First new Yosemite resort in 25 years relies on $30+ million SBA 504 hotel loan package
TMC Financing today announced the owners of First Light Hospitality financed the construction of the 143-room Rush Creek Lodge in Groveland, California, with a 20-year, fixed-rate U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan. The mountain lodge is the first resort to open in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park in more than 25 years. Rush Creek Lodge is situated on 20 wooded acres less than a mile from the park’s Highway 120 west entrance. Debt financing from the SBA and other sources exceeded $30 million.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something special in such an amazing place,” said Lee Zimmerman, one of Rush Creek’s owners. “We developed the Evergreen Lodge over 10 years ago, and doing so was so challenging and painful that we thought, ‘never again.’ But then the Rush Creek parcel came up for sale. I guess it’s like having a baby; enough time passes and you forget the pain. We agreed that if we took on creating Rush Creek Lodge, we would bring in the right financing and development partners to do it right, and that is what we have done.
“There were so many reasons for the banks to say no,” he said. “Non-flagged, ground-up construction in a remote area, needing all of its own infrastructure, coming out of the economic recession and after the Rim Fire. Without the SBA piece from TMC, we couldn’t have gotten this done. Banks would not have been comfortable financing this deal. Rich Grant, David Griffis and Alisa Aiken at TMC have been just great to work with from day one and had an excellent understanding of how to make the deal work and how to guide us through the process.”
“This is an amazing project,” said David Griffis, TMC senior vice president. “The plans for the lodge, the restaurant and tavern are incredible. What makes this project really unique is the commitment these guys have to investing in the local community, along with their environmental and social missions. Evergreen Lodge is a Certified B Corporation and they’ve built an impressive youth employment program that gives urban kids in the Bay Area a chance at a life-changing job. On the Rush Creek project, everything – products, materials, labor – is as locally sourced as possible. These guys are the real deal. They are making decisions and doing things for all the right reasons.”
TMC partnered with Self Help Credit Union for the bank portion of the finance package. “We liked that our social and environmental priorities were valued by them and that our lenders were also socially minded,” Zimmerman said. “In the end, we feel fortunate that our financing is nicely aligned with our values. Without the SBA, this would likely not have been possible.”
Currently under construction, Rush Creek Lodge is slated to open in spring 2016, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and 126th anniversary of Yosemite, one of the nation’s original national parks. Reservations will be accepted at rushcreeklodge.com beginning this summer.