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Castleberry Fairs

Balsams owner cancels request for state-backed loan



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Plans to redevelop the Balsmas Resort have been put on hold after owner Les Otten withdrew his request that the state guarantee a $28 million loan for the project. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 05, 2018
DIXVILLE NOTCH — Les Otten, owner of The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, recently withdrew his request for the state to approve a $28 million loan from Service Credit Union to help cover the cost of redevelopment of the resort.

Otten has been planning to upgrade the resort with a hotel, condominiums, a conference center and to expand skiing with additional trails. The cost of the project is $170 million, and the $28 million loan was critical in meeting the goal for expansion and redevelopment. Otten has bean working in the planning stage for five years. Otten said he is reassessing his approach to financing the project.

The former dignitary of the American Skiing Co. had applied for a guarantee of the loan to the state Business Finance Authority, but withdrew is application. Service Credit Union of Portsmouth agreed to provide the loan but required a state guarantee.

Of his decision not to pursue the loan, Otten said that the project could not move forward as planned under the conditions set by the state. He did not elaborate further.

Dick Anagnost, Chairman of the Business Finance Authority, wrote in a statement that there are concerns that the project would risk public money. There are regular conditions in the application process that Otten did not agree to meet, according to the statement. Furthermore, it stated that there was a fear of non-repayment of taxpayer money if the project fails.

Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesperson for Otten, told reporters that Otten is reviewing other options. A total of $142 million is available for the project, but the state guarantee for the $28 million sought under the newly cancelled loan request was vital.

Otten first applied for a $100 million loan in 2016 from Northern Trust & Bank with hopes of an inclusion of a state guaranteed $28 million, but that fell through.

Some officials have been optimistic about the project boosting the economy, providing at least 1,000 jobs for construction and for employees of the resort afterwards.

The resort, owned by Otten and Dan Herbert, closed in 2011 and has been on a hiatus since.

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