Balsams Announces $3 Million Loan from Northern Pass
The resort developers plan to use the loan to obtain state backed financing.
Sunday, March 26, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Les Otten's Balsams Resort redevelopment project has recently received a $3 million loan committment from Forward NH, according to a press release submitted to the Colebrook Chronicle. Created by Eversource's Northern Pass transmission project, Forward NH could provide $200 million in funding to Northern New Hampshire economic development.
Combined with a $2 million investment disclosed in 2016, Forward NH appears to have contributed at least $5 million to the Balsams project.
According to the press release, the loan will fund the "final phases of design, permitting and financing" and has enabled "the Balsams Resort to complete the required third-party reports, including the Work Force Study, to allow the advancement of the BFA application process."
On May 20, 2015, Governor Maggie Hassan signed Senate Bill 30 into law, allowing the state's Business Finance Authority (BFA) to provide up to $30 million in taxpayer backed bonds to the project.
On March 7, 2016, Otten told the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee that "Northern Pass, through the Forward New Hampshire Fund, has invested $2 million in our project without strings. And we are discussing the potential for a more substantial investment by the Fund as Northern Pass progresses."
Under Governor Maggie Hassan, the State of New Hampshire spent $850,000 to construct a new snow machine tunnel in 2016, while committing $2.8 million to rebuild private resort roads and up to $30 million in state guaranteed financing. An additional $12 million is reportedly being sought from a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development backed loan.
According to the press release, Otten hopes to break ground on the $143 million Balsams phase one project "sometime in 2017," which appears to confirm the project has once again been delayed.
The project was originally slated to start on June 1, 2015, however developers cited the legislative bond process as reason for delaying construction until late summer 2015. The project was delayed again during that summer with a new groundbreaking date set for fall 2015. Subsequently, a June 1, 2016 groundbreaking date was suggested. When that goal was missed, a fall 2016 groundbreaking date was disclosed, "certainly starting work this year ."
The northernmost chairlift served ski area in New Hampshire, the Balsams Wilderness operated from 1966 until 2011, when the Dixville Notch Balsams Grand Resort was shuttered. While equipment has been sold and some hotel related structures demolished, the ski lodge and triple chairlifts remain in place. Former American Skiing Company CEO Les Otten's Dixville LLC became involved in the project in early 2014.