Cockaigne Ski Resort officially sold

OBSERVER File Photo Adam Pirtz and Isaac Gratto of Cockaigne Development, LLC are now the owners of Cockaigne Ski Resort.

Cockaigne Ski Resort officially has new ownership.

Andy Goodell, state assemblyman for Jamestown and lawyer who represents the former owners of Cockaigne, said the final documents have been completed. Adam Pirtz and Isaac Gratto of Cockaigne Development, LLC are now the owners of the beloved ski area.

Goodell said the plan is to rebuild the lodge and have the ski resort open for the 2018 season.

“This is great news for our county,” Goodell said.

Goodell said in the past, the ski resort employed anywhere form 150-200 seasonal employees. The re-opening of the ski facility will bring that employment back to Chautauqua County.

“That employment in Chautauqua County is very important because it dovetails with the summer employment,” he said.

Goodell said in this way, people can work seasonal summer jobs and also find gainful employment during the winter. He said it also adds opportunities for young adults who are just getting into the workforce.

“That’s very valuable,” Goodell said.

Efforts have been made to sell the facility since 2011. After a fire in January of that year that destroyed the Austrian Pavilion lodge, the ski resort opened 10 days later to finish the season but did not reopen thereafter. It had previously been open for 45 years.

Goodell said there had been talks with dozens of possible buyers from Ohio, Maine, Virginia, Michigan and other areas.

“This is the best group that came forward, in my opinion,” he said.

Goodell said Pirtz and Gratto have hands-on experience in the field and have a passion for the industry.

After an October meeting with the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Grotto told the newspaper that both individuals have been involved in winter sports, but this is the first time they have owned such an operation. Grotto said they are both excited to get Cockaigne re-opened.

Gratto said a tubing hill will be added, as well as more snowmobile trailer parking and a trail through the area. There will also be a marketing budget of $85,000 per year, which Gratto said will be focused on Ohio, areas in Canada and local schools.

The pair were recently approved by the IDA for a $500,000 Al Tech loan for 20 years at 4 percent.

The property was originally 1,500 acres, but only a portion – between 250-300 acres – was sold. The Grainery restaurant was included in the deal.

At one time, Goodell said he was also a ski instructor at Cockaigne. He said the public should look forward to the re-opening of the ski facility.

“Everyone should be looking forward with great anticipation,” he said.

Goodell said there were a variety individuals and groups working behind the scenes to make the sale a success, such as the Cherry Creek Town Board, the Chautauqua Abstract Company, the Price Abstract Company, the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and the former owners. Goodell said the buyers were represented by John Gullo.

Goodell said Steuben Electric also helped out by replacing electrical equipment in a timely fashion at no cost.