Hotel Saranac owners plan parking garage

SARANAC LAKE – The new owners of the Hotel Saranac are working on designs for a possible two-level parking garage on the site of the hotel’s existing parking lot.

Fred Roedel III, of New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies, said this week that he plans to meet with neighboring property owners to discuss the plan over the next few weeks. He’s also been in contact with village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans about the parking garage, as it would require approval of the village planning board.

“We’re going through some various concepts now to get that framed up where we think it will be,” Roedel said. “We absolutely have to proceed on that. It’s important.”

There are 40-50 spaces in the hotel’s existing parking lot, which slopes downhill from Main Street and widens when it gets behind the building, next to Academy Street. Roedel has said that number of parking spaces won’t suffice to accommodate the hotel’s guests.

The current plan, he explained, is to build a parking deck that would be accessible at ground level from Main Street. Parking would also be available below the deck, taking advantage of the downhill slope of the property, via an entrance off of Academy Street.

“There probably wouldn’t be a ramp between the (two levels), but you could come off Main Street and be on the deck, or you could drive around and go in off the Academy Street side. There’d be under-deck parking there. It would be almost invisible to everybody.”

The two-level parking facility would have space for around 180 cars, Roedel said. Although that’s less than the number of spaces the hotel would be required to have under village code, Roedel said he thinks that’s up for interpretation.

“If you read the code to the letter of the law, they say 250, but that’s really not the number because the fact of the matter is that most of the time guests of the hotel are also guests of the other parts of the hotel, like the ballroom and the meeting rooms and the retail,” Roedel said. “There’s not a mutual exclusivity there that you’ve got to account for. Our real focus has been somewhere around 180. To get to 200 would be awesome. I don’t think we can get there, but 160 to 180 would be more than fine.”

The number of parking spaces required for the hotel would likely come up during the planning board’s review of a proposed parking garage.

“I saw Jeremy (Evans) last week when I was in town,” Roedel said. “We’ve got to get the schematic done on the parking so I can get before the (village) and get that going. That’s something we’d want to get through the local approval process so it could be put together this year.”

Evans said he thinks it’s possible to fit a parking structure behind the hotel that won’t be an eyesore for the neighborhood or the community.

“When you talk to (Roedel) about what his idea is, if you were standing on Main Street, you wouldn’t even know it’s a parking garage,” Evans said. “How it would look from Academy Street and the properties on Church Street? I have less of an idea how that could look, but that’s why the planning board needs to take a look at it. We obviously don’t want a big, hulking concrete parking garage in the middle of downtown.”

When the concept of a parking garage for the hotel first came up last summer, Roedel talked about partnering with the village to finance it. Roedel said this week that the village wouldn’t be involved in paying for what he’s currently planning.

“It’s part of our overall budget,” he said.

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