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Ground broken Tuesday for $50m Cranmore Mountain project

NORTH CONWAY – Cranmore Mountain Resort broke ground Tuesday on a $50 million project that, in a first for the Granite State, will combine slope-side living with amenities and services that are available to residents of the Kearsarge Brook condominiums and the public.

Brian Fairbank, who co-owns Cranmore along with his son, Tyler Fairbank, and Joseph O’Donnell, said Kearsarge Brook is modeled after all-inclusive resorts in Vail and Telluride, Colo., and also on Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Mass., which he has owned and/or managed and operated for almost 50 years.

As a ski-industry executive, Fairbank said he has visited 240 resorts worldwide and has always strived to learn one or more things about their successes and to then incorporate the practices into Jiminy Peak.

All those lessons are being wrapped up into Kearsarge Brook, which will have 106 residential units and six new buildings.

While the first two buildings will be residential, the others will have a mixed use, with a restaurant, cafeteria, locker rooms, rest rooms, changing areas, rental shop, ski retail store, ski instruction registration and a base lodge whose size will be nearly doubled from 25,000 to 45,000 square feet.

Phase I, which is located at the base of South Slope and is expected to be completed in October, 2017, will have 18 two-and three-bedroom residences that will sell for between $395,000 and $599,000. The rest of Kearsarge Brook will be built as the market demands.

Ben Wilcox, who is Cranmore’s president, said the Kearsarge Brook groundbreaking represented “an historic occasion” for the resort and is a further example of the owners’ commitment to it and the North Conway community.

Since buying Cranmore in 2010, Wilcox said the Fairbank Group has invested $10 million at the resort to enhance four of its six lifts; on child programs; and to make Cranmore a year-round attraction.

The Fairbanks and O’Donnell made a commitment, he said, and they’re keeping it.

Tyler Fairbank said that commitments is part of the company’s overall purpose.

“We do this” – he said of Kearsarge Brook – to enhance people’s lives” through a world-class resort experience. He added that a subsidiary company also offers renewable energy products, including wind turbines and solar arrays, with the former helping Jiminy Peak to be “100 percent off the grid” in 2016.

The younger Fairbank said while solar was possible at Kearsarge Brook, he was uncertain whether a wind turbine could be erected there.

After the groundbreaking ceremony, Brian Fairbank said he expected the development’s residents to be there mainly in the summer and winter seasons, which means that there’d be few if any children attending Conway public schools.

He said Cranmore currently pays $100,000 in local property taxes annually, with that amount sure to increase as Kearsarge Brook is built out.

Both the Fairbanks thanked Wilcox for shepherding the project, noting that a condition of their buying Cranmore six years ago was that he stay on as president.

They also thanked the town of Conway, which Tyler Fairbank said has been “unbelievably cooperative to work with.”

U.S Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan sent their good wishes to Cranmore, and both said Kearsarge Brook would bring more people to enjoy the nearby White Mountains while also creating many jobs during its construction.

The construction of Kearsarge Brook, Hassan said in a letter read by an aide, “… will help boost our travel and tourism industry, as well as the local economy, and have a ripple effect across the entire Granite State.”

The Fairbanks stressed that in developing Kearsarge Brook, they worked with local partners, among them Glen Builders, Badger Realty, and HEB Engineers.