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Balsams developers file four site plans, construction start slated for fall

By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent

August 04. 2017 12:43AM
The Balsams Resort (John Koziol)



DIXVILLE — With construction expected to start in October, the group behind the proposed rehabilitation and expansion of The Balsams resort has filed four site plans with the Coos County Planning Board in connection with the $165 million Phase I of the project.

Dixville Capital LLC, which is led by former ski-industry executive Les Otten, on Wednesday also asked the Planning Board to expedite consideration of the applications.

Phase I includes more than 450 rooms, 250 through the renovation of the Dix and Hampshire houses, and the rest through construction of the Lake Gloriette House.

A spa and market are also part of Phase I, as is an expansion of the former Wilderness Ski Area and the construction of a gondola lift that would take guests there from the main campus.

While Otten’s embrace of Eversource’s proposed Northern Pass electrical transmission line and his acceptance of $2 million from an Eversource economic development fund has raised a number of eyebrows, that negative view is offset by broad support in upper Coos County and among state lawmakers for a revived Balsams.

“Countless members of the North Country community have told us many times how anxious they are for the Balsams’ rebirth to begin,” Otten wrote in a letter to John Scarinza, the chairman of the Coos County Planning Board.

“We are looking forward to that day as much as anyone, and finally, it is in clear view,” said Otten, adding that it has taken several years of “challenging work and more than $8 million of investment…” to get to this point.

Otten said his team’s collaboration with the Planning Board “will allow us to meet critical project timelines,” and he requested that the board consider its applications for completeness on Aug. 23, with a public hearing on them a week or so later. Final consideration and a vote would take place in early September.

Otten said Dixville Capital has taken 5 percent reservation deposits on “nearly $25 million worth of real estate,” and that “our financing efforts are proceeding well and we have the opportunity to close on all funds needed to start construction in 60 days.”

Part of that financing includes loans from Northern Bank and a $28 million loan guarantee from the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.

"We’re finalizing our 'capital stacks'" so that the bank can file the BFA application, Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for Dixville Capital, said on Thursday.

The loan guarantee application is "going to happen and it has to happen before we close," Tranchemontagne said, adding that Dixville Capital is also working on the Panorama Golf Course.

The course is being maintained, but could be made playable in advance of the grand reopening of The Balsams — expected late next year — if Dixville Capital can coordinate with the state Department of Transportation, which will make improvements to the Golf Links Road only after Phase I financing is finalized.

"We’d love to do it if we can," said Tranchemontagne.


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