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Balsams developer mum on revitalization plans

By John Koziol
Union Leader Correspondent

April 22. 2014 9:14PM
Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch remains closed, its driveway barricaded. (Union Leader file photo)

DIXVILLE - Although state officials say developer Les Otten has talked to them about building roads and providing a water supply as part of the renovation of the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, Otten has remained quiet about his plans.

But that might change next month when Otten delivers the keynote address to a local chamber of commerce.The North Country Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual meeting May 22 at The Spa Restaurant's Outback Pub in West Stewartstown, and Otten, a former ski-resort executive, is scheduled to be the guest speaker.

Earlier this year, Dan Dagesse and Dan Hebert, two Colebrook businessmen who in 2011 purchased the Balsams, which includes the historic hotel, a golf course and a ski area on more than 7,000 acres in and around Dixville Notch, announced that Otten, who was a founder and former CEO of the American Skiing Company, would take the lead on the Balsams project.

During his only interview with the Union Leader, Otten said he was looking to move forward quickly, adding that a potential partner would be David Southworth, who has developed more than $1 billion worth of golf-resort properties around the world.

Since then, Otten has been silent about the project. But a conversation he had with Paul Grenier, who is a Coos County commissioner and mayor of Berlin, was disclosed during a commission meeting by Grenier who said Otten was looking to quadruple the size of the Balsams Wilderness ski area.

The ski area enhancement is contingent upon reducing setbacks of wind turbines operated by Brookfield Power.

According to documents obtained by the Union Leader, plans include expanding the ski area and the new Balsams would have three separate villages with a total of 4,400 residential units, 3,500 of which would be around Lake Gloriette; 400 at the Wilderness; and 500 at the golf course.Work on upgrading the existing resort would begin this summer, with a reopening in fall 2015, which is when work at the ski area would start.

The rest of the project would take up to 10 years to complete and would be contingent upon the success of the previous two phases, according to the documents.At full build-out, the new and improved Balsams would have 2,000 full- and part-time jobs, the document indicates.

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