Ocean Properties pulls plug on Balsams deal

Portsmouth-based Ocean Properties, the hotel management company that was expected to purchase the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, has pulled out of an agreement to buy the North Country landmark.Closing on the sale of the historic grand hotel to Ocean had been delayed at least two times since the sale of the company was announced in March.The Tillotson Corp., which owns The Balsams as part of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Trust, issued a statement saying, “We are surprised, and saddened by this unexpected news.” The company added that it had put “an enormous amount of work into securing the future of the hotel for the North Country.”The company said it would continue, “despite the setback,” to search for a new owner for the resort, which is a major employer in the North Country.Tillotson said it had called a special meeting of its board and, following that, “we will announce our plan to continue to manage the Balsams.” It said a plan would be unveiled in the next 10 days.The company said it remained “optimistic about the future of the hotel.”In May, Ocean Properties had asked for a second continuation — to June 6 — of the due-diligence period related to the purchase.At the time, Tom Varley of Ocean Properties would give no further comment about the reason for the second extension.But NHBR learned at the time that Ocean was looking to dispose of some parcels of Balsams land to the towns of Colebrook and Dixville Notch, an unincorporated village.Kevin McKinnon, chair of the Colebrook Planning Board and director of the town’s Public Works Department, confirmed that Ocean, at a planning board meeting in May, presented a subdivision application for a small parcel of Balsams acreage.According to McKinnon, Ocean Properties didn’t present a reason for the application request.”The parcel has some small landfills on it,” said McKinnon, speculating that Ocean Properties “didn’t want the liability associated with it.”Tillotson Corp.’s defunct latex rubber manufacturing facility sits within the Balsam’s 7,700-acre holdings.Tillotson Corp., a diversified holding company based in Lexington, Mass., holds the deed to The Balsams and has daily management of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Charitable Trust. The corporation, itself an asset of the trust, is in the process of liquidating all of the trust’s assets — including The Balsams – to charity or to be sold off.No purchase price for the resort was disclosed.Ocean Properties owns and operates more than 100 hotels across North America. – JEFF FEINGOLD/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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