nolting Architects, Kraus-Anderson Construction, Spears, Carlson & Coleman law office, US Bank, Chippewa Valley Bank and seven private equity sources. A resolution in support of the project was recently adopted by the Town of Cable. TR has also received support from the Bayfield County administrator, Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the CXC (Central Cross-Country Ski Association), the Bayfield Economic Development Corporation, State Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Romaine Quinn.

“The project is gaining steam, and TR is poised to make its vision a reality for Northern Wisconsin. That vision is to turn Telemark into more than a singular resort. Bolen says it’s ‘more like a Telemark Village,’ showcasing Northern Wisconsin’s magnificent natural backdrop. The Telemark Village will serve as a hub for year-round recreation, taking advantage of cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, snowmobiling, ATV riding, fishing, boating and canoeing. The resort is also located within the golf capital of Wisconsin. The addition of an independent corporate training center on the grounds also ensures further year-round appeal to major corporations,” TR said in a prepared statement.

Bolen added that Telemark will take advantage of the internationally recognized cross-country ski and mountain bike trails and will also “host incredible food and wine festivals, renowned actors for film weekends and famed recording artists for musical events.” 

TR’s emphasis is to make Telemark a much more sustainable four-season tourist destination for the benefit of the entire region with the help of Diaz & Cooper.

“Telemark has not been marketed as a four-season resort area in the past, and we have created a plan, with the help of many partners, to maximize all that Telemark has to offer,” TR said.

“We transform marketing into an engine of growth,” said Omi Diaz, president and CEO of Diaz & Cooper, based in a Coral Gables, Fla. Diaz & Cooper is creating a strategic plan to build interest and create anticipation in the marketplace. 

TR has analyzed the potential economic impact of the Telemark project on the region. The company has found:

  • The pre-opening economic impact is an estimated $48.7 million based on construction cost estimates provided by Kraus Anderson and the design concept prepared by Widseth Smith Nolting Architects and Engineers. That includes $41 million of construction costs, employing approximately 200 construction workers over an 18-month period. Also included is an estimated $400,000 in worker spending for food and lodging. 
  • During the first full year of operations, the economic impact is estimated at $25.6 million in direct visitor spending. This includes an estimated $5,762,400 in estimated entertainment and retail sales for Cable/Hayward area businesses. Also included is $2,745,600 in projected annual wages for roughly 110 full time lodge employees, corporate training center staff, restaurant/bar and ski slope employees. In addition the project is estimated to create an additional 40 part-time positions, with an additional $600,000 in annual wages. The lodge complex is estimated to spend $2.75 million annually on other local businesses. This figure does not include utilities, which will create additional local economic impact.  
  • In the first full year of operations, it is estimated that the project will generate a combined $1,167,625 in sales and property tax revenue. Approximately $78,000 will go to support local schools. 

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) currently has a two-year lease with an option to purchase the Telemark property. TR intends to purchase only a portion of the large piece of real estate that makes up the Telemark property. TR said it hopes to work closely with ABSF to further the vision of both organizations and maximize the possibilities of the Telemark property for the benefit of the entire Northern Wisconsin region. 

Bolen said he is looking forward to working with ABSF and others involved in pursuing state funding to extend the sewer line and demolish the existing, dilapidated resort building. TR’s plan, which builds multiple businesses, creates new jobs and generates economic impact while strengthening any request for state funding.

“While we believe that working together can create a win-win for both ABSF and TR, the real winners will be the local community, which will benefit from tourism, tax dollars, and state grants, while also having a state of the art facility to enjoy right in their backyard,” Bolen said.