By Jann Wiswall

The heavy equipment has arrived at HoliMont’s WestMont Ridge development, where contractors are nearing completion on tree removal and getting ready to begin moving earth to grade the roads.

Northrup Construction, which won the bid to serve as general contractor, simultaneously is managing the process of bringing in water and sewer lines into the area.

WestMont Ridge, the first phase of HoliMont’s $22 million expansion project, ultimately will include 94 ski in/ski out residential properties and 72 condominiums off what has been named Ridgeway Road (formerly Ridge Way) near the Sunset slopes. The first 31 lots were up for auction in February; 17 were snapped up during the half-hour auction and another three lots were sold soon after.

Interest in the remaining 11 properties is strong, said HoliMont General Manager Dave Riley, who added that inquiries about the condominiums have increased considerably in recent weeks. The condominiums will range from 2,000 to 3,600 square feet each and include garages. Final permitting and architectural design of the condominiums is in progress now and sales could begin as soon as this summer. Pricing has not yet been determined.

Amy DeTine, an agent with HoliMont Realty — the listing agent for the properties — said that people definitely see the investment potential at WestMont Ridge.

“And now that access is better with the roadway construction, people will be able to actually touch and feel the lots and get a sense of their beauty,” she said. “With confidence building in the entire Ellicottville real estate market, we think the rest of the lots and the condominiums will sell pretty quickly.”

Riley said that permitting for the rest of the two-phase project — including 63 more single-family homes, a new lodge, new slopes and lifts, and more — will take a few years to complete. HoliMont’s board, which will not commit the resort to any serious debt, will authorize work on those projects to begin as cash is generated from real estate sales.

Riley also noted that the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) took the first step on Tuesday, May 21, toward approving HoliMont’s request for a New York State sales-tax abatement for the infrastructure construction that is under way. If approved, the abatement would save HoliMont $229,209 in sales taxes.

Corey Wiktor, the CCIDA’s executive director, said that the board authorized the agency to set a public hearing on the matter and to begin the SEQR review.

“This project fits our efforts to promote tourism in order to improve the economic strength of our county,” Wiktor said.