Locals have mixed reaction

SARANAC LAKE – Some think it’s great. Some say it’s not much of an improvement. Some haven’t seen enough yet to give an opinion.

Reaction has been mixed so far to the revised design for a proposed 93-room, $16 million hotel on Lake Flower, which is now being called the Lake Flower Spa and Resort. Lake Flower Lodging member Chris LaBarge submitted the new design to the village Friday as part of the formal application for a zoning change he’s requesting.

Caperton Tissot, who has written letters to the Enterprise raising concerns about the project, said she isn’t sold on the new design. She said she reviewed the plans Tuesday in the village community development office.

“I am pleased the developer has made an attempt to respond to criticisms by lowering the height of the main body of the hotel but the building still appears too massive and the design out of character for Saranac Lake,” Tissot said in an email.

Janis Beatty, who lives near the site of the proposed hotel on Seneca Avenue, said her “jaw dropped” when she saw the new renderings.

“My first impression was that the developers accidentally had submitted another plan they’re working on, that for a school. Surely not for the luxury hotel they’ve been talking about,” Beatty wrote in a letter to the Enterprise Tuesday. “Why is it so hard for these developers to come up with a design that fits the Adirondacks and our town?”

Another local resident who’s questioned the project, Alan Brown, said he hasn’t seen enough yet to get a definitive impression of the revised design. The images submitted to the village so far are renderings of the hotel by itself; LaBarge said a visual analysis of the building is being finalized this week.

Brown called the fact that the hotel won’t extend so far down Lake Flower Avenue an improvement, but he said he still has lingering concerns.

“On the whole, my general overriding comment, regardless of how the building is reconfigured, is that it’s trying to put too much into the site,” Brown said. “The site just can’t support that much. That comes out in the question of the parking because it can’t support enough parking, so we have off-site parking across the street through a tricky and dangerous intersection.”

Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau posted the renderings of the hotel to his Facebook page on Monday and Tuesday. Several of those who posted comments below the images described the new design as “generic,” “bland” and not “Adirondacky” enough.

“The architect on this project should go to the (Saranac Lake Free) Library and check out the book on the Great Camps of the Adirondacks for some inspiration,” wrote Alan Roberts. “Also check out the new Hampton Inn in (Lake Placid) to see an example of a new hotel in the Adirondack vernacular visible on the waterfront.”

Others said they like the new design of the proposed hotel and hope the project comes to fruition.

“This will be a beautiful addition to our village for generations to come,” posted Mark Keating. “This is awesome!”

“I think these new plans & layout look great,” added Brian Fitz. “Hopefully these changes appeal to the board and they can start moving forward.”

“I think it looks great and we need something of this size and scope here in town,” posted Carol Bodah. “It gives tourists and families an alternative. I can’t wait to book a spa treatment.”

Rabideau told the Enterprise there “seems to be a great diversity of opinion” about the new design. Asked for his take on it, he said Lake Flower Lodging worked hard to satisfy the concerns of planning board members and solicited a lot of public opinion about the project.

“However, sometimes when you try to satisfy everybody, you lose something,” Rabideau said. “I think we’re getting there. We’re not there yet. My personal opinion is I’d like to see more Adirondack features. However, our planning board has not been enamored with Adirondack features in the last year. They’ve opted more for a New England look. They recently approved a modernistic look on Lake Flower Avenue, so it’s hard to gauge consistency right now and I can appreciate the dilemma the developers are in.”