Balsams Redevelopment Delayed Again
The developers have requested more time to explore financing options.
Saturday, June 16, 2018,

Balsams Wilderness (file photo)

Another groundbreaking goal has been missed, as the group attempting to redevelop the Balsams has delayed a New Hampshire Business Finance Authority vote on the project. According to the Union Leader, Dixville Capital LLC has stated it is "moving forward" but "taking a little pause in the process."

Ski industry veteran Les Otten's company had filed an application for $28 million in financing from the state's Business Finance Authority in December with a goal of an April 2018 groundbreaking. At the time, the Business Finance Authority Executive Director expected the review process to take 45 to 60 days. However, Business Finance Authority has yet to vote on the project, citing the need for more information.

The Business Finance Authority's June meeting, scheduled for Monday, will not include a vote on the Balsams project. According to Executive Director James Key Wallace, "we have agreed to grant the Balsams' team additional time to develop alternative approaches."

According to the Union Leader, construction for the $170 million Phase 1 project will take 18 months to complete.

The public financing arrangement was enabled in 2015, when then-Governor Maggie Hassan signed SB30 into law, allowing the Balsams to borrow up to $30 million in taxpayer backed bonds from the Business Finance Authority. If the Balsams receives BFA approval, the project will still need okay from the Governor and Executive Council.

According to the Union Leader, the $170 million Les Otten-led project is composed of a $28 million BFA backed Service Credit Union loan, $20 million in developer equity, $35 million in other equity, $18 million in ski equipment lease financing, $53 million in construction financing, and $15.4 million in EB-5 Immigrant Investor funding.

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. Les Otten has been involved in the project since 2014.

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