SARANAC LAKE – Lake Flower Lodging has revised the design of its proposed high-end waterfront hotel, lowering its height by roughly 12 feet and reorienting the building on the site.
The company has also given the hotel a name.
“The Lake Flower Spa and Resort is the official name we’re proceeding forward with,” developer Chris LaBarge of Malone told the Enterprise Tuesday.
The revised design was included in a formal application LaBarge submitted to the village Friday for a zoning change his company is requesting. It wants the village to rezone the site of the three Lake Flower Avenue motels where the hotel would be built – the Adirondack Motel, the Lake Flower Inn and the Lake Side Motel – to a planned unit development district. The village Board of Trustees preliminarily approved the zoning change in December.
Height, layout changes
The company’s previous plan called for a four-story, 59-and-a-half-foot-tall, rectangular-shaped hotel that stretched 300 feet across the motel properties, parallel to Lake Flower Avenue.
The height and orientation of the proposed hotel prompted concerns from members of the village planning board and some local residents. Some said it was too big and would block people’s view of the lake; others called the rectangular design “monolithic.” One newspaper letter writer compared it to the wall of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.
LaBarge said the new plan responds to those concerns.
“We took into serious consideration the whole look and feel and mass of the building,” he told the Enterprise Tuesday. “The architect really looked closely at the land-use code, and I think we’ve got a fantastic project that goes right at meeting the requests of the public and the comments we received back from the municipality.”
Under the new design, the hotel has an L-shape instead of a rectangular shape, reducing some of its frontage on Lake Flower Avenue.
“When you’re coming off Winona (Avenue), you’re going to be looking at, in the future, the exact same landscape you look at today when you look between the two (motel) buildings and the parking lot of the Lake Flower Inn,” LaBarge said.
The height of the main portion of the building has been reduced to 47 feet, except for a turret that would be 63 feet, 6 inches tall. The architecture of the building has also been broken up, with several covered porches and bumped-out sections. Most of the hotel would still be four stories, although a section that runs along Lake Flower Avenue would be three stories.
“We still require four stories from an economic perspective,” LaBarge said. “To be able to accomplish the project, there’s a certain number of rooms we need to have. But we changed the roofline to get an architectural design that simulates the Victorian style with the turrets, porches and bump-outs that we put both in the front and the rear of the building.”
Despite the height reduction, the room count of the now-92,700-square-foot proposed building has increased from 90 to 93. It still would have a 200-person conference and meeting facility, an indoor-outdoor spa and two restaurants: one for hotel guests only and another next to the hotel that would be open to the public.
The main entrance and drive-through portico for the hotel, which had been in the center of the rectangular-shaped design, is now on the south corner of the new design’s L shape, facing Fogarty’s Lake Flower Marina. Fifteen-foot-tall trees and shrubs will be placed along the road to screen the vehicles parked in front of the hotel, LaBarge said.
The hotel’s parking plan is largely unchanged. There would be 100 parking spaces on the hotel parcel itself, with 53 more spaces available at two off-site properties: 203 River St., which LaBarge’s Lake Flower Lodging company is under contract to buy, and the neighboring North Elba Town House at 193 River St., currently home to the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. The town has conceptually approved allowing the hotel to lease the building’s parking lot.
During the planning board’s preliminary review, concerns were raised about the off-site parking, specifically about bringing more vehicles and pedestrians into the already congested and confusing intersection of Lake Flower Avenue, River Street and Brandy Brook Avenue. The site plan submitted to the village Friday includes a pair of crosswalks through that intersection. LaBarge said the offsite parking would primarily be first for employees, then serve as overflow parking for guests.
Planning board members had also questioned whether the project provides enough open space, as required under the PUDD law. LaBarge said the plan meets those requirements through a 250-foot sidewalk that runs along the Fogarty’s side of the property to a viewing deck on the lake and several semi-public boat docks.
In mid-December, balloons were floated over the site of the proposed hotel as part of a visual analysis of the project. Photographs of the balloons were taken from multiple locations so the renderings of the building can be added to the photos. LaBarge said the visual analysis will be completed this week and submitted to the village.
It was a year ago next week when LaBarge first announced the project. At the time, he said he hoped to begin construction in spring 2014, if the project received all the necessary approvals. That hasn’t happened yet, but LaBarge said he’s not disappointed.
“I’m pretty happy with where the project is at,” he said. “When you start in on a project this size, in the Adirondack Park and on the water, you’re bound to run into some challenges.”
One of the biggest things that’s slowed the project down, LaBarge said, is the need for a revised flood zone study of Lake Flower. He said North Woods Engineering completed that study in May and has submitted it to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We’re just waiting for final word from FEMA, which we expect to receive over the next few weeks, confirming the accuracy of the data we did provide, which was a significant part of the project and a delay we did not anticipate,” LaBarge said. “We’re hoping to get a completed application to the (state Adirondack Park Agency) by the end of August.”
If the project gets an APA permit and the necessary approvals from the village in the next few months, it’s possible some site work on the hotel could begin before the end of the year, LaBarge said.
The village has posted a link to the hotel’s PUDD application on its website, www.saranaclakeny.gov.