Balsams Update - Go Big or Go home

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My guess is timing wise, getting the final permits for the hotel and then building a brand new hotel, district heating system and a 12.3 mile long pipe from the Androscoggin to the ski area along with the ski area is going to take awhile which will allow them to develop the rest of the amenities. The biggest issue is probably going to be the lack of skilled trades to build it all. Most of the trades are centered around the Conway area supporting the boom down there.

A local built a new gravel pit just down the road several years ago when the project was first announced that it would be up and running in year or so. I think he held out and will finally cash out several years late.
The other question comes to mind is if the Balsams does get reopened, will it affiliate with the large ski conglomerates that share intermountain passes? That appears to be where the ski industry has evolved to. Coincidentally, Les Otten's ASC (American Ski Company) that crashed and burnt was a failed start of ski conglomerates. American Skiing Company History - Otten has done several interviews and stump speeches over the years on how he was the innocent consummate ski resort builder operator focused on the ski experience, that was lured into high finance and turned into a figurehead with control wrested away from him by the "evil financiers". BTW he also "saved the Red Sox" ;) More than a few locals tied to Sunday River were encouraged to invest heavily in ASC as their way to share some of the success and many lost that investment.

I wonder how he will retain control this time? There is going to be some major financial backing for the project, and the backers will have an expectation that it will be successful. He and his management group will ultimately serve at their discretion. He could go the Waterville Valley route and stay independent, but it may be hard to find the political dynasty that keeps an eye on Waterville Valley.
Otten knows that serious skiers aren't going to pay the bills at a Balsams ski hill. But I certainly hope the endeavor is successful if they do start first with the ski area by itself. Will be interesting for sure.
If not successful, although he is no spring chicken he will probably move on to the next project. Yes The Balsams reinvention is a lot about the money but there has to be some passion too. Which Less has always had.
BTW, The record of Decision is on the Coos County Website.
If the "devil is in the details", these are the details.

There is a clause that they can run the ski area without the hotel by setting up shuttle buses, thus the discussion of running it as effectively a day use ski area (like Wildcat) with no significant onsite housing could happen. My guess is that the limited housing already there (currently used for weddings) will be used as marketing to sell units to prospective buyers of units. I expect it could be a pretty enticing way of selling units giving exclusive access to the resort before it opens to the day use public.

The discussion on continued public access to hiking trails is on page 11 and 12. I clipped the map from the ROD below.
By the way the ROD is written the Balsams really wanted "belt and suspenders" that now and in the future even if the state laws change, that they will not be liable for hikers.

The Applicant shall continue to allow public access to Cascade Brook and Table Rock via foot paths. The general location of the trails subject to this requirement is shown on the next page; however, the Applicant may require portions of these trails to be relocated.

This condition shall remain in effect unless the Planning Board determines that there has been an amendment to or repeal of RSA 508:14 Landowner Liability Limited, without State adoption of substantially similar landowner liability protection as exists as of the date of this approval, that would significantly reduce liability protection for the Applicant. The current language is as follows: An owner, occupant, or lessee of land, including the state or any political subdivision, who without charge permits any person to use land for recreational purposes or as a spectator of recreational activity, shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage in the absence of intentionally caused injury or damage. (RSA 508:14,I). The Applicant shall not be responsible for trail maintenance or signage. The Applicant may impose reasonable rules and restrictions for public access including requirements to remain on trails, restricting inappropriate behavior damaging to the environment or inconsistent with the use of the trails and related areas for recreational purposes, prohibition of commercial activities, and prohibition of activities other than hiking. The applicant may also temporarily restrict access to trails during periods of construction and maintenance in the vicinity of trails or for resort events utilizing the trails.

I am bit curious if the Balsams objections were an oversite or if they wanted to control access to Table Rock? For exclusive use by their guests (or maybe a good place to anchor a zip line ;) ?

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BTW, The last plan I heard of is that the white buildings shown in the report will be torn down as they "are unsuitable for redevelopment". The prior owners lost access to fairly valuable historic tax credits, so no incentive to restore.
The old buildings and area near where the biomass plant was are a complete mess. Very sad scene - all caved in/half torn down. Would be nice to at least see that area cleaned up.
It is interesting when I go on Google Earth and run street view, the images predate the demolition. A lot of the PR photos used also show the resort as it had looked prior to random destruction by the prior owners.

They do plan to have a biomass district heating system, I wouldn't expect any power generation. Given that Les is or was a principal of Maine Energy Systems over in Bethel I am surprised he didnt go with pellets but for a system that size chips are better match.
The wooden structures are in rough shape/partially caved in. Foundation on the right behind the closed road sign is the former biomass plant. Pic from January 2023.

Balsams 2023.jpg
The old style of wooden construction was a fire waiting to happen. Usually balloon frame, once they started burning there was no way of stopping it. The demise of many White Mountain Grand hotels. I think the plan is keep the dark grey/green structures with the towers to the left which may be of concrete construction and rip all the other major buildings in the center and right down and replace with new buildings styled to look old. Hopefully the do a better job than the new Glen House which is just a standard hotel box with some tag on trim. My guess is the new structures will resemble the grand hotel built at Attitash which I believe was built during Les's ASC tenure.
I thought we saw somewhere that rehabbing the towers was going to be cost-prohibitive. But I might just be making that up. I stayed in them right before the closure and they were in rough shape back then.
I did some looking and this recent link refers to the Hampshire House (the gray towers) as being renovated into condos MODEL RESIDENCES

There are various references to tearing down portions of the Dix house but I cannot find any specific details. This snip from 2015 shows the core Dix house building torn down with the wings gone. I am pretty sure somewhere I saw a more recent interview with Les Otten that regrettably the Dix house could not be rehabbed and would be replaced with a new structure. The new Gondola and ski back bridge comes into the 1866 plaza.

Thanks. I could see why it might be more cost effective to tear down and rebuild a wooden structure, so maybe the Dix building was what I was thinking of.
I missed the Coos County planning board meeting last evening but heard from a reliable source that the project got effectively a seven year extension. Last year they were in big rush to get approvals to do all the logging and prep work for the phase 1 slopes and lifts. As far as I know nothing has been done.