Financial Curveball Creates Uncertainty Around Effort To Revitalize Historic New Hampshire Ski Area

Financial Curveball Creates Uncertainty Around Effort To Revitalize Historic New Hampshire Ski Area

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Financial Curveball Creates Uncertainty Around Effort To Revitalize Historic New Hampshire Ski Area

The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, NH boasts a rich history dating back to the 1860s. This luxury resort sits on 11,000 acres in the remote “North Country” bordering the Canadian Border and includes a ski hill, cross country skiing and historic grand hotel.

Related: Proposed Development Would Create The Biggest Ski Resort In New England

If Dixville Notch sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the first place in the nation to vote during presidential and primary elections. The resort fell upon hard times in the 2000’s and operations shut down in 2011.

In recent years, there has been a push to revitalize this remarkable resort. The plans were to restore the Balsams back to its glory days which would include re-opening the ski resort. There have been some grandiose plans thrown around to expand the skiing operation.

The redevelopment plans are being led by ski industry veteran, Les Otten. He owns at least a piece of Sunday River in Maine as well as Killington and Mount Snow in Vermont. To put this guy’s financial influence into perspective, he also owned part of the Boston Red Sox for a time.

“The project’s first phase includes renovation of the Hampshire and Hale houses; reconstruction of Dix House; and construction of a 400-room Lake Gloriette House Hotel and Conference Center, Nordic baths and spa as well as a marketplace and expansion of the former Wilderness ski area.” – New Hampshire Union Leader

According to the the New Hampshire Union Leader, Otten and the investors planned to raise a bulk of the money required for this spendy endeavor on their own. They hoped that the other chunk of money would come from a $28-million loan. One condition of the proposed loan was that if the investment group defaulted, the state of New Hampshire would back them up. In other words, while the loan wasn’t coming from the state, the state would be on the hook if the project failed.

On Monday, August 27, Otten withdrew the loan application. It appears as though the investors got cold feet with some of the conditions of the agreement with the state of New Hampshire.

“One catch, though, was that the loan guarantee would have been approved by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority. Otten announced yesterday that he has withdrawn his application to the BFA. He says the BFA was looking to impose certain financial conditions that were not contemplated by the Balsams.

The BFA was apparently caught off guard by this announcement. I spoke with BFA Board Chair Dick Anagnost. He says the BFA was simply looking to ensure the public’s money was being taken care of.” – Reporter Todd Bookman in Interview With New Hampshire Public Radio

While the redevelopment project definitely took a major hit, there is still substantial support. New Hampshire’s North Country relies on tourism and a thriving Balsams Resort only benefits this remote area of the state. Our fingers are crossed that they can get the lifts spinning and the historic hotel back in action.

Mountain Stats: 

  • Average Snowfall: NA
  • Vertical Drop — 1,000′
  • Skiable Terrain — 85 acres (1,600-1800 acres at buildout)
  • Chairlifts — 2
  • Trails — 16

Find out more here: Balsams withdraws application for $28M state loan guarantee

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