Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Community Building Forum series
CrossHarbor Capital Partners cover COVID-19, conservation, workforce housing and development
No one could have predicted what would happen in Big Sky as a result of COVID-19. There were a slew of variables and moving parts. The best and the brightest of the local business world made projections, but no one predicted how squarely Big Sky would be placed on the map by the pandemic. Nor could they guess how many people would want to move to the rural community from cities across the nation. Matt Kidd, Managing Director for CrossHarbor Capital Partners described May and June as a time of uncertainty during the third annual Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Community Building Forum. The company was preparing for real estate transactions to stall out for two years, but then, almost all available real estate was sold.
“From a place of tremendous uncertainty the community has gathered together. It is not perfect, but overall, Big Sky is on a great path and we are seeing a tremendous amount of demand for this place that we all call home,” he said.
CrossHarbor Capital Partners manages the Yellowstone Club, along with Partner Discovery Land Company and everything they are doing through Lone Mountain Land Company (LMLC), which was created in 2014 to bring a consolidated effort to Spanish Peaks, Moonlight Basin, Big Sky Real Estate Company, the Wilson Hotel and other projects in Town Center.
With Yellowstone Club nearly built out and Spanish Peaks half built out, Moonlight Basin is becoming an area of focus. They are working on multiple hotel projects including the Montage Big Sky – the largest project ever built in the state of Montana, there are two other hotel projects at Moonlight Basin in the Lee’s Pool Area and Madison Village.
The reason LMLC is focused on hotels is that Big Sky has a significant lack of hotel keys compared to other comparable ski areas.
“This has exacerbated the housing situation,” Kidd said. “The reality is the resort would not have been able to get to the number of 700,000 give or take skier visits without short term rentals and Airbnb.” One of the hopes of the company is that more available hotel rooms will equal less short term housing and Airbnb situations, resulting in more long term rentals on the market for locals.
But construction has been challenging, costs have increased substantially, costly COVID-19 testing has been done at job sites and will be part of the path forward.
“Every operating business in Big Sky now has significantly higher costs than we did a year ago,” he said.
CrossHarbor Capital Partners is one of Big Sky’s most significant employers. There are just under 1,300 direct employees between development, sales and operations. That number is expected to increase to nearly 2,000 by 2025.
“It has been challenging to keep construction ongoing through this, but I am very proud of all the team members that have come to work everyday, put a mask on and continue to do their job,” he said.
Kidd also took the opportunity to quash rumors.
“A common myth is that… since we have been involved is that we have increased the entitlements of our projects. Not true. We have made investments in the projects that we bought. We have not increased the entitlements that were already in place for any of our projects. In fact we reduced them through a conservation easement at Moonlight,” he said.
That conservation easement involves 2,500 acres that border Jack Creek Road between Moonlight and Ennis.
“The Jack Creek Road that exists today is what will always exist. Of course if there was any sort of emergency, it is emergency egress for Big Sky, but we are committed to that area being a wildlife corridor,” he said. That move extinguished 84 of Moonlight’s density units.
He spoke to continued community commitment including long term housing. Lone Mountain Land Company has constructed 78 long term rental units, including the additional 10 that will come online with the completion of Town Center’s Building 4 by ski season. Those 78 units equal 236 total beds.
“In addition to our resort projects we have made a significant commitment around workforce housing,” he said. These commitments include the Powder Light project beside Ace Hardware, Spruce Cone projects, River Rock Lodge and Buck’s T-4.
“We are expanding Buck’s T-4 with more density around it,” he said, also noting the restaurant and event space will continue to operate for community benefit. The wheels are in motion for other projects as well.
“This year, in Big Sky – it doesn’t include outside Big Sky – we will have 334 beds and by two years from now that number will be almost 900 in terms of beds for employees – not just our employees. These are being built for the broader Big Sky workforce, for the benefit of all Chamber businesses. We are very committed to doing this,” he said.
Those interested in watching the presentation can find it on the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Programs and Events Manager Caitlin Quisenberry said presentations will soon be time stamped.
CrossHarbor Capital Partners has created an informational app called Big Sky Life that all businesses in Big Sky can be a part of. People can come to Big Sky download info, get info on events, things to do, store and restaurant hours, whether or not they’re open. Any business in Big Sky can participate. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.