Delays Mounting at Q Burke Hotel

  • Print

QBurke HotelBURKE – Following a week of setbacks at Q Burke Mountain Resort that started with officials announcing the hotel's grand opening will be delayed and ended with a worker being struck and injured by a forklift, the project is moving forward in hopes of completion by mid-January.

 

It's been a busy fall at the mountain, as crews tried to meet the December 11 deadline that has since been pushed back. Several recent issues ultimately forced resort officials to reconsider the project timeline.

In early September, Q Burke offered community tours of the new hotel and conference center. Parents of Burke Mountain Academy students also had a chance to check out the facility.

At that time, officials with ties to the project announced that the hotel would be ready for guests by early December.

Over the next few months, the hotel started taking reservations for the winter. On October 28, the resort held a job fair that included open positions at the hotel. Q Burke marketing manager Jessica Sechler estimated that it would bring about 300 new jobs to the region.

"With any project of this size, we want to bring something to the table and we want to bring opportunity here for the community," she said.

However, in early November, news broke that there was a problem with construction project payments.

Because of the project's EB-5 status, Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation oversees all transactions between Q Burke and the general contractor, PeakCM.

On November 4, PeakCM president Jerry Davis threatened to shut down the operation at 4 p.m. on November 6 if he did not receive payments from the state, which had been delayed during the approval process.

"The lack of communication from the state is clearly interfering with the contract," Davis said.

Two days later, the shutdown deadline passed with little fanfare at the job site. At the time, Davis announced that he was attempting to talk with the DFR and Q Burke to resolve the issue, but was still considering a work stoppage.

The Vermont Attorney General's office then stepped in to remedy the situation.

"If the State is involved in any way, I think the Attorney General should take a look, just [to] make sure we did everything right and if we're not doing everything right, then we should rectify the situation," Lt. Governor Phil Scott said.

Within 24 hours, Davis acknowledged that the DFR had approved most of the late payments, but would not authorize costs related to furniture, fixtures, and equipment, commonly referred to as FF&E, because of issues with the wording of the project contract.

As a result, Davis decided to suspend all FF&E projects at the hotel. That hold is still in place today.

When asked about the status of the project at the time, Davis said the changes "will impact the hotel's opening."

In mid-November, Q Burke developer Bill Stenger seemed confident that the hotel would open its doors on time, despite concerns that the delays were adding up.

"We're working like crazy there right now," he noted. "We probably have 150 construction workers there today. They've been working six days a week. Our goal is to open the 11th of December and that's still our goal."

Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros took a similar stance when asked about the situation at an Act 250 hearing for new trailside lights on November 17.

"Right now, we're prepared to open December 11," he said. "We have staffing, we are excited, and we're getting ready to roll right after that."

On December 2, a News7 call to Q Burke guest services revealed that the hotel was no longer booking rooms in December because of ongoing "delays."

"The hotel opening is on delay and we are accepting reservations after January 15," Sechler confirmed via email.

Last Friday, Brady Hart of Landshapes, a Richmond-based landscaping company, was injured when he was struck by a forklift at the job site. Hart was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire via helicopter, although his condition is unknown.

Stephen Monahan, Director of the Workers Compensation and Safety Division, confirmed that VOSHA is investigating the accident and will issue a follow-up report, but would not comment further.

At this time, Q Burke officials are not commenting on the status of the hotel or the forklift mishap.

The trails at the mountain are expected to open on December 18 after issues with the artificial snow guns and an unseasonably mild stretch forced the resort to scrap its original opening date earlier this month.