IDA Examining Abatements For Cockaigne Resort Resurrection

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency on Tuesday agreed to move forward with an application for tax abatements and a payment in lieu of tax agreement regarding the purchase of the Cockaigne Ski Area in Cherry Creek. P-J file photo by Jimmy McCarthy

Two individuals with experience in winter sports are working to make the purchase of Cockaigne Ski Area in Cherry Creek final.

Financing is one of the few things that’s still in the works in order for Adam Pirtz and Isaac Gratto to close on the property. On Tuesday, the county Industrial Development Agency’s Board of Directors approved a preliminary resolution to move forward with their application request for tax abatements and a payment in lieu of tax agreement.

Carol Rasmussen, business development manager, told board members the IDA recently received an application requesting tax abatements and a PILOT. The sales tax abatement totals approximately $300,000 while the mortgage recording tax abatement is roughly $38,000.

Pirtz and Gratto were in attendance for the meeting in Jamestown. Gratto said they plan on reopening the ski area for the 2018-19 ski season.

The project, which totals $3.5 million, details the purchase of property, the construction of a 20,000-square-foot chalet and renovation of The Grainery, a former restaurant across from Cockaigne.

Adam Pirtz, left, and Isaac Gratto are closing on the purchase of Cockaigne Ski Area in Cherry Creek. The two came before the county Industrial Development Agency's Board of Directors on Tuesday in Jamestown to discuss their plans. P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy

“It’s quite a big project, so this winter would definitely be out of the picture,” Gratto said.

“We would like to get on the property as soon as we can to get the lodge constructed, at least the outer shell, so we can work on it throughout the winter and have it ready for summer activities at the lodge.”

Together, the two have over 30 years of experience in the ski industry. Gratto, a Sherman resident, was a mountain operations manager at Peek’n Peak Ski Resort. He was also a tubing and a wastewater treatment manager.

Pirtz lived in Clymer for 10 years before recently moving to Cortland, Ohio. He was a terrain park manager for nine years. He holds an applied science degree and studied engineering at Kent State University. He has experience in risk management, park designing, event planning and snowboard instructing.

Plans set forth by Pirtz and Gratto detail the ski area as a year-round destination. In addition to maintaining horse trails on the property, Gratto said they’re also looking to extend snowmobile trails to the facility while constructing a parking lot for snowmobilers and out-of-state visitors.

“We see a niche in affordable, family fun,” he said. “The more people we get skiing the more people will visit the area and visit other ski areas. I think we can grow the whole area to get more skiers visiting everybody.”

Cockaigne opened in 1966 after a group of men purchased and constructed a four-season recreational area. The ski area operated for 45 years before a fire destroyed the Austrian Pavilion lodge on Jan. 24, 2011.

The ski area consists of more than 1,500 acres of land and features numerous trails of various difficulty levels. Sitting within the Lake Erie snow belt, the area sees no shortage of snowfall during the winter season.

Pirtz and Gratto said they’ve been working on obtaining Cockaigne for several years. They said they’re excited to get moving on the project. Once a PILOT and tax abatements are secured, Pirtz said they’ll be able to go through with the purchase.


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