Champlain National Bank breaks ground in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – Champlain National Bank began work this weekend on its new branch at 2040 Saranac Ave.

The lot was bulldozed to clear piles of brush and trees. Within a week after the ground is clear, workers will start digging electrical lines and leveling out the parking lot and then begin laying the foundation.

The proposed 2,520-square-foot building is between Burnham Financial and Super Shoes. The company has owned the property since 2003 and previously held off on building a branch in 2004. Their existing, leased office is located down the street in the Crestview Plaza.

Champlain National Bank, headquartered in Willsboro, has been doing business for 105 years. The family-owned company has nine branch offices in Essex and Clinton counties.

“We’re looking forward to doing more business up there,” Joseph P. Shaw, president and CEO, said of Lake Placid. “It’s a growing community, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Shaw, board Chairman Peter Paine Jr. and other bank officials were at the site for a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon. North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi was also in attendance.

Shaw said he wants to expand the bank’s presence in the area to demonstrate a commitment to his clients and the region.

“We’ve been, of course, in Lake Placid for a number of years, and we’ve decided to take that next step and have our own bank there and not a leased property,” Shaw said. “We want to expand upon the Lake Placid business as well as the whole Tri-Lakes area. This is really going to be the launching pad for that.”

Shaw said they plan to get business from the Tri-Lakes area by having more people use their bank electronically.

“If someone uses a bank in Saranac Lake or Tupper Lake for their currency needs, they can still move their money electronically and bank with us.” Shaw said. “More and more people, whether businesses or individuals, we find they may never step foot in a branch again.”

Chuck Hughes, a senior vice president with the company, said it did not build in 2004 due to uncertainty with the economy.

“We weren’t sure how much business we would get,” Hughes said. Since then, he added, the bank has done well in Lake Placid.

As part of their effort to expand, the company recently hired Kevin Brady as its full-time president and regional manager for the Tri-Lakes area. He will be based out of the Lake Placid building once it’s complete.

“He’s really going to be the guy on the scene,” Shaw said, “our face in that area.”

The new bank will have dark brown cedar siding with redwood trim. It will face toward the road and Whiteface Mountain.

“We hired an architect to look at the shape of our lot, and he came up with the idea of tilting it toward Whiteface, which is nice, but it also maximizes space on that property,” he said.

By October the building should be complete, Hughes said. The new branch is scheduled to open in late fall.