KIM SMITH DEDAM
SARANAC LAKE — With the sale of Hotel Saranac near closing, the owners have closed the guest-room doors.
Sewa Arora has owned the historic downtown hotel for some seven years and is selling it to Roedel Companies, a hotel investment and construction company based in Wilton, N.H.
He said Friday that they have formally closed the hotel and are no longer taking reservations.
“We decided a couple days back,” the hotel owner said, relaying that the property’s sale should be final in the next couple of weeks.
Arora is confident the new operators with Roedel are right for the hotel.
“The buyer is a professional operator. They have been in the business of constructing hotels and operating hotels for the last 50 years. They are very, very professional. They plan to spend a large sum of money, $10 million to $12 million, to renovate the place.”
The interior room furnishings are not part of the sale, Arora said.
“We have 86 rooms with 120 beds and all furnishings: blankets, box spring mattresses, desks, chairs, 100 air conditioners, coffeemakers, hairdryers — everything in the hotel is ours. So we decided, instead of selling it, it would be a good gesture to donate all of the contents.”
The bulk items in large amounts will go to a nonprofit in Albany.
“The Catholic Charity of the Diocese of Albany is willing and able to take a large amount of donations,” Arora said.
But the hotel bedding will be used here by the Saranac Lake Ecumenical Council, which aims to establish a homeless shelter in Saranac Lake.
Made up of some 10 churches in the region, the council works to interconnect church support and outreach efforts.
WILL WASH AND FOLD
Ecumenical Council President Rich Loeber said the donation is welcome and helpful.
“We’re working to try to establish a homeless shelter in Saranac Lake. The nearest shelter is in Malone, and Essex County doesn’t have one either.
“So, we’re taking all of the sheets and blankets and bedcovers and pillowcases — all of that kind of stuff, which we would need anyway.
“I went and took a look the other day, and all of it seems to be in very good condition. We’re going to remove it from the hotel, and the Young Life Camp on Upper Saranac Lake has volunteered their laundry facility.
“We’re going to wash and fold everything, then we’re going to place it in protective wrappings and store it in the Baldwin House at St. Luke’s.”
SHELTER SEARCH ON
Loeber said Arora had reached out to one of the local ministers who sits on the Ecumenical Council Board.
“We are just very appreciative,” Loeber said. “It came together within a few hours.”
The homeless-shelter search process is underway, looking to buy a house for eight to 10 beds, Loeber said.
“It will open as soon as we can raise the funds for building acquisition. I would say we’re at least a year away from opening operations.”
The donation of bed linens will help save costs down the road.
For his part, Arora said he plans to stay in the Saranac Lake area after the Hotel Saranac is sold.
“Yes, I will be staying, though first I will be going to visit my home in Long Island. Then I will be buying a home here. I like the area very well. The fresh air, the mountains.”
Planned redevelopment of the historic Hotel Saranac is before the Village Planning Board.
The redevelopment project was among 16 named as priorities by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, placing renovations in line for state-level funding.
Roedel Companies has applied for $5 million in public investment monies to bolster its projected $7.7 million in private capital.
According to the Economic Development Council’s progress report, released earlier this month, the hotel project will renovate 75 guest rooms and the banquet and meeting rooms and add a 250-car parking structure. The renovation will create 65 construction jobs and 45 new full-time jobs, it says.
Roedel partner and ROK Builders President Fred B. Roedel III was not available Friday for comment on the pending sale and ongoing project review process.
But Arora expressed confidence in what’s ahead for the Hotel Saranac.
“This hotel has a great future. We ran it for seven years. And the new owners are the professionals. They’ll do a good job.”
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