Development options detailed for sand pit

SARANAC LAKE – A 40,000 square-foot commercial building. Townhouse-style apartments. Multi-story, mixed-use buildings with commercial space, apartments and a parking garage.

Those are some of the development possibilities a consulting firm has come up with for the village’s sand pit located off of Will Rogers Drive, once all the sand has been extracted from the 10-acre property.

Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans presented the options drafted by the LA Group at Monday night’s village board meeting.

“There are four preliminary options,” Evans said. “At this stage, the idea is just to get some ideas on paper, banter and talk about them, and give the LA Group some feedback, so eventually we can come to a preferred final plan.”

The first option features a pair of three-story buildings, each of which would have 9,000 to 10,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor. The two buildings would also have a combined 34 apartments on their second and third floors. This option also includes 16 townhouse-style apartments, with garages, in four buildings and 106 parking spaces.

Option two is described as a single, 40,000-square-foot “big box” commercial building. That’s roughly the size of the former Ames department store on Lake Flower Avenue and the existing Hannaford supermarket in Lake Placid. There are 160 parking spaces in this design.

The third option features 80,000 square feet of commercial and office space in three buildings: one two-story structure and two three-story buildings. The larger buildings would have a combined 72 apartments on their second and third floors. This option also features a two-level parking garage with 300 spaces.

The fourth design includes a pair of three-story buildings, each of which would have 6,000 square feet of commercial space on their first floors and four apartments each on their second and third floors. There would also be three separate two-story apartment buildings, each containing eight units. The parking area in this option would accommodate 112 vehicles.

In each of the options, access to the former sand pit would continue to be off of Will Rogers Drive and there is a proposed trail at the back of the property.

During Monday’s discussion, Mayor Clyde Rabideau asked Evans why the village would create such detailed designs when a developer would likely come in with their own layout.

“I think when we discussed this last year, the consensus was that since the village owns it, we wouldn’t want to give cart blanche to a developer,” Evans said.

“Understood,” Rabideau responded. “But if we say, just as an example. ‘We’re looking for mixed use. Give us a plan.’ They’re not going to take this thing. I mean, did we pay for this already?”

“Partially,” Evans said, noting the contract with the LA Group is not complete yet. In June of last year, the board agreed to pay the company $2,500 for the design work.

“Understanding that a developer will have his own plan, the planning board will have their own thoughts on any approval, it would be valuable for the village manger and myself to have direction from the village board on what kind of end uses you’d like to see that we can share with them,” Evans said.

“Alright, so if we picked out a plan and said, ‘This is the general concept?'” Rabideau said. “OK. I can buy that.”

The board agreed to discuss and possibly select a favored option at a work session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. May 28, prior to the board’s regular meeting that evening at 5:30 p.m.

Walmart had sought the sand pit property in 2006 as part of a plan to build a 121,000-square-foot supercenter in the village. But the company dropped its plans after a 3-2 majority of the village board halted the process of rezoning the property for commercial use.

The Hannaford supermarket chain was also interested in the site in 2009 before opting to open a store in Lake Placid’s Cold Brook Plaza.

Evans told the Enterprise after Monday’s meeting that he hasn’t had any serious interest in the property lately.

“We get inquiries from time to time,” he said. “I get one maybe every six months to a year. I think part of the problem is it’s still being used as a village sand pit, and you’ve got that berm (behind the Aldi building) and there’s some access issues. We’ve made a lot of progress on extracting sand over the last couple of years, so it’s time to be thinking, ‘There is going to be a day when there is no sand there. What do we do with that piece of property?'”