New and old at Hotel Saranac

SARANAC LAKE – The Roedel Companies want to build a 143-space parking garage, a roof cornice, a stairway to the front terrace and a new back terrace at the Hotel Saranac.

These are among aspects of the New Hampshire-based company’s ongoing, multi-million-dollar restoration and renovation of the Main Street hotel that will require village approval. Fred Roedel III, a partner of Roedel Companies and president of its construction wing, ROK Builders, outlined details of those projects in a pre-application conference with the village Planning Board Tuesday.

Roedel also provided a status update on the hotel’s restoration, which started in March and is expected to wrap up sometime next spring.

Parking garage

The parking garage would be located on the site of the hotel’s existing 45-space parking lot. It would have two levels.

“Main Street is approximately 7 feet higher in elevation than the back corner by Academy Street,” Roedel said. “In general, the idea is we’re going to excavate the lower parking level to the Academy Street level, so off of Main Street you’ll have this deck. In theory, when you’re standing on the sidewalk on Main Street and looking into the parking lot, you’ll think you’re just looking at a parking lot.”

The upper level of the parking garage would be accessible off of Main Street. The lower level would be accessed via Academy Street. Roedel said the garage would be about 12 feet in height from the lower parking lot to the top of the wall, with 8 feet of clearance inside the lower level.

“The idea is to keep it very minimal and very low level in terms of height,” Roedel said. “All we’re looking to do is make sure we have sufficient parking for the operation and it meets all town ordinances.”

The parking garage would be 8 feet inside the property line to allow for creation of a buffer of trees or shrubs to screen the structure. Roedel said he recently met with adjacent property owners to discuss the plan.

Planning board members asked a handful of questions, including whether people who aren’t hotel guests would be able to use the garage. Roedel didn’t say no.

“The only thing I can envision right now is if we begin to have busy nights and busy periods, we might have to monitor to ensure that people taking advantage of something in the hotel are able to park there,” Roedel said.

Terrace projects

Another project that would require planning board approval is Roedel’s plan to add a stairway that would provide outside access to the hotel’s second-story front terrace. It would be located at the northeast end of the terrace where a fire escape for the building used to be located.

“Despite having a great-looking terrace you can see from Main Street and all the fun activities going on up there, if people can’t figure out how to get there, they don’t go,” Roedel said. “So we’re going to develop a stairway that comes off the end. It will come down to Main Street and will be built so it mimics the limestone (on the building’s facade).”

A new outdoor terrace is planned on the back of the hotel, on the site of a yellow building near the hotel’s smokestack. The design presented Tuesday features a staircase leading town from the parking garage’s upper level to a patio filled with tables and chairs, surrounding the smokestack which would be ornamental rather than functional.

Roof parapet

A parapet wall around the hotel’s open roof and a cornice, sticking out from the parapet, would be added to the building. Roedel said both were part of the original design of the hotel when it was built between 1924 and 1927.

“What happened was they didn’t have enough money, and the parapet and the cornice disappeared,” he said. “We’re looking to finish the building architecturally. Today if you look at it, it’s a big brick block – a nice brick block, but what we’ve got to do is something to make it look nicer.”

Roedel said the profile of the cornice he plans to use matches that of the Harrietstown Town Hall, which was built in 1928 and designed by the same local architects who designed the hotel, William Scopes and Maurice Feustmann.

Dorm plans

Roedel Companies recently announced that it’s buying Paul Smith’s College’s former dormitory on Church Street, located across the parking lot from the hotel. The company plans to convert the building to 20 guest rooms that will be larger than the rooms in the hotel. The planning board has jurisdiction over the project because it would be a change in use.

“Paul Smith’s has some final items they’re working through,” Roedel said. “We’re just waiting for a closing date from them.”

The biggest challenge with the dorm, Roedel said, will be trying to find a way to link it to the hotel.

“Our guests can’t feel like they’re staying in a hotel room across the parking lot,” he said. “We’ve got to work on that.”

Restoration

Roedel outlined the progress of the hotel’s restoration. He said interior demolition work has been completed. Crews are now working on asbestos abatement in the basement and restoration of the masonry and limestone on the building’s facade.

“We’re about 85 percent on our plan,” Roedel said. “As the plan for the inside of the building gets wrapped up, we expect a lot more heavy work to begin happening on the inside as we get into late September, early October.”

Roedel said he plans to submit a formal application to the village next week. The project is expected to come before the board again at its Sept. 2 meeting.