Balsams still plans Oct. Construction start
developers file four site plans, construction start slated for fall
By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
04. 2017 12:43AM
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
"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