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Thread: Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

  1. #76
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    Gee, big surprise

    http://www.berlindailysun.com/index....ews&Itemid=442

    The resort reportedly had made promises to local businesses that they would be building by this past spring. They were using this as a hammer on the county and state to rush the approval process. Given the link with Northern Pass for future financing and the delay by the SEC hearings for NP I expect the financing has gotten a lot more difficult. They already have money in hand from Northern Pass for the early phase permitting so I suspect that the schedule will lag over the winter in hopes that NP gets the go ahead in 2017.

    Starting to looks like the Springfield monorail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marge_vs._the_Monorail

  2. #77
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post

    Starting to looks like the Springfield monorail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marge_vs._the_Monorail
    You can't throw that out there without a link to the town meeting scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDOI0cq6GZM

  3. #78
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    NHPR has a series on the Balsams project, its in three parts. It raises a lot of questions

    http://nhpr.org/post/special-series-...-redevelopment

  4. #79
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    http://www.berlindailysun.com/index....ews&Itemid=442

    Things are definitely starting to drag since the financial link with NP was revealed. Its interesting to note that the developer is starting to let things lag based on cost. The lack of applying for the state funding is also interesting as the state funding comes with strings attached that possibly the Balsams doesn't want to be tied. On the other hand the reference to one named bank is positive.

    The ice wind throw issue is definitely something that could rear its head significantly. Prior to the Balsams development, the safety zone around the existing wind towers were set quite large, it didn't really impact many except for winter hikers and snow machine folks. In order for the early phases of the Balsams ski area expansion to expand skiable terrain, they need the safety zones minimized. There are whisperings in the area purported to be from folks who work around the wind farm that ice throw can be significant in certain conditions. Its a known industry issue so it should not be a surprise. With a potential height of up to 500' from the ground, the physics is that any ice thrown off a blade is probably going to make quite dent or a hole in sheet metal and potentially seriously injure a person. I don't know if the states recreational liability waiver in place for ski areas would apply to someone getting harpooned by an icicle? I expect that any side deals with the wind farm cover such a contingency. Some of the future phase terrain seems to be not impacted by the windfarm so it may comes down to having to accelerate later phases of the project earlier to expand terrain outside of the turbine safety zones which will impact financing.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 07-28-2016 at 09:27 AM.

  5. #80
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    Here is some additional information on the ice throw restrictions on both Brookfield (company that runs wind turbines) and Balsams:
    http://indepthnh.org/2016/07/28/lawy...es-at-balsams/

  6. #81
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Peakbagger, thank you for staying on top of this and other news from the North Country, and giving us regular updates. You have become a reliable source of information for an area that many of us care about. Thank you!

  7. #82
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    Peakbagger, thank you for staying on top of this and other news from the North Country, and giving us regular updates. You have become a reliable source of information for an area that many of us care about. Thank you!
    Ditto! Our resident Kiplinger Letter of the North.

  8. #83
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  9. #84
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    If the loans are guaranteed by the feds or state agencies, where's the risk to Otten if it folds? Taxpayers pay for it and try to sell it to another investor, probably at a loss? Public money shouldn't be used for private investors.

  10. #85
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    The claim is that currently the Balsams is a deteriorated facility which has gotten more so since 2011 when it finally closed and then stripped clean by the current owners. There is no significant property tax revenue and more importantly no jobs associated with a defunct resort. Realistically its currently a fire waiting to happen which befell many other grand resorts. The ski area will just slowly grow in after whatever infrastructure that can be removed is removed, like Evergreen Valley in Stoneham (I will make a plug for Jeremy's lost ski areas website). The golf course might try to survive but I expect it will become a hayfield eventually. The theory with making the state loans is that there will be taxable value created due to new construction and that's where the state expects to be paid back. There is the equivalent of a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district in place where any increase in property taxes associated with the project goes back to pay off the state loans. There is also the state room and meals tax for a large portion of any money spent by customers. Thus the rational for state and federal loans or loan guarantees.

    I think the theory is even if the resort doesn't make it long term that the taxable assets will remain and be a better potential revenue source to the state and county than is what is there currently. The resort claims that even with this warm winter that they kept snow records and they would have had a reasonable winter with low enough temps to retain the snowpack. They are on the same snow track as Jay Peak which usually has snow even on a poor year elsewhere. Generally on low snow winters like the past one Northern NH does seem to keep a snow pack as evidenced by the trucks with Mass plates and trailers full of sleds heading north. The Balsams concept has a pipeline to the Androscoggin River so they have an unlimited supply of water for snow. In past years many of the major resorts in the region are seriously limited on water available for snow making and the Balsams will not have this limitation. Les Otten made his first millions at Sunday River where he bet that snowmaking and extensive terrain was the future and two warm winters in a row proved him right, when other slopes were closed or very terrain limited Les had the snow guns cranking. If he hits a couple of winters in row where southern New England and even the Whites has a low snow year, that could pull traffic up to the resort and some of the skiers will buy into the real estate development which is the real profit maker.

    There is also another little known advantage that I expect the Balsams is banking on. Power for the resort is coming from the Coos Grid through the Millsfield Wind Farm. The Coos Grid is currently significantly undersized for the amount of renewable power plants connected to it to the point where there are many days where the power cannot be shipped to southern NH and on to the rest of New England. In this situation the power plants in Coos County are forced to limit their production. With the exception of the Berlin Biomass plant which can be idled, the hydros are run of the river so they don't have much option to turn off and the windfarms have an incentive in place where they can pay to sell power and still make a profit if the wind is blowing. The Balsams is upstream of the congestion point so they have the potential for cheap electric power from the wind farm. The wind farm can also sell power directly to the Balsams without paying transmission fees to Eversource. The combination of the two is a low cost for power which is major competitive advantage compared to other resorts farther south as the electric power to run the snow gun pumps and compressors is a significant portion of a lift ticket.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-09-2016 at 07:55 AM.

  11. #86
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    http://www.berlindailysun.com/newsx/...-application#/

    Looks like they are cleaning up loose ends where they can and reducing cash outflow until they get an indication on which way Northern Pass is going.

  12. #87
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    http://www.colebrookchronicle.com/Aug262016.pdf

    For those who haven't experienced a sales presentation from Les Otten there is an article in the Colebrook Chronicle today that give a glimpse of it. Interval Ownership (IE time shares) got a real bad rep years ago and despite Les's presentation it still sure looks like a sucker bet. Then again there reportedly "a sucker born every minute" so I expect there are folks who will take it hook line and sinker.

  13. #88
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I've inquired on that offer and concluded it was a lousy deal with too much in the control of others over the associated use and maintenance cost/fees. My interest is only in fee simple.

    Also, I was turned off by the Disneyworld like character of the comprehensive project. I'd opt for more tranquility and fine dining in such accommodations.

    On the other hand, we bought a timeshare, a house sleeping six, on Cape Cod over 30 years ago and have enjoyed it tremendously every year since. A fun family tradition. Bought it knowing it would not be a great real estate investment but at the time needed something like that to force me to take a vacation. From those standpoints it has paid off nicely.

    The Balsams deal could turn out to be such a rich experience for some. Plus, there's the gratification of participating in the restoration of this landmark and the gracious living it represented.

  14. #89
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    Thanks for the updates. I think the younger generations are more into the Disneyworld/cruise ship all-inclusive resort vacation. Doesn't appeal to me, but I think I am in the small minority. And a lot of folks these days are not interested in being tied to one location. They like the idea of having mobility. Again, not my bag, but I can understand the thinking. That notwithstanding, it still strikes me that getting people to this remote location will be a challenge, though with population growth in the US continuing to dramatically increase, I suppose eventually the Balsams won't be that remote.

  15. #90
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    A recent piece on the Balsams discussing the Global Warming rational for the project. https://www.abqjournal.com/910379/sa...of-resort.html

    Interesting coincidence to find it on a day where the temp just got over zero degrees!

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