The Smoky Mountain News reports on former county manager/ Information Technology Guru, Steve Shiver, executive and shareholder of a bankrupt amusement park; Ghost Town at Maggie Valley, NC. Ghost Town slipped under the management of Shiver and Miami investors at the height of the real estate boom. Along with bankers Bill Losner and Bob Eppling, Shiver helped turn South Dade into a speculative bubble for crappy suburban sprawl. That was the Gold Standard during the housing bubble that steamrollered civic opposition at every turn. For his work fronting a scheme to redevelopment the Homestead Air Force Base as a private, commercial airport, Shiver was appointed county manager by then county mayor Alex Penelas. Today much of that chopped up, destroyed farmland and open space is home to suburban ghost towns, riddled with foreclosures and overdevelopment. But Shiver and his cohorts had already picked up their bags and moved to North Carolina by the time the costs fully materialized.
Shiver and his Miami investment team landed in the crisp mountain air of western North Carolina, focused on the development potential of a failed amusement park. When last spring local government declined to invest in the Shiver-led venture, an unlikely angel named Alaska Pressley threw a bundle of cash to keep Ghost Town at Maggie Valley in the game going through its 7th inning stretch through court-supervised bankruptcy. The hope was to get the venue open, re-arm the shoot-em ups, fill the tents with international talent through the eagle eye of Dolly Parton's sister, Stella, put the roller coaster in motion, and lure hundreds of thousands of new visitors who can't afford going to Paris because the real estate crash stripped away so much net worth.
But the summer is over. The tally is in. The kids are back at school. Mom and Dad have stored the travel gear, saving the sunscreen for weekend travel soccer. A quiet descends on the field of summer dreams. Fall is on the horizon and Ghost Town is still way in the red. 215 vendors are owed $2.5 million by Shiver and fellow shareholders whose names have not been disclosed.
Ghost Town still in the red despite $1.53 million in revenue
By Becky Johnson • Staff writer
Ghost Town in the Sky did not bring in enough revenue from its amusement park operations during the months of May, June and July to cover its overhead and operating expenses.
Ghost Town recently filed financial statements with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for May, June and July that show how much it made off ticket sales, concessions and souvenirs. For the three-month period, Ghost Town made $1.531 million in revenue off the park.
Meanwhile, the Maggie Valley amusement park paid out $1.845 million in operating costs, including salaries, utilities, insurance, taxes, advertising and equipment.
The operating loss was offset thanks to contributions from investors to the tune of $322,000. The financial statements do not say where or who the cash infusion came from. The cash infusion mostly came in May, when the park bore significant expenses to get the doors open for the season. Once open, the park began to break even and during the month of July, the park even made money.
Ghost Town CEO Steve Shiver made a modest salary of $5,426 over the three-month period. However, a company Shiver is president of, Global Management Services, was paid $27,000 by Ghost Town for the period. Shiver’s company is billed as a professional services company and dates to Shiver’s former life in the Miami area. The services Shiver’s company provided were not spelled out in the financial filings, but the fee was listed under a section for payments to insiders.
The theme park has suffered a setback this summer by failing to get the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster open.
The Maggie Valley theme park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March in hopes of holding off bill collectors long enough to get back on its feet. In addition to a $9.5 million mortgage, the park has a trail of unpaid bills with more than 215 companies totaling $2.5 million.
Ghost Town has been granted an extension to file its reorganization plan under bankruptcy protection. In early July, days before the plan was due, Ghost Town asked the court for an extension. The bankruptcy court granted a three-month extension, making the plan now due in early October. The plan is supposed to spell out how the company plans to make money to pay back its myriad creditors.
Those owed money get to vote on whether to accept Ghost Town’s reorganization plan. The plan is supposed to be voted on by creditors within two months of being filed.
The bankruptcy court turned down a request by Ghost Town that would have paved the way for another $250,000 loan from a private investor, Alaska Pressley. The loan would have been used to help get the incline railway working. Ghost Town wanted to pay back the loan by dipping into proceeds from ticket sales, but the bankruptcy court ruled that this in effect would allow Pressley to jump in line ahead of others already owed money by Ghost Town.