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Thread: Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

  1. #1
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    Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

    Les Otten has gotten involved with the Balsams recently and the hype machine is starting to crank up.

    "Ski Area Size Will Rival Killington"

    The link to the article in the Berlin Paper is here, you do need to do a free registration to read it.

    http://edition.pagesuite-professiona...7-07ab466afc1a

    Do note that there has been similar hype in the past by the developers who bought the place, but now Les is involved. Ultimately it going o take a lot of third party money to build it and unless they get the investments for visas program in place like Jay Peak I dont know how they will get hold of it.

    I still question why folks from Southern NH and Mass would voluntarilly drive past Waterville Valley, Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods and then voluntarily keep going 1 to 2 more hours to Dixville notch but I guess I dont have the developers view of things. It sure looks to me to be the same issue as Saddleback plenty of mountain but too far and no nearby amenities. Of course Northern NH has the Berlin International airport .

    Heck if it will pump some money into an area that desperately needs it great, but I dont know if someone should sign a mortgage on the longevity of the resort.

  2. #2
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    Maybe the idea is to try to have a resort that is sufficiently self-contained (i.e., a destination resort) such that day-trippers are not the target audience but instead folks with condos/time shares there who are staying/renting for more than a day. It would be great if someone with tens of millions would donate a big chunk to an endowment such that the Balsams could be rebuilt and then run at a loss on a pure P/L basis but break even with the income from the endowment. If I had Bill Gates' money, I would do just that because I'd rather help people here than overseas.

  3. #3
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    Les Otten and the two other developers are not known as altruistic individuals. They are developers, they buy low, set up a deal, get others to invest the majority of the money and they keep an equity stake if its successful. If there are some benefits to the surrounding area, that is a side effect although a good developer figures out a way to get a cut of all the business. Waterville Valley is a good example, the developer sets up the ski area as major draw and then make money off the resort development.

    Businesses are created, taxes paid, people are employed, some folks get to live in area they want to and more services are available for visitors. Some will argue against building something like this from scratch but the reality is the area is already developed, its on private land and odds are few folks could even locate it on a map.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Fisher Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I still question why folks from Southern NH and Mass would voluntarilly drive past Waterville Valley, Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods and then voluntarily keep going 1 to 2 more hours to Dixville notch but I guess I dont have the developers view of things. It sure looks to me to be the same issue as Saddleback plenty of mountain but too far and no nearby amenities. Of course Northern NH has the Berlin International airport .
    Having worked in the ski instructing/racing world for many years, all I can say by extension is: How then can so many ski areas along the I-70 corridor in CO exist? Well, simply because they have each made themselves a unique destination. I've skied all over CO, but heck, the much longer trip to isolated Telluride was well worth it. People will go out of their way for something truly unique, even if there is something basically comparable nearby. Offer a service no one else has, or in a way better than everyone else, and you have a basis for success.

    Jay Peak is a great local example as mentioned earlier. Heck, when working the New England ski scene, we had lots of visitors from Quebec. This despite the fact that Tremblant, Sutton, Le Massif, Mont Sainte Anne, etc, are much closer for them. Dixville Notch area was big hit for many visitors from Quebec for quite sometime. But when quality began to suffer, visits lagged.

    Take the Balsams, make it a complete, self-sustaining destination (i.e. Jay Peak), infuse investment (EB5), and it may just work. I hope so, the area could use it.
    " by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in.."- From the letter of my great uncle Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry) to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.

    LIVE FREE OR DIE - DEATH IS NOT THE GREATEST OF EVILS
    Gen. John Stark July 1809

  5. #5
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    Another update with some numbers on the extent of the development envisioned

    http://www.unionleader.com/article/2...late=mobileart

    According to documents obtained by the Union Leader, plans include expanding the ski area and the new Balsams would have three separate villages with a total of 4,400 residential units, 3,500 of which would be around Lake Gloriette; 400 at the Wilderness; and 500 at the golf course.Work on upgrading the existing resort would begin this summer, with a reopening in fall 2015, which is when work at the ski area would start.

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    Where are they going to fit 4000 units? That would completely change the grounds there.

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    If you haven't been up there recently take a look on google earth at the current condition the place, but I believe the intent is to completely change the grounds. I would expect they would pack in multistory buildings set up as resort hotels similar to what ASC started doing at Attitash. Considering the total lack of infrastructure in the area, they have put in water and wastewater treatment plants, power lines, police, fire and ambulance public works, you name it.

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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Strikes me that "plan" would kill the goose that laid the golden egg ... at least, it would kill my enjoyment of the area.

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    Senior Member hiking lady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Strikes me that "plan" would kill the goose that laid the golden egg ... at least, it would kill my enjoyment of the area.
    Agreed. Sounds like a bit of a pipe dream to me.

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    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    My vote would be for a huge expansion of Dixville Notch State Park. Of course that's a pipe dream as well.

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    IMHO - Much as I appreciated the old Balsams, the reality was that it had not been a viable operation for many years and was subsidized by the owner. Many aspects of the operation were dated and the overall physical plant was built for an era where oil was cheap and therefore the heating costs were a major burden. Many of the rooms didn't meet the expectations of what folks have come to expect for resort hotel rooms. Barring some other millionaire buying it and running it as a hobby, the options were reinvent it or let is deteriorate or end up in large fire like many of the classic hotels in the region. Although the current vision is grandiose at least it is a vision. The 4000 units is 10 year plan predicated on I expect many phases of short term plans. I personally don't see where there is the demand for this dream but I and most VFTT readers are not the target audience. The Coos county region has been economically depressed for many years and the overall trend is downwards. Although a logging economy will remain, that is not enough to support a local economy. To the East, Errol NH is facing extinction as the tax base and population deteriorates to the point where they will have no local school which will drain any hope of bringing in a younger population. If this development brings back some steady work for the locals and provides an opportunity for professionals to move into the area I don't see a downside. For many folks probably even on VFTT, their knowledge of Northern NH stops at RT 2 and I expect a fair share of folks would have a tough time being able to even drive to the Balsams. This economic impact of this project is going to be far more lasting than hacking a strip from Canada to southern NH to build a power line.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 04-28-2014 at 02:32 PM.

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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    (Well put, peakbagger...well put...especially the "hacking a strip from Canada" line. I concur. Thanks for providing some additional background information for folks about issues facing the North Country.)

  13. #13
    Senior Member Fisher Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    For many folks probably even on VFTT, there knowledge of Northern NH stops at RT 2 and I expect a fair share of folks would have a tough time being able to even drive to the Balsams. This economic impact of this project is going to be far more lasting than hacking a strip from Canada to southern NH to build a power line.
    ha ha 3, 16, & 26, some of my favorite numbers. And the less people who know '13 Mile Woods' the better.
    " by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in.."- From the letter of my great uncle Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry) to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.

    LIVE FREE OR DIE - DEATH IS NOT THE GREATEST OF EVILS
    Gen. John Stark July 1809

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    We love LL Cote. How does that place stay in business??

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    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    We love LL Cote. How does that place stay in business??
    A similar establishment in Groveton folded and is now vacant

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