The former ailing wintertime Powder Ridge ski area in Middlefield is getting ready for a new life that will not only include winter snowboarding, racing, skiing and seasonal mountain terrain riding and racing, but also an upscale restaurant, shopping and hotel accommodations.
And it is all scheduled to open by the end of the year.
That was the announcement Wednesday by the five investors who unveiled the finalized plans for the new Powder Ridge Mountain Park Resort.
“We are calling it an urban sports facility and resort,” said CEO Sean Hayes. “We are redefining what a local ski area can be.”
Renovations have begun for the new adventure park expected to open in December. Investors say it will include a four-lane boarder and ski cross course and slalom runs with multiple gates. Plans call for 20 feature-rich trails for all skill levels, complete with log-style rails, cascading jumps and a full-size half pipe. The park resort also will have a Burton riglet snowboarding program for kids as young as 24 months, according to Hayes. The themed riglet park will feature kid-size interactive stations that teach students how to maneuver over, under and around sculpted terrain and features.
The resort will be designed to operate four seasons with mountain bike trails with lift-service downhill, cyclo cross, free ride and up and down racing trails during fall, spring and summer. Other features of the park will include a 5,700-square-foot rental center with repair services, annual leasing programs, lessons and team building activities.
Hayes, along with his brother Ed Hayes, and Dr. Minh Han and John Gramegna, are the founders of the Portland’s Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park, a seasonal park open for seven years with zip lines, cliff jumping, scuba diving, rock climbing and wakeboarding in an abandoned quarry owned by the town.
Brownstone Group purchased Powder Ridge from the town of Middlefield less than a year ago for $700,000. The facility had closed in 2006, and the town bought it in 2008 for $2.55 million after it went into foreclosure. The group has since added nationally recognized chef Kevin Cottle as an investor for both facilities.
Cottle, a former “Hell’s Kitchen” reality TV show runner-up, is heading up the restaurant and catering operations. The 19,000-square-foot former ski lodge is being renovated and will feature the “Fire at the Ridge,” an upscale restaurant, with fine food, fireplaces and a view of the slopes via flat-screen monitors.
“It will be a New England farm-to-table menu with a twist,” said Cottle, who has been executive chef at Country Club of Farmington and Jordan Caterers. Noting it is the first restaurant he has owned, Cottle said he is looking forward to having his own kitchen. Cottle said that while the food and experience will be top shelf, it is not meant to be a “fine dining” kind of place.
The restaurant is also scheduled to open in December.
The former ski lodge will also house the “Ridgeside Tavern” and a cafeteria for skiers and bikers.
The resort also will have hotel rooms, bathing and dressing facilities and retail stores. Hayes estimates the cost for the renovation is between $4 and $5 million. A $500,000 state grant is also being used for the project, Hayes said.