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Thread: Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

  1. #211
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    Interesting. Thanks for the update. Going to be interesting to see how the hospitality industry recovers from the pandemic. I expect that there will be a massive rebound because after having suffering through 18 months of work from home there will be a rush to travel. While many people will have settled into vacation homes or otherwise relocated, overall I don’t see this diminishing their desire to travel one the pandemic fades. I’m not sure how that changes the landscape for the Balsams though, unless there is a greater desire for quasi local travel or perhaps eco travel as you note.

  2. #212
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    The Daily Sun article mentions ESG investors, so that is the angle that Les is probably pursuing given the appeal of creating a low impact (in relative terms) sustainable resort.

  3. #213
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    Here is some more info from the more local paper that includes the Berlin Daily Sun story: https://colebrookchronicle.weebly.com/

    The Colebrook Chronicle is a good source without a paywall that I find interesting since it includes not only Coos, but also NEK and just over the border in Canada.
    I would have figured by now that they would have given up on the original plan and convert Balsams into some kind of ATV mecca, although I'm not sure what the status of the SPNHF easement that was overlaid on the land of the XC network regarding such use (there are existing multi-use trails woven in network). I think about those trails often and since I have spent many hours of my life clearing and maintaining trails, sadly imagine these growing in. It was good skiing.

    In the recent thread on Jericho development, peakbagger gave an accurate description of the ATV interest shifting more to the north and west towards Colebrook. You may not be aware that Coleman State Park that is almost contiguous to the Balsams land has been subject to a shift in welcoming year-round motorized use recreational accommodations (as well as a block of campsites farter north at Lake Francis State Park- seasonal). https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/s...man-state-park

    A big part of this at Coleman was the state parks having to figure out what to do with major development on state land for decades by the Eckert Foundation. All kinds of housing units for a youth development camp that was called Camp Eh Toh Anee at the old Coleman Lodge former sportsmen's camps. I know I savaged the spelling on that despite being heavily involved in this project for years, but never could spell it right.

  4. #214
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    I have not seen the Balsams SPNHF easement but someone involved with the process claimed that it was very broad, effectively anything but a transmission line corridor. Yes there were some parts of the land were identified as a "special area" that ban any development on a small part of the property and I expect some agreement not to fragment the land but SPNHF has the reputation that they can be quite flexible on their easements. If you look back at the time of the transaction, the Tillottson estate was desperate to sell the Balsams due to legal constraints. At least two potential deals had fallen through and each offer was lower. The people involved with the transaction were locals and I think the majority were against Northern Pass. Eversource was losing the game of landscape "checker" against SPNHF so they thought they had a way to win the game by buying the Balsams, running the lines into Bayroot land and dumping what was left including the resort. That definitely meant the death knell for the resort and any jobs. SPNHF got involved last minute and their solution kept the hopes of the resort alive and allowed the estate to buy down the value of the property. My guess is the estate didnt want to dilute the value to resort so they would have wanted a loose easement.

    The estate eventually gave up and sold the resort to two locals who reportedly covered their purchase price by extensive logging on land that had not been cut since the early 1900s and the fire sale auction. The logging implies a loose easement in at least parts of the property. They also inadvertently ruined the long term development potential of the resort by tearing down some historic structures.

    I still wonder what will happen with the incredibly expensive set of parcels that Eversource bought for Northern Pass. They were going to hand them over to Ride The Wilds in backroom deal but when it came to light the deal was dashed. They can never sell them for anywhere near what they paid for them.

  5. #215
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    I contributed to SPNHF's fund drive for the easement acquisition, but never looked into the details for how it affected recreation. I had a personal stake with NP as the line is within a mile of my house and increased height might have made it visible from my picture window.

  6. #216
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    There is an article in the Berlin Paper today (paywall) that Les Otten's team now owns the project outright. He bought out the share of the local contractor who was one of the partners that bought the resort from the Tillotson Corporation.

    The local contractor and a regional car dealer were the buyers of last resort after the Tillotson estate has received the SPNHF easement proceeds and no other entity wanted to buy the property as a going concern. The two partners who bought it hosted the infamous auction selling off whatever was not nailed down (and some that was) and also did the demolition of some historic buildings that prevented any future developer from gaining access to fairly valuable historic tax credits. Reportedly they also did extensive logging of the back of the property.

  7. #217
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    FYI that there is an article today in the Conway Daily Sun about weddings on the property. One can rent one of three private homes located on the property.

  8. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    FYI that there is an article today in the Conway Daily Sun about weddings on the property. One can rent one of three private homes located on the property.
    They probably saw what was going on with their neighbors and realized they had a ready market. This is my thought since I did not read article as I've used up my free access. Just down the road to Colebrook we watched this effort grow over the past few years https://www.mohawkfalls.com/

    This is also one of the markets we went after while developing the Coleman Lodges at Coleman State Park just up the road, with some success.

  9. #219
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    Too bad they have trashed a portion of the resort around it. I guess a photographer will pick his shots to keep the demo out of the background. Its cash flow and business for local motels and caterers so that is a good thing.

  10. #220
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    I did get a chuckle from the photos that naturally leave out the smoldering ruins on the grounds. I didn't look yet to see where the referenced private residences are located.

  11. #221
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    There is a very long interview with Les Otten and his new partner on the Balsams project in the Colebrook Chronicle

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1d5Z...YIi6memXU/view

    There is some interesting background and some wishing and hoping but no real news on path forward for the big project.

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