APA looks at Lake Flower hotel

RAY BROOK – Adirondack Park Agency commissioners were briefed Friday on a Malone developer’s plan to build a 90-room hotel on the site of three existing Saranac Lake motels.

APA Regulatory Programs Director Rick Weber said agency staff had a pre-application meeting recently with developer Chris LaBarge, and they’ve also met with village of Saranac Lake officials to discuss the project. A formal permit application hasn’t been submitted yet, Weber said.

“There’s a lot of coordination going on between both the village and other state agencies that are involved, both the (Department of Environmental Conservation) and the (Department of Transportation) and the agency, to help the applicant understand what the different review considerations may be before actually putting together an application,” he said.

Lake Flower Lodging, a company formed by LaBarge, is under contract to buy three motels on Lake Flower Avenue: the Lake Flower Inn, the Adirondack Motel and the Lake Side Motel. They would be demolished to make room for an upscale, four- to five-story hotel with a 200-person banquet and meeting room, a spa, restaurant, indoor/outdoor pools, docks along the lake and a separate building housing a restaurant and bar that would be open to the public.

“There’s so much excitement in the village on this project,” said APA Executive Director Terry Martino, “and you saw this week also the plans for the Hotel Saranac, so the enthusiasm and the investment that’s at play is just tremendous.”

The Lake Flower project is one of two major hotel developments proposed in the village over the last three weeks. A week ago today, New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies announced plans to buy the Hotel Saranac and “restore the property to its historic grandeur.” The deal between Roedel Companies and the hotel’s current owners, the Arora family, is still being worked out.

Weber told the APA board that LaBarge had initially applied to the village Zoning Board of Appeals for a series of variances, including for the building’s height, but that he’s now seeking a rezoning of the motel properties to a planned unit development district. LaBarge met with the village Planning Board last week.

The APA would have jurisdiction because the hotel would be taller than 40 feet, because it may require variances from the agency’s shoreline setback requirements, and because there could be wetlands involved.

“We’ll be working and have already started working fairly closely with village officials on this project to coordinate what the various issues between state agencies and the village may be, to try to minimize the amount of back-and-forth that may occur with the applicant,” Weber said.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.