Lake Flower hotel design plan unveiled

SARANAC LAKE – Village planning board members like the look and design of a proposed 90-room hotel on Lake Flower, but they say the height of the nearly 60-foot building remains an issue.

Malone developer Chris LaBarge unveiled the first detailed architectural renderings of the $15 million to $18 million upscale hotel at Wednesday night’s planning board meeting. The hotel would replace three existing motels that LaBarge’s Lake Flower Lodging company is under contract to buy: the Lake Flower Inn, the Adirondack Motel and the Lakeside Motel.

LaBarge said the building was designed to be consistent with the architecture of some of the old hotels of the Saranac Lake area and throughout the Adirondacks. The layout he presented included images of four of those old hotels: the AuSable Club in St. Huberts, the original Wawbeek Hotel on Upper Saranac Lake, the Riverside Inn on Lake Flower and the Inn at Silver Bay on Lake George.

LaBarge also said he’s worked to reduce the height of what was initially proposed as a five-story building with false dormers on the top floor.

“We’ve brought the roof down,” he said. “We’ve done a mansard-style roof, which is steep on the edges, and we’ve integrated the dormers into that. Really, what we’ve done is we’ve lowered the roof height from the last concept that I brought to you in August; this has gone down over 9 feet.”

The proposed building is 59 feet, 6 inches tall, LaBarge said.

Some of its other features include a wraparound porch on the first floor, windows that jut out from the structure and a two-story mezzanine in the center of the building that will overlook the lake and serve as a common area for the hotel’s guests. A second-story porch was removed from the design, LaBarge said.

While there are other details yet to be added, including chimneys and a color scheme, LaBarge asked the board if there was anything about it that “appears objectionable.”

“From an architectural perspective, are we closer, or have we met the objectives of what the planning board was looking for?” he asked.

Board member Scott Stoddard said he likes the design and the different architectural elements of the building, but he’s concerned about its height, given the location of the project.

“I appreciate that the roof has been brought down, but still the height is large,” he said. “Part of my issue is the context of where it is. It’s not far off the road. It’s a tall building that stretches a long distance along the edge of the road and the lake.”

“If the lot was bigger,” added board member Patricia Hilling. “The fact that it’s so close to the sidewalk and the street, it feels huge.”

Asked by LaBarge for suggestions, Stoddard said a three-story building would be more appropriate.

“A three-story building economically doesn’t work, period,” LaBarge responded. “We can’t put rooms on the first floor; otherwise we’re not creating an iconic destination resort in Saranac Lake, so the project wouldn’t go. It absolutely has to be a four-story. This is our best attempt.”

LaBarge said he could have further reduced the building’s height by using a flat roof, but he doesn’t think that would fit in architecturally with Saranac Lake.

He said he’s working with the state Adirondack Park Agency on a visual analysis of the proposed hotel. He expects to present that to the planning board at its meeting next month.

Among other details of the project highlighted Wednesday, LaBarge and Terence Fogarty of neighboring Fogarty’s Lake Flower Marina said they’re working on a plan to create a walkway between the two properties that would lead to a proposed lakeside restaurant and bar that would be separate from the hotel. Fogarty said he would “dress up” that part of his property by repositioning his showroom and putting boats for sale on display there. He said the change could attract people to his business as well as to the restaurant.

Meanwhile, LaBarge is also asking the village Board of Trustees to weigh in on his plan to provide offsite parking for the hotel. Lake Flower Lodging is under contract to buy a blue house on River Street, between the North Elba Town House and North Country Community College’s River Street Hall, that would be demolished and turned into a 24-space parking lot. LaBarge also has conceptual approval from the town of North Elba to use the parking lot at the town house as overflow parking. In return he would pave, line and maintain it.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s village board meeting, village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said he expects a resolution to consider accepting the offsite parking will be on the agenda of an upcoming meeting.

The hotel project is being reviewed as a planned unit development district, a process that the village added to its land-use code in 2011 but, until now, had yet to be used. It puts the fate of the project in the hands of the planning board and the village Board of Trustees, which will have the final say. LaBarge said Wednesday that he plans to submit a sketch plan in November and hopes it can be considered in December at a joint meeting of the two boards.

Planning board Chairwoman Leslie Karasin was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or