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Saranac Lake awaits sale of waterfront property for new 90-room hotel


SARANAC LAKE — Plans for a 90-room waterfront hotel are underway, although the sale of three properties needed for the project has not yet closed.

The upscale hotel, costing $15 million to $18 million, will be built on the property of three independently owned motels on Lake Flower Avenue and will feature a stand-alone restaurant, outdoor pool, spa and access to the lake.

The buyer, Chris A. LaBarge, a real estate broker and developer from Malone, said he intends to enhance the property by taking down the three motels, adding a net 40 rooms, providing a higher standard in accommodations and offering a waterfront restaurant for the public.

“Any time that you develop inside the Adirondack Park you have to consider that there’s desirable areas of development,” he said. “The only region we could find that was large enough to accommodate the proposed project that we have happened to be already consistent with the future use of the land.”

Although contracts have been established, the deal is not yet sealed, Mr. LaBarge said. The properties are the Lake Flower Inn, 234 Lake Flower Ave.; the Adirondack Motel, 248 Lake Flower Ave., and the Lake Side Motel, 256 Lake Flower Ave.

“In any project of this size, it’s not uncommon for a developer to enter into a purchase-and-sale agreement which provides a period of time to be able to seek the appropriate approvals that you need to see if it’s going to be a viable project,” Mr. LaBarge said.

He said a key component in closing on the properties by the first quarter of next year is whether he secures state funding. Mr. LaBarge applied for $2.2 million in state funding from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“The project, as it stands today, without state funding would not be a viable project just because of the sheer cost of meeting the objectives of community plans,” he said.

Mr. LaBarge said the Lake Flower lodging project helps meet multiple objectives in the area, including the village’s Master Destination Plan, which addresses the need for increased tourism and lodging infrastructure, and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, which talks about the commercial, public and private use of the water and accessibility.

“So we’re looking at plans that have been approved and adopted by the local residents as well as the state of New York that we’re appealing to with our particular project,” he said.

Mr. LaBarge said he applied for a reasonable amount of funding for the costs he’s faced with, instead of seeking the largest amount possible.

He said that although he won’t know if he has secured the state funding until early December, he is moving forward with site plans and architectural renderings and gaining multiple approvals and permits from state departments.

Mayor Clyde M. Rabideau said the project will not only boost the economy but also bring more tourism to the area.

“The market segment that Mr. LaBarge is catering to will be those interested in being on the water, having access to the 30-mile Saranac chain of lakes,” he said. “This stand-alone restaurant will also attract hundreds, if not thousands, of campers.”

Mr. Rabideau said the project will see a significant net gain of jobs as well as the number of quality rooms in the Saranac Lake area.

“To have 90 quality rooms right on the lake in the village of Saranac Lake is a mayor’s dream,” he said. “They’ll be sinking $15 to $18 million into this hotel project and our community has not seen an investment of this magnitude for generations.”

The owners of two of the motels also said the hotel project will boost the area’s economy and have a positive impact on the community.

Kim Walasky, owner of the Lake Flower Inn, said that not only are the motels in need of repairs, but this new project will open up the lake area.

“It’s going to help the community,” she said. “People want a lot more than we can offer.”

Susan J. Mueller has owned the Adirondack Motel for 10 years. She said she wasn’t planning to sell it.

“While we wanted to retire eventually, we thought we would run it for a few more years at least,” she said. “We thought maybe, since this sounded like such a positive proposition, we’d go for it.”

Ms. Mueller said that as she waits for Mr. LaBarge to close the sale, “it’s business as usual.”

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