October 15, 2012

APA approves new Lake Placid building

Lake Placid building, expansion approved


---- — RAY BROOK — Adirondack Park Agency commissioners approved a new building with an expansion on Main St. in Lake Placid.

The original structure, built on Mirror Lake in 1920, was torn down this past summer.

The space sits vacant now at the end of the long row of Main Street shops on the waterfront, facing the the road where Saranac Avenue, Mirror Lake Drive and Main Street converge.

The new three-story building at One Main Street will gain more floor space for Players bar and restaurant, with a new restaurant on the top floor.

Both eateries will open onto decks overlooking Mirror Lake.

The property is owned by Rob Gessner and John T. Nelson, doing business as One Main on the Lake LLC.


The project had already gained approval from the Planning Board of the village and Town of North Elba and from their Zoning Board of Appeals this summer.

But APA variances were needed because the building reaches just above 40 feet as measured in the Park Agency system, which is different than village guidelines.

And construction is just inside the 50-foot setback required for the mean high-water mark on Mirror Lake.

The 3-foot northern extension also looked to close a gap between where the old building stood and an aging retaining wall in the village park.

APA approved all three variances Oct. 11.


APA staff planner Colleen Parker presented the project to APA commissioners.

She said the Village Code Office had ordered the old structure be torn down.

In a separate interview, Lake Placid Code Officer Jim Morganson explained that, as the owners looked to remodel, structural issues and rotting wood became evident.

“It had had so many cosmetic improvements over the years that renovation actually threatened the structural integrity,” Morganson said.

APA commissioners considered the replacement project, which had draft approval from APA staff.

“The site itself is very small,” Parker said during review.

“The former building occupied most of the 0.1-acre (lot).”


The One Main St. structure had held a restaurant and bar on the basement level with a big window facing the lake, a store on the Main Street level and two apartments up above.

“The new building is three stories,” Parker said. “It is intended to have three floors of restaurant space — two floors leased by one restaurant, the top floor by another.”

Parker said that neighboring property owners had expressed some concerns in public hearings.

High Peaks Resort questioned how a slightly taller building would impact its view of Mirror Lake.

But the architects lowered the structure by 4 inches in response.

Parker said the ventilation, heating and cooling equipment will be under the third-floor peak of the new building, and the owners could not reduce the height further.

APA view-shed simulation showed how the new building juts slightly into the mountain-green backdrop but does not alter the resorts’ lake view from street level.

Rooms at High Peaks Resort sit primarily on a hill above Main Street.


A Main Street neighbor to the south had expressed concern over its side view of the public park, Parker said, providing a photographic study of the impact.

APA found the new construction — with two new back porches — does not at all impact the neighbor’s panoramic view of Mirror Lake or significantly alter the northern view of the park seen by leaning out a window.

Parker said a previous owner of the building had built porches in the late 1970s and early ‘80s without an APA permit.

But in 30 years, no one complained until last year when this project was proposed. 

APA reviewed the alleged violation and instituted a variance requirement for any new construction.


The APA Regulatory Affairs Committee approved the permit without dissent, sending the project to the full board Oct. 12.

Commissioner Dick Booth opted to add an amendment in the permit “that we approve this, in part, recognizing this is a heavily-developed area on a hamlet shoreline.”

“It is being rebuilt on the footprint of an existing building,” Morganson said after the vote.

“We’re just replicating a structure with modern-day safety features. The real win/win here is that the new building will have modern fire-safety equipment, new wiring, new windows for improved energy efficiency and all new mechanical systems,” he added.

“We’re fortunate we have business owners that are willing to go through this process and still give us great buildings.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: