BURKE- The latest chapter from the Q-Burke saga was written on Wednesday, when the lawyer representing project contractor PeakCM filed a lien against the resort.This move comes after nearly a year of legal battles between PeakCM President Jerry Davis and Q–Burke owners and developers.
According to state documents, PeakCM is owed nearly $5.5 million, and the resort is not paying their dues. “If they were any other entity, they would’ve been sued already,” said Davis. “You know, they’re 100% in the wrong.”
Q-Burke and PeakCM have been pointing fingers for months, in part because a portion some of the funding comes from the nationally supported EB-5 program. Through this program, foreign investors put money into a project like this in order to receive a visa.
In projects where EB-5 funding is involved, all payments must be reviewed by the state, which adds another layer to the confusion. This holdup has understandably caused developers to become impatient.
”We’re going to push for a short sell of that hotel and then every single EB-5 investor is done,” said Davis.
According to Pat Moulton, Secretary for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, this is not a state issue.
“I think it’s a convenient thing to blame the state, but in fact, nobody wants those jobs to be created more than this agency-me personally—Governor Shumlin, we want to see those jobs created,” Moulton said.
While Moulton and other government officials are talking about job opportunities, nearly 200 Q-Burke employees are facing a tough reality. Paired with the funding fiasco, an abnormally warm winter, and pump issues with their snow making equipment, the resort is resorting to layoffs. Most are jobs related to the new hotel that has yet to be opened, and the financial toll has been so large that some full-time positions will be cut as well.
Q-Burke representatives have pushed back the grand opening of the hotel several times, going all the way back to December 2014. The latest estimate for an opening date was June, but that has been put on hold, as officials say the property will not open until the remaining money is paid to PeakCM.
The situation is so off-track that the EB-5 program in Vermont has been the topic of bipartisan reform talks, ranging from Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott.
“I do think there are ways to make the situation better and to rectify that,” said Scott. “If we’re going to utilize that program or have it in our toolbox, it should be functioning properly and it should be transparent.”