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Major Resort Proposed For N.H. North Country Poised To Move Forward

Chris Jensen
New Hampshire Public Radio
Floor plans for the Balsams resort were on display in Colebrook, N.H. last week when developer Les Otten spoke to the Coos County Planning Board. Otten's project, portrayed as providing an economic boost to the North Country, has gotten state financing.

A resort developer who used to own ski areas in Vermont says he's confident that an ambitious project planned for New Hampshire's North Country will soon move forward.

Balsams resort developer Les Otten got state-backed financing for the Balsams resort, a project portrayed as providing a huge economic boost to the region.

Audio from this story will be posted at approximately 11 a.m. on Monday, June 1.

Otten appeared in Colebrook Wednesday night to update the Coos County Planning Board onthe project and answer questions from about five dozen people in the audience.

With the so-called Balsams bill having been signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan earlier this month, Otten was more confident about the project. He said he hopes construction will begin before the end of the year.

The bill becoming law opens the door for a state-backed $28 million loan that Otten had said was crucial.

“So, with the passage of Senate Bill 30, I am feeling much less tentative about that portion of the project," he said. "It is the little extra kick that the project really needed to really look good on paper from a financial standpoint.”

But the loan – which must be approved by the Business Finance Authority – isn't a done deal. And various elements of the project still require approval from state regulators and the planning board.

So, Otten said he doesn’t have a fixed date for construction to begin.

“If it happens in September, great. If it happens in January, great. Even if it should slide past that, which I don’t anticipate, I think the project has got some really strong wings now," Otten says.

Originally Otten said he hoped to begin construction next month. But he said he misjudged the time it would take to get Senate Bill 30 passed.

Some legislators questioned whether it was wise to guarantee a $28 million bank loan to Otten, even if the resort itself was the collateral.

Nevertheless, with the enthusiastic and relentless support of state economic development officials, the bill eventually passed in the House and Senate by considerable margins and it was quickly signed by Hassan.

Chris Jensen is the North Country reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio, where this story originally aired.

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