New hotel planned for Lake Flower shore

SARANAC LAKE – A Malone developer wants to build a five-story, 90-room hotel on the site of three current motels along the shore of Lake Flower.

Plans for the yet-to-be-named hotel, proposed by Chris LaBarge, were outlined at a late morning press conference in the village offices.

The hotel and its 100-space parking lot would be located on a 3.1-acre site currently occupied by the Lake Flower Inn, the Adirondack Motel and the Lake Side Motel. LaBarge is under contract to buy all three, which would be demolished to make room for the new hotel.

As it’s proposed now, the project would need multiple variances – for height, parking and shoreline setbacks. LaBarge’s company, Lake Flower Lodging, submitted a variance application to the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals on July 22. A public hearing has been set for Aug. 8.

The application, which the Enterprise obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, says the hotel would have 90 rooms, a banquet and meeting facility, spa, indoor-outdoor pools and a small, high-end restaurant within the hotel.

“In addition, a detached waterfront restaurant/bar on the water’s edge will appeal to the local residents while providing full restaurant service for guests,” the application reads.

The application says the design of the building would be “consistent with the historical heritage of the village of Saranac Lake and architectural characteristics that defined Saranac Lake in the 19th and 20th century.” The exterior design of the hotel, according to the application, would look like one of the village’s historic hotels – the Riverside Inn, photos of which are included in the variance application. Originally called Blood’s Hotel, the Riverside Inn opened in 1860 and was located in what is now Riverside Park, at the corner of Main and River streets. It’s look is marked by multi-story wrap-around porches. It was demolished in the 1930s.

A height variance is needed for the hotel because the building would be taller than the two-story maximum height permitted in the area’s B2 zoning district, village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans wrote LaBarge in a July 22 letter. The building’s parking lot would stretch in front of the building and around the corner of it, on the Lake Flower Avenue side. The number of parking spaces proposed, 105, is less than the 146 that would be required for the project under the code, and the size of those parking spaces is less than permitted, Evans wrote. The setback for the building along the lake is listed as zero feet in the application; the requirement is 50 feet.

LaBarge’s application says the project would not be economically viable if it had to meet the current regulations in the village land-use code.

“The requested area variance for height is substantial, however, consistent with other building(s) that are or have been within visual site of Lake Flower,” the application reads. “The project will provide accommodations for additional overflow parking offsite of the property, first to support the employees of the project and then guest overflow as needed.”

The application also notes that the size parking spaces proposed are allowed under state code.

As for potential environmental impacts, the application says removing the current motel buildings will reduce the footprint of the impervious areas on the properties and reduce the total square footage of structures currently within the 50-foot setback. The project would also have a “more robust” stormwater mitigation plan than what’s there now.

Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau told the Enterprise that LaBarge approached the village with his development plan.

“I don’t want to oversell it, but it’s huge,” Rabideau said.

LaBarge, an Ellenburg native, developed the Holiday Inn Express in Malone and is in the process of building a hotel in Oswego.

“He’s got a solid track record,” Rabideau said. “He’s smart. He’s bright. He’s down to earth, and he sees promise in Saranac Lake.”

They mayor said he recognizes that the height of the building may be an issue for some people. He said five stories is about the same height as the Masonic building on Broadway, home to Jreck Subs, and about half the height of the village’s two high-rise apartment buildings.

“It can fit in,” Rabideau said.

The mayor also noted that the village of Lake George, just this week, passed a law that allows for buildings of up to six stories on its main street, a change sparked by a proposed major chain hotel project.

LaBarge’s hotel project would also need a variance from the state Adirondack Park Agency’s 40-foot height limit.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or