Sam Byrne, Big Sky developer, predicts more growth of high-end homes


The co-founder of the Boston-based investment firm with ownership stake in the Yellowstone Club, Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks explained his long-term plans Monday for real estate development at the company’s properties in Big Sky.

Sam Byrne’s CrossHarbor Capital acquired the private 13,600-acre Yellowstone Club in 2009, then partnered with Boyne Resorts in 2013 to buy the 8,100-acre Moonlight Basin and 3,530-acre Spanish Peaks.

Among a variety of commercial and residential projects, Byrne, 50, said his company was planning to build an additional 864 residential units at the Yellowstone Club. Owning a lot is required for membership in the club, which offers skiing on 2,200 acres accessed by 15 chairlifts.

 “We expect to continue to add approximately 90 members per year over the course of the next three years,” Byrne said.

Yellowstone Club prices range from $2 million to $5 million for small village lots and from $5.5 million to over $15 million for homes. In the last three years the company has averaged $500 million in annual sales, Byrne said.

Byrne said the Yellowstone Club has sold 78 homes in the American Spirit subdivision on top of the club’s property for an average of $9 million each.

“Making it by far the most successful residential resort subdivision in the country, if not the world,” Byrne said.

And the company is currently building a $28 million golf clubhouse to open this summer to add dining and event space. They’re also building three mixed-used properties at the base of the resort on top of a 360-car underground parking garage. The cost to buy, between $2,500 to $3,000 per square foot, will be the highest at any U.S. ski resort, Byrne said.

At Spanish Peaks, Byrne said, they’re ready to begin the next phase of development. There are 230 members at Spanish Peaks, but they’re aiming for 400. There’s been $45 million in construction at Spanish Peaks over the last year. Byrne said they’re now working on a 100-room, five-star hotel at Spanish Peaks, the first of that quality in southwest Montana.

Because there’s no five-star resort in southwest Montana, magazines like Condé Naste Traveler and National Geographic don’t pay attention to Big Sky.

“So the market is fairly poorly recognized in some of the major cities in the country that we now have airlift to,” he said. “We have 11 hotel sites identified under Big Sky to build over the next 15 to 20 years.”

Byrne spoke during the Chronicle’s Business Journal luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Byrne said the next steps include working as a team to stop over-saturating the market, reducing construction costs, and providing transportation and affordable housing for the booming number of employees.

The workforce housing gap is estimated at 650 to 900 residential units in Big Sky, which has a full-time population of 3,100 but can peak at 15,000 with tourists. Byrne predicted Big Sky Resort would add 500 jobs at peak season over the next five years and another 200 at Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks, combined.

“We couldn’t be more excited about what we have ahead of us in this community, or more proud of the people that we work with locally,” Byrne said. “The two things that keep me up at night, I joke with my colleagues are, one, that we don’t ruin it...the second one is construction.”


Troy Carter can be reached at 582-2630 or He’s on Twitter at @cartertroy.

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