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Darien Lake has new owner, who isn't talking about theme park's future

Darien Lake theme park has been sold, but it's not yet clear what that means for park patrons.

EPR Properties has entered into an agreement to buy a bundle of recreational properties from CNL Lifestyle Properties which includes the Genesee County theme park. EPR Properties is a publicly traded, Missouri-based real estate investment trust. CNL Lifestyle Properties is a real estate investment fund based in Orlando.

Just what changes might be in store for the theme park are anybody's guess, because the company that bought the park is not yet talking.

Papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday show that EPR Properties bought Northstar California Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe, a portfolio of 15 waterparks and amusement parks and five small family entertainment centers from CNL Lifestyle Properties for $456 million.

Last year, CNL Lifestyle Properties announced that it had lost nearly a quarter of its share value in 2014. In 2015, it specifically mentioned poor performance at Darien Lake in its letter to shareholders, citing "weather and operational challenges." Darien Lake had reported a 33 percent drop in earnings, down to $3.7 million from $5.6 million the year before.

At that time, CNL announced it had gotten rid of Herschend Family Entertainment and installed Premier Parks LLC to run the day-to-day operations at the park. The company also announced it would phase out the CNL Lifestyle fund, which holds theme parks and golf resorts among other facilities, and seek a buyer for any remaining assets.

Gregory Silvers, president and CEO of EPR properties, said in a statement that he doesn't expect the acquisition to be immediately profitable, but said it will diversify the company's profile with "proven, durable assets" that allign with positive economic trends.

Stephen H. Mauldin, CEO of CNL Lifestyle Properties, said he is proud of the unique, long-established properties he had built.

"We believe this transaction is the best fit for selling the remaining properties in our portfolio as we complete our exit strategy to provide liquidity to our shareholders," he said.

Darien Lake is CNL's largest theme park.

Representatives for EPR Properties declined to comment on their plans for the park. Neither Darien Lake nor CNL Lifestyle Properties could be reached for comment.



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