KIM SMITH DEDAM
SARANAC LAKE — A major hotel project was announced Wednesday for addition to the Lake Flower waterfront.
Proposed by hotel developer Chris LaBarge of Malone and his company, Lake Flower Lodging LLC, the inn would encompass four waterfront lots at the major three-way intersection where Lake Flower Avenue turns west.
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It would occupy the eastern edge of Pontiac Bay.
Earlier this week, LaBarge applied for variances to build on the properties currently occupied by three motels: Lake Flower Inn, Adirondack Motel and Lakeside Motel.
At a press conference Wednesday, it was announced that he has signed contracts to purchase all three properties. The locally owned motels would be demolished to make room for the inn.
Several variances are required, among them approvals for height, parking-lot size and shoreline construction.
The project design needs to gain approvals from the Village of Saranac Lake Zoning Board, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency and the State Department of Transportation.
The proposed hotel comes under APA jurisdiction because its height is set at more than 40 feet.
At a press conference Wednesday, it was announced that LaBarge has signed contracts to purchase all three properties.
And all three locally owned motels would be demolished to make room for the inn.
In announcing the development plan, Mayor Clyde Rabideau said the project looks to add a five-story hotel built in the style of the former Riverside Inn of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
That inn once stood where Riverside Park is today, at the western end of Lake Flower Avenue. It also was five stories, including its gabled peaks.
The downtown development would add 90 lodging rooms, a banquet and meeting facility with indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and a small, high-end restaurant, according to the mayor.
In addition, the plan looks to build a detached waterfront restaurant overlooking Lake Flower.
The use of the property would remain motel/hotel, Rabideau said in a press release, “with increased capacity for lodging over the three existing motels.
“The project will help the Village of Saranac Lake in meeting goals of the Local Waterfront Revitalization program, the Village of Saranac Lake Comprehensive Plan and the Saranac Lake Destination Master Plan, while maintaining the architectural integrity of Saranac Lake.”
Additionally, he said, it would enhance environmental concerns with a more robust stormwater mitigation plan, “creating more pervious areas both along the lake and within the parking area.”
In an interview, LaBarge said they anticipate the hotel project to cost between $15 million and $18 million.
He hopes to gain permit approvals by the start of 2014.
“If everything was ideal, in the next six months, we would get approvals from the village, the APA, DEC and DOT,” he said. “If that happened, we would close (on the properties) in the first quarter of 2014 and start building in the spring.
“If I had a goal, that’s what it would be.”
He said the site’s engineering considers the high-water marks of Lake Flower in the spring and during rain events.
“We’ll elevate the building to make sure we’re away from the water,” he said.
A Malone Realtor, LaBarge developed the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in Malone, which opened in 2009 and is managed by RGH Hospitality, a subsidiary of Roedel Companies of New Hampshire.
The Saranac Lake development is not being considered for franchise operation but likely would be under contract for third-party management.
“We have a management company that manages our hotels for us. Yes, this would be a similar to the agreement we have for the hotel in Malone.
“At this point, it appears that we are moving in the direction of a non-franchise.”
And that would allow the inn to have a more regional identity, relevant to Saranac Lake and its history, though there is no name on the planning table for it yet.
“That will be part of our marketing study,” LaBarge said.
Nor has square footage been calculated at this point.
Early design sketches show a multi-tiered facility with a layered, gabled front. Design would also attend to the region’s history, LaBarge said.
“We want to maintain the architectural integrity of downtown Saranac Lake and its history going back to the Riverside Inn.”
As far as economic indicators, LaBarge says this area holds strong investment promise, despite the nation’s slow climb from recession.
“I built the Holiday Inn Express in the middle of the recession, and we opened in 2009. There was a strong indication for tourism to support the business plan, and we proceeded.”
LaBarge is scheduled to meet with the Zoning Board at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: email@example.com