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Owners announce progress in Balsams revival

The owners of the Balsams Grand Resort said yesterday they’re in talks with a businessman and former part-owner of the Boston Red Sox on how to redevelop the storied North Country hotel.

Owners Dan Dagess and Dan Hebert said they’ve entered into an agreement with Les Otten. Any final deal depends on a “number of conditions” and will involve other interested parties. They did not release any specifics and said they were talking about “big concepts” instead.

“Dixville’s unique and majestic location offers great potential, and this agreement represents a first step in securing a move forward for the North Country’s economy,” the pair said in a statement.

Otten founded the American Skiing Co. after starting in the business at Sunday River in Maine. By 1997, the company had holdings from Vermont to California. But in 2001, the company was heavily in debt and Otten resigned as chairman and chief executive. Soon after, Otten and a group of investors led by John Henry bought the Red Sox for $660 million. He sold his share of the team in 2007.

“The opportunities at the Balsams are significant,” Otten said. “There are few recreation sites in North America that have such strong potential for visitors over all seasons.”

He acknowledged there are many hurdles to clear but called preliminary discussions promising.

The Balsams, where the nation’s first presidential ballots are traditionally cast, closed in 2010, taking with it the 200-300 jobs it provided in a hard-hit part of the state. Dagess and Hebert bought it in 2011.

The resort, about 20 miles from the Canadian border, started as an inn in 1861.

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