LAKE PLACID — By KIM SMITH DEDAM
A decrepit dormitory building on Mirror Lake Drive is being disassembled for scrap recycling, possibly clear the way for a new hotel.
Hidden behind a deliberate screen of tall cedars on the lower banks of the hill where Lake Placid Club's grand hotel once stood, the dormitory is a steel-and-cinder-block rectangle built four stories against a hill in 1968.
This project is up next for redevelopment in a master plan the Lussi family's company, Placid Gold LLC, put in motion in 1999 after purchasing what was left of the bankrupt and defunct Lake Placid Club properties.
But the move to add a 100-room hotel along Mirror Lake Drive requires rezoning.
Standing inside the torn cement edifice, Arthur Lussi looked at the crowded beach outside.
"We felt this project should be next," he said. "We've been cleaning up all of the Lake Placid Club sites, and this is still such an eyesore."
If it weren't for the cedars, the building would stand in complete deference to neatly kept properties nearby.
The original Lake Placid Club purchase in 1996 encompassed 70 buildings on 900 acres total.
The master plan is laid out on a huge map on one wall in the office the family shares at their anchor business, Crowne Plaza Resort.
Lake Placid Club structures are indicated by tiny, open squares on the map — some filled in with black marker.
Lussi stood at the map and inked in another square.
Thus they have tracked a course to revitalize carefully, one building at a time.
At $4.6 million, the purchase encompassed the buildings, the land, 45 holes of golf, six tennis courts, a skeet range, plus the historic seven-story hotel, including the theater, its chapel and Agora Wing, which were demolished in 2002.
The hotel perch remains a vacant overlook, but many of the properties have been restored, removed or otherwise sold into private use.
Lussi counted the filled squares.
"We removed 29 buildings, including the old hotel. Sixteen Lake Placid Club cottages have been completely restored and winterized and are privately owned, with one last one due to be finished in the fall," he said.
Placid Gold has already restored the golf house and rebuilt the boathouse as the Boat House Restaurant on Mirror Lake.
It renovated the former Club Playhouse into three- and two-bedroom apartments for both year-round and seasonal use.
The company added 16 units of workforce housing to the village real-estate mix about two years ago.
"We converted the old Lake Placid Club laundry into six three-bedroom apartments, eight one-bedroom apartments and two two-bedroom apartments," Lussi explained.
It was a decision based on the need for affordable housing here.
Demolition of the old dormitory is nearly complete but for the cement-block shell and window frames.
Placid Gold's master plan is bound some 4 inches thick, backed up with drawers full of engineering design plans, maps and documents.
On Page 1, Placid Gold lays out the plan "to preserve and enhance the quality of the existing historic resort property, increase its property values and corresponding tax revenues, offer employment opportunities and preserve this property."
The master plan is stamped and dated with various layers of approval, showing it was filed with the Adirondack Park Agency on Nov. 18, 1999, and then approved and signed by Lake Placid Planning Board Acting Chairman Francis L. Griffin on July 7, 1999, and by Larry Peryea, chairman of the North Elba Planning Board, on Nov. 16, 1999.
STUCK TO PLAN
The State Department of Health signed off on the master plan on Oct. 21, 1999, as did the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Despite the effort, new zoning codes in the town and village never incorporated Placid Gold's extensive redevelopment program, a step being addressed now through a public-hearing process.
"The dorm is the last commercial building left to clean up," Lussi said of this point in the process.
"Our family has stuck to our plan to clean up the decrepit buildings of the former Lake Placid Club before building a new hotel."
He said now is a good time, given demand created by the new Conference Center at Lake Placid.
"We think now is a good time for us and the community to get 100 new rooms."
Email Kim Smith Dedam at: firstname.lastname@example.org