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Balsams resort to seek gov’t backing for project

By Staff | Aug 4, 2016

Balsams resort developer Les Otten needs “critically important” federal and state guarantees for bank loans on $40 million of his $143 million project, spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said.

However, Otten has yet to file applications for either, according to the agencies involved.

But Tranchemontagne said Otten’s Dixville Capital LLC hopes “to have things finalized and applications submitted soon.”

The largest chunk would be a $28 million bank loan. Otten has said he will ask the state to guarantee the loan through the state’s Business Finance Authority. The BFA can guarantee the entire amount.

A guarantee on the remainder – a $12 million bank loan – will be sought through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, Tranchemontagne confirmed.

On a $12 million loan, the U.S.D.A. would typically guarantee 60 percent, U.S.D.A. spokeswoman, Pollaidh Major said.

Officials at the BFA and U.S.D.A. said the resort would be the collateral.

That $40 million is part of $98 million in loans being considered by a bank in Woburn, Mass., Tranchemontagne said.

He said another $45 million will come from private investments in the resort.

“U.S.D.A. Rural Development has been asked what we can do to help redevelopment of the Balsams,” said Ted Brady, the director of the program for Vermont and New Hampshire.

“We are potentially able to help by guaranteeing loans for banks. We are potentially able to help by investing in the community surrounding Dixville Notch. There’s a whole host of places we can potentially help,” he said.

Otten has said he has “millions” of his own money invested in the project, although he has declined to provide a specific amount.

He has plans for a huge, year-round resort that would offer a wide range of activities and would need about 375 employees during its first year.

State officials have said they strongly support Otten’s effort, seeing it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would provide a huge economic boost to the region, which has suffered since nearby paper mills closed.

Otten already has six important local, state or federal permits including zoning amendments and permission to draw water from the Androscoggin River for snowmaking. But, he said, he’s still working on others.

InDepthNH is a nonprofit investigative news website focused on holding government accountable.


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