Balsams Will Seek Government Backing on $40M of Balsams’ $143M Project

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Chris Jensen photo

In 2012 the furnishings of the Balsams were sold at auction.

Balsalms Develop Les Otten

Chris Jensen photo

Balsams Developer Les Otten

By Chris Jensen

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

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

But Tranchemontagne says 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.SD.A. spokeswoman, Pollaidh Major said.

Officials at the BFA and U.S.D.A. say 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-around resort that would offer a wide range of activities and during its first year need about 375 employees.

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 the 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’s still working on others.