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Thread: Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

  1. #46
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Years ago in my fledgling search for a career, I was in cooking school and stayed there for a workshop. It was very nice for sure and if being in a self enclosed entity is your thing its fine. Myself and I think this goes for many others, the abilty to go off site and shop, dine, pub crawl or whatever is a nice option. Up there its not an option, I feel for the money to stay there this is a hard crux to overcome. Think North Conway, Lake Placid, Vail, lake Tahoe, you can stay in a fine resort and still have the surrounding offerings to mix it up. To me the saving grace would be to market Canadian tourist, but many Canadians love North Conway so who knows if that would work. Another consideration is the cost, if it were cost effective that would help, but with the money Otten's putting into it, I dont see cheap rates or anything close to attract budget minded travelers.

  2. #47
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    That's why I created the original post title. Sugarloaf or Killington (and of course Sunday) River is the model they appear to be going after. From a profit incentive, complete control of the real estate is a key for a developer. Sure some subsidiary development will appear on the fringes, Eddie Nash will probably end up with restaurant in front of the junkyard, but I think the goal is that the developer gets a cut of every dollar spent once someone enters the resort. They end up leasing the commercial lots and retaining some control by restrictions on the lease. Les Otten's business model is to sell condos in a hotel type structure. The units are sold at a high price and then the owners are offered the option for the resort to rent the rooms while the owners are not there. Even if the owners elect to not rent, the condo fees are long term revenue stream. The owners think they have long term appreciation on the properties, but the resort will keep building new properties for years. If the developers do it right, they cash out their investment early and keep a long term revenue stream. Usually at some point institutional investors get involved to buy the cash flow. Or like American Skiing Corp, the development goes IPO and the original developer make a bundle.

    I think the other tangent they may be banking on is the trend for young professionals to want to live or near cities rather than in the "country". At some point those folks want to visit the "woods" yet they want the amenities they are used to in the city. When I look at the architect rendering I envision a small woodsy Disneyworld.

    Waterville Valley in NH pulled it off and arguably Loon has the same model but both are close to Boston so they get both day use and long term. Evergreen Valley in Maine was intended to be this model but failed miserably. Bretton Woods tried and failed, then tried again and had big plans under the new owner OMNI but after the real estate bust OMNI backed off and folks are wondering what is next.

    ts definitely a large snowball that requires a large block of money to start rolling. It has to gain speed and girth quickly to keep rolling Rarely does it end well for the snowball but along the way it throws off a lot of cash for those in the right place.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 03-01-2015 at 06:23 AM.

  3. #48
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I just came back from Jay Peak, and felt this would be a target they may be shooting for. Self-contained, full resort with no other "town" to speak of. From Southern NH, it's virtually the same to go to the Balsams as it is to Jay. In both cases, they would be drawing crowds from Canada, too. Which there were plenty.

  4. #49
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    Good comparison with Jay, I am not a skier but I expect Jay has better terrain due to elevation and Jay has the "pay for Visa" money to pay for the expansion.

  5. #50
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I'm by no means an expert skier, but I believe the lure of Jay was the backcountry, and the amount of snow they supposedly get (I say supposedly because there are rumors they inflate their totals, but it seemed more than fine to me). As for the backcountry, you don't necessarily need elevation. I'd like to see the Balsams cut some trails with minimal clearing so keep some of the areas remote, that could draw some people. Also, they have to not have a single location for meals and such. Jay has a few different ones, enough of a variety to keep it the atmosphere fresh for 3-4 days. They are now catering more to families with their waterpark and other activities, not sure if Balsams will ever do anything like that, but it's something to consider.

    Yes, that EB5 Visa thing has been controversial, but has helped them with some quick cash.

  6. #51
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    One more link from the Berlin daily Sun, still no good site plan but lots of details on the economics http://www.berlindailysun.com/index....ews&Itemid=442

    The concept layout of the ski side appears to be the Sunday River approach, set up multiple "mountains" interconnected by lifts offering a variety of terrain (and future potential to market slope side housing). The concept I have seen increases the current terrain by a factor of 6 or 8.

    Like all of the north country, the resort will be handicapped by mud season and far worse black fly season. I expect they will try to expand the resort season into summer and fall. One big potential is ATV users. The Balsams is right in the center of the new county wide ATV trail network. Currently accommodations are limited in the area with Gorham close to booked on weekends. Gorham is actually inconvenient to the bulk of the trails. Despite the stereo type of ATV folks being less than affluent rural folks, there are large number of ATV enthusiasts that come to town with credit card in hand and willing to wield it. The majority of the local small business folks will take ATVer or Snowmachiners over hikers in a heartbeat as they tend to spend far more. There is also a large snowmachine trail network underserved in the area they would probably try to serve it but I expect the slopeside condo market is more profitable than a trailside condo.

  7. #52
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    It was very nice for sure and if being in a self enclosed entity is your thing its fine. Myself and I think this goes for many others, the abilty to go off site and shop, dine, pub crawl or whatever is a nice option. Up there its not an option, I feel for the money to stay there this is a hard crux to overcome. Think North Conway, Lake Placid, Vail, lake Tahoe, you can stay in a fine resort and still have the surrounding offerings to mix it up
    Hard to say what the best outcome is. I am sure that there are many in that region who would want the inlfux of jobs and commerce, while others would prefer that the region remain unchanged from what it is today. Personally, I like Errol and Colebrook as they are, but I can see the flip side. Balsams gets developed -- perhaps not quite as grandiose as Otten's current plans -- and then commerce develops in Colebrook and Errol (small shops, restaurants, even some B&B's for those not wanting to experience resort life 24/7). In that regard, the resort is not relegated to becoming a self-enclosed entity but does become the epicenter of the region. Whether creating a destination resort can overcome its remoteness remains to be seen. I sense that rehabbing the Balsams to what it once was is not financially viable, and as such Otten & co. believe that they have to go all out to create a large, destination resort that people will go to for extended periods.

  8. #53
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    The NH senate committee voted unanimously to move the bill to create the special tax district to a vote to the full senate, it then has to go to the house and finally the governor. The governor has said she supports the project. If the committee had elected to table it for study it would have been the end of the project for at least the short term. The house could also derail it

    No idea if the CNL announcement of the potential sales of may regional ski resorts would impact the project.

  9. #54
    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    From the Berlin Sun...
    http://www.berlindailysun.com/index....ews&Itemid=442

    I'm just what the consensus is among VFTT folks, pro or con?
    Add life to your years!

  10. #55
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    I haven't heard anyone really object to the concept, the area is already developed and the proposed resort area is industrial timberland out of the viewshed in an area that is not visited by a lot of folks. I think the bigger debate is if its a viable long term development.

  11. #56
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    Up date, NH finance committee voted overwhelmingly to support giving the unorganized territory the right to issue bonds. Next stop full house and then on to the governor.

    A potential issue is that a odd consortium of conservation groups and the Brookfield Power who owns many of the hydroplants on the river are contesting the permit to withdraw water from the Androscoggin for snowmaking.

  12. #57
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    The last key permit for the project was approved. http://www.wmur.com/escape-outside/b...ermit/34447708

    I skimmed the Permit and it doesn't look like AMC or Brookfield had any significant impacts to the permit, but there may have been some private agreements in place prior to the permit.

  13. #58
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    Saw in conway daily that the 9 mile errol pipeline was approved. Can anyone confirm?

  14. #59
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    That's what the prior post linked to

  15. #60
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    For your viewing pleasure here is a link to the detailed site application http://www.cooscountynh.us/sites/coo...ewartstown.pdf

    Pages 52 to 55 are most likely the most interesting graphics http://www.cooscountynh.us/sites/coo...ewartstown.pdf

    The Berlin Daily Sun has an article about the project http://www.berlindailysun.com/index....ews&Itemid=442

    The most significant thing is the number of units 4600 maximum over the course of the project and the quadrupling in size of the ski terrain

    A development of that size is going to completely change the north country of NH. It will most likely rival Berlin for population. As to where the support staff are going to come from, who knows but the region is not going to mind trying to solve the problem.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-11-2015 at 09:21 AM.

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