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Glen House project likely to be put on hold for a year


March 17, 2010
GREEN'S GRANT — A $13.5 million hotel project in Pinkham Notch will likely be delayed a year.

A final decision will be made today as to whether or not to put a year's hold on constructing a new Glen House Hotel on Route 16, explained general manager Howie Wemyss of the Mount Washington Auto Road in reply to an e-mail inquiry.

"We are meeting on Wednesday, March 17, to decide what the next steps are and whether we will put the project on hold," he said.

"We are still very much behind the hotel project, but our timing is unfortunate," Mr. Wemyss explained.

"Our ability to attract New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) as a large piece of the equity in this project has made most of the small banks we would normally deal with very concerned."

Using NMTCs is a complex process that has some strings attached with, which smaller banks are apparently not used to or comfortable with, he said, adding that this has put them in a bind. Most larger banks that routinely work with NMTCs are currently not loaning at all to the hospitality sector because of the down economy, and the smaller banks that are still loaning to small businesses are uneasy about dealing with NMTCs.

"Couple that with the general uncertainly concerning the economy, and we have not been able to find a banking partner that is willing to work through this project with us," Mr. Wemyss explained. State officials and economic development specialists, he said, have all met with us to try and help out but without that lead bank there is no forward motion possible."

Timing is also very important, he explained. "It's important that we break ground in the spring so we can open the following spring to take advantage of the full summer season," Mr. Wemyss said. The hotel would be open year-round, attracting hiking and outdoor enthusiasts, including cross-country drawn to Great Glen Trails and alpine skiers drawn to Wildcat Mountain Ski Area and Tuckerman Ravine.

Preliminary details of the proposed 80-room wood-shingle-and-stone hotel were outlined on June 25, 2009, when the developers and their associates had a preliminary consultation with members of the CoŲs County Planning Board for the Unincorporated Places.

Mr. Wemyss and Sam Appleton, president of the family-owned Mt. Washington Summit Road Company (MWSRC), as well as Tom Acomb managing principal of Acomb Ostendorf & Associates of Portland, Me., and Orlando, Fla.; John Benoit and Marc Dugas of the Portland-based Olympia Group, which owns and manages hotels; and Andrew Nadeau of Horizons Engineering were all on hand to discuss the proposed hotel which will boast commanding views of Mt. Washington.

The target completion date was designed to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the Auto Road, which saw the first Concord coach reach the summit on August 8, 1861.

Early sketches displayed that night indicated that the 40,000- to 55,000-square-foot structure would fall within the height restrictions of the conservation easement held by the Society for the Protection of N. H Forests.

The building, then proposed to be on the east side of Route 16 which appear to ledge-filled for easy construction, and now apparently planned for construction on the west side of the two-lane highway, either on or near the site of the Great Glen Trails base lodge that was destroyed by an explosion and fire on March 23, 2001.

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