Cranmore to Undergo $50 Million Capital Project


Cranmore to Undergo $50 Million Capital Project

SAM Magazine—North Conway, N.H., Jan. 28, 2016—The biggest ski town/resort news could just happen at quaint, historical Cranmore Mountain in the coming years. In a group press conference on Wednesday, Boston entrepreneur Joe O’Donnell, along with his partner, the father-son team of Brian and Tyler Fairbank (of Jiminy Peak, Bromley, and Cranmore) detailed a $50 million project and improvement plan that they hope to break ground on this spring.

The plan calls for a slopeside development called “Kearsarge Brook,” which will marry lodging, residential, retail, and a variety of amenities. But their goal is actually bigger: to re-invigorate North Conway, N.H., back to being the iconic ski town it was in the mid 1900s, or as O’Donnell said, to “reboot” the region.

“I love the area and I think it can be rebooted,” said O’Donnell, pointing out that with the creation and growth of Settler’s Green, the outlet shopping development he was involved in from the start 27 years ago, it has already “gone from a two season to a four season destination.”

He added that the aim of catapulting North Conway into a world-class destination isn’t a long shot. “What we are talking about here is creating a world class community from a first-class one,” he said. “This is not a zero to 10 situation.”

The plan includes, when complete, 106 new residential condominium residences at the base of Cranmore, and six new buildings that will eventually replace all existing facilities there, with the exception of the ticket office building that was renovated in 2010, and the newer Artist Falls Lodge.  Also, the classic Meister Hut will remain as it has been for decades—part of the resort’s goal to embrace its history while taking on major change.

This was in the minds of the Fairbank Group when they purchased the resort 10 years ago: “We could see that it was a little engine that could,” said Brian Fairbank. “It just needed a hug.”

A hug it got, with an immediate $10 million infusion into the mountain that improved its snowmaking, updated lifts, and added a wide variety of summer attractions that have amped up the resort’s annual visits.

Now, launching this project, the team hopes to make Cranmore—and North Conway—the world-class destination the original founders envisioned back in the 1930s.

Of course, it all will come down to real estate. The team, who all worked in tandem to make Jiminy Peak a success a quarter century ago, note that while that project took a full 25 years to come to fruition, this one should take half the time or less, thanks to lessons learned from Jiminy Peak.

In fact, permitting and financing are already in place. Now, partnering with local Badger Realty, they are launching sales of the first 18-unit building and hope, with enough commitment, to break ground in the spring.

Most of those purchases, they believe, will come from the metropolitan Boston area, since 60 percent of Cranmore’s visitors hail from that market. Cranmore president Ben Wilcox, who grew up in the area, also sees potential from current property owners in the North Conway region, since the slopeside access will offer something new to Cranmore skiers—right now, the only ski-in ski out property in the valley is the Grand Summit at Attitash.

The cost of the new units will range from the $300,000s to $500,000s and have two to three bedrooms.

Wilcox said the community at large is supportive of the project, citing its infusion of jobs and draw of more visitors to all businesses in the area.

It will also give locals a more comfortable ski experience. “This will double the day lodge space,” he said.