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Cranmore Mountain plans six-building expansion

Special to the Union Leader

December 18. 2013 9:05PM
Cranmore Mountain plans six-building expansion. 

NORTH CONWAY — Cranmore Mountain rolled out a multi-year master plan to the North Conway Planning Board last week that would give the resort six new buildings, including residential units, while keeping some of the well-loved historic structures.

Brian Fairbank, chairman of the Fairbank Group, and General Manager/President Ben Wilcox outlined the plan to the board, which expects they will return with a more detailed plan in February.

The master plan was a year in the making and would give skiers an option to purchase condominiums located right at the site, as well as enjoy updated ski facilities.

The plan calls for six new four-story buildings. All but two would be a mix of ski facilities on the lower floors and residential units on the upper floors. The residential units would have two to four bedrooms.

Phase one, scheduled to start in the spring, includes building one of the all-residential buildings with 18 units. Buyers can reserve units prior to construction, which is expected to be complete by next winter.

"That first building will set the tone," Wilcox said. "When people see it they will say, 'This is what the future is bringing to Cranmore.'"

When the condominium project, named Kearsarge Brook at Cranmore, is complete there will be a total of 106 residential units available.

The first two levels of four of the buildings will have updated and expanded skier services, including a restaurant, cafeteria, seating, locker rooms, rest rooms, changing areas, retail shop and snow sports instruction registration area. The two top floors would be condominium units.

Wilcox said they are purposely not adding a lot of shops because "we're in North Conway. We anticipate a shuttle bus that will take customers right into town," he said.

The build out is expected to take five to 10 years. Cranmore has used local contractors on projects in the past, and Wilcox said they would do so again as much as possible.

Three buildings would not be touched. The ticket office was renovated after The Fairbanks Group bought it in 2010. The historic Meister Hut at the summit would also remain as is. The Artist Falls Lodge, which houses Cranmore Fitness would also remain the same.

The Eating House, home of Zip's Pub and Grill, would be lost. But the company is hoping to use some of the architectural elements from the structure in the new building.

The Fairbanks Group purchased the resort from Booth Creek Resorts in June 2010. The Fairbanks Group also owns Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts and manages Bromley in Vermont. Jiminy Peak has a mix of residential/ski facility buildings, as is planned here.

Although it has been done in other states, Wilcox said this is the first project in New Hampshire that is integrating ski services and residential units in the same building.

This has been a very successful model in other states, including at Jiminy Peak, Wilcox said. It not only provided residential opportunities, but the sale of those units helps support the ski facilities for both residential customers and day skiers.

Since purchasing Cranmore, The Fairbanks Group has invested $9 million in improvements, most to the mountain side of things, Wilcox said. Those improvements include improvements to the lifts, smowmaking capabilities and the addition of summer attractions, such as the mountain coaster, giant swing and soaring eagle zip line that have turned Cranmore into a year round resort.

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