Just Call Him David
One problem attractive small towns face is their very attractiveness. What draws visitors and new citizens and makes for community pride often interests developers wanting to develop. Not that all development is bad. We all need places to live, shop, recreate and eat. Many new projects start with a plan to build to the scale and character of a town, fit in with zoning regulations and are welcomed by the community.
Then there are the other developments. The big, the bad, the uglywhere profit can trump preservation of small town character.
So it was with Lake Placid, New York, in 2006
Incorporated as a village in 1900, this lovely little Adirondacks community is built around the peaceful beauty of Mirror Lake. Best known as the site for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the town's 2600 or so residents treasure their town's heritage, character and lake views. The Swiss-flavored Main Street is filled with unique, independent shops and eateries. It's a popular place with locals and visitors alike. The town persona was long established and seemingly secure.
But all that was about to change
A hospitality corporation purchased the property where a low-rise, lakeside motel had stood. Their plans were to erect a condo project on the site. Looming over one end of Main Street, the proposed condo development had the potential to overwhelm the 1920's and 1930's intimacy of the vibrant Main Street shopping district.
Enter David, also known as Rob Grant
When Rob Grant and wife, Pat Grant, saw the project blueprints, their hearts sank. Rob said, We were shocked when we got the first glimpse of the blueprints and saw how big it was. The proposed project was a huge and ugly structure that would block the view of Mirror Lake. And, according to Rob, the monster project also violated height, set-back and watershed regulations.
What the developers didn't know, however, was that Lake Placid had its very own David ready to do battle with the corporate Goliath. Rob was well-equipped for the skirmish. With a background in Madison Avenue advertisinghe had fled New York City in the 1980's to live in the special place that is Lake Placidand a web whiz, Rob knew both how to shape public opinion and to rally the troops.
Rob also knew the weapons likely to be employed by a Goliaththe promises of jobs, a boost to Main Street businesses; the large numbers of future visitors who would soon arrive ready to spend their dollars. But Rob also knew the truth behind these promises. He'd seen it happen before in other places.
Large resorts often deliver the opposite of their promisesthe jobs created are mostly minimum wage, new condos are often second homes. Second home owners aren't there year-round to become part of the community fabric and don't support the Main Street businesses throughout the year as the local residents do.
But what was most worrisome to Lake Placid citizens was that the condo development would change the cherished personality of the small Alpine village that drew visitors and tourists in the first place. For Pat and Rob, for the townspeople, the hometown they knew and loved would be forever changed. Lake Placid would lose its small town village character.
So Rob and Pat took action
First they formed a committeeand a planand took action.
The first meetings were held at the Grant home. Then, quickly, a web site, SaveLakePlacid.com was developed and launched. There, on their web site, step by step, action by action, petition by petition, the townspeople waged their battle in the public eye. Each move was tracked.
The townspeople rallied. Corporate promises were viewed with increasing skepticism. Petitions were circulated, signed and presented. Soon, the web site developed a following of citizens and caring people from all over who followed the newest developments in Lake Placid's battle to save itself.
Press releases helped to capture the media's attention. Print advertising alerted the townspeople. The news was reported on the web site. The town's plight proved a perfect media story. A classic fight was underwaya small town, with a treasured heritage, was being threatened by a behemoth development. Feature stories were written. Support came pouring in from other small towns and caring people.
And the developer listened
After all, no company wants to be viewed as a destroyer of the character of a special small towntheir neighbors. Especially when the battle's being waged in front of the world. Executives from the hospitality corporation came to the town for town meetings that were organized by the townspeople themselves.
Four town meetings, much back and forth, then finally a project plan was drafted that met with townspeople approval. The scaled-back plan better fit the character of Lake Placid. And it met the zoning regulations as well.
David, aka Rob Grant, applauded the corporation's willingness to listen. And a representative from the corporation said, We never had an intention of causing challenges and difficulties for our neighbors and community. If need be, we want to take the time to listen, be responsive and develop our strategy based on plans that will be received with enthusiasm and embraced by the local community.
In the end, the people of Lake Placid and the developer were able to craft a scaled-back development where profit and preservation went hand-in-hand. They ended up with a win-win for everyone.
And just think--the David who faced Goliath in Lake Placid is a real estate broker. It's true, Rob Grant brokers real estate, but he doesn't broker his cherished small town of Lake Placid. He's a true Community Keeper.
Rob's five tips for towns who face Goliaths of their own
Be aware. Have sentries attend town meetings, planning meeting, review minutes that are part of the public record. People need to take a leadership role and alert the town to proposed development.
Establish zoning laws. Setting clear, progressive zoning regulations regarding set-backs, height, density, and requiring an architectural review, help lessen the threat of future out-of-scale over-development.
Move quickly. Prepare an action plan as soon as a threat is identified. Even better, have a plan in place before it's needed. It's better to be pro-active than defensive or re-active.
Go public. Use public relations and Web media technology to keep citizens and the public informed. SaveLakePlacid.com soon had a following of citizens and caring people from all over following the daily developments in Lake Placid's battle to preserve itself.
Prepare and present petitions. Let politicians know what you wantand don't want. Public officials are elected or appointed to serve the people. If the people are unhappy with their service, make opinions and desires known with petitions.
For further information on saving of Lake Placid, to download templates of petitions, and to follow the time-line of how the Battle to Save Lake Placid progressed to its ultimate success, go to SaveLakePlacid.com.
Do you have a Home-grown Hero in your town? Send us particulars and we may be featuring him or her in a future Vibrant Village edition. (use the reply box below)
More information resources:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has much useful information, publications and guidance for preserving small town heritage, establishing Main Street programs and four-point preservation plans.
For a thorough list of resources and publications, check out the USDA's list of Historic Preservation Resources.
© 2008, Patricia Frank.
All rights reserved.
In June, the landmark hotel on the corner of Main Street and Saranac Avenue will be rebranded High Peaks Resort by Lane Hospitality, the Chicago area-based company that owns the 177-room resort.
The Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board recently got its first glimpse of what the hotel may look like after its first uprade since the late 1970s.
David Schlosser of Schopfer Architects in Syracuse said they envision about seven storefronts in front of the hotel complex, which will include retail space and a restaurant with outdoor seating.
He said the idea is for the individual shops to overshadow the five-story concrete hotel, which he admitted is not very attractive.
"We're trying to make the building a little more sympathetic to the village," Schlosser said.
Joint Review Board members expressed minimal concerns at the meeting and resolved that they have enough information to move forward.
"I think it's welcomed by the community to do something with that building," said Chairman Bill Hurley. "Overall, it's a huge improvement."
Hurley set the first in what he said could be several public hearings for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, in the North Elba Town Hall in Lake Placid.
The Adirondack Park Agency has asserted that it does not have jurisdiction over the project, the Joint Review Board was told.
Construction could begin as early as this summer, depending on the speed of the permits, Schlosser said.
Joint Review Board member Horst Weber suggested the developers coordinate their construction with the 31 condominiums planned across the street to minimize impact on traffic and noise.
Meanwhile, at the board's request, the architectural plans have been left in the Town Hall and are available for public review during regular business hours.
LAKE PLACID The Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board approved the Lake Placid Hiltons plan to build a 31-unit condominium complex on Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid Wednesday night.
Board members adopted a resolution provided by Lake Placid Hilton lawyer Tim Smith, with one addition.
I think we should add, said JRB Chairman Bill Hurley, that the board had two on-site tours of the Summit Hotel, and we viewed it from all floors, and from all four sides of each floor.
Nirmal Kumar, owner of the Summit Hotel that sits just behind the Lakeside Motel, said almost 30 of her hotel rooms that face the lake will now have a view of the condominiums rooftop, not the lake. Kumar has said she feels the view impact will cause her to lose millions of dollars in business. The board has been talking to concerned neighbors for months, and have made changes to the project proposal to allay some of their objections to the project.
The board recently received a letter from Lake Placid resident Sean Ayers opposing the project, which was added to the record but not discussed or read aloud.
He had three weeks to get it to us in a timely fashion, said Hurley, and I see no reason to hold this up another two weeks for one letter.
The condominium proposal was greatly revised after neighbors complained about the original five-story proposal on the site of the Hiltons Lakeside annex.
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID An audience of about 50 community members shared their thoughts on the Lake Placid Hiltons plan for a 31-unit condominium complex at a public hearing Wednesday night.
Ranging from questions concerning viewsheds to parking, Bill DeForest of Lane Hospitality, the Hiltons managing company, architect Dave Schlosser and consultant Ed Garrigan answered almost every question posed to them.
Schlosser told the Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board that the project requires no variances and measures just over 39 feet in height, using state Adirondack Park Agency standards. He added that it reaches to just below 30 feet when measured using the Land Use Code requirements, which measures from the midpoint of the roof to the average grade of the ground.
The entire plan for the condominium complex spans 62,000 square feet, and includes a 40-car parking garage and 14 additional spaces throughout the 2.88-acre property.
Pat Grant, an adjoining property owner to the project, said she is concerned with the intended use of the grass roof terrace above the parking garage.
I want to know if there are conditions or stipulations on what can be done on this property, Grant said of the 12,000-square-foot roof.
DeForest said there will be a small patio area on the roof, but that noise levels from guests will be at a minimum.
Youre not going to have a cocktail party where you cant see the lake, JRB member Horst Weber said.
Other Lake Placid residents questioned the viewshed impacts from Saranac Avenue and the Summit Hotel.
think the view is still restricted, Barry Press said.
The proposed complex would extend further toward Saranac Avenue before it intersects with Main Street than the current Lakeview Motel, something Press said he opposes.
I will object to this project as long as the building blocks the view, Press said.
David Balestrini, a dentist who has an office just behind the Hiltons main hotel building on Saranac Avenue, asked how traffic would be directed around the condominium.
Schlosser said there would be access from Swiss and Saranac avenues.
Nirmal Kumar, owner of the Summit Hotel that sits just behind the Lakeside Motel, said almost 30 of her hotel rooms that face the lake will now have a view of the condominiums rooftop, not the lake. Kumar said she feels the view impact will cause her to lose millions of dollars in business.
In light of Kumars request, the board decided to do an on-site visit at the Summit to assess the view impact of the condominium complex.
DeForest said he doesnt know how much the units will be priced at yet, although he did say some could cost more than $1 million. He added that the majority would be well under that price.
The building would be heated with propane fuel, Schlosser said, cutting the current cost of heating the Lakeside Motel with electric heat, drastically.
JRB Chairman Bill Hurley adjourned the public hearing in the interest of time and directed additional comments to be written and sent to the code enforcement office at the North Elba Town Hall.
The Hilton project is scheduled to be back on the JRBs agenda at their next meeting Sept. 19 at the North Elba Town Hall.
Neighboring residents and businesses weighed in on the Hilton Lake Placid Resort's proposed condominium expansion Wednesday night at the first of what will probably be several public hearings held by the North Elba/Lake Placid Joint Review Board.
Lane Hospitality, the Chicago-based owner of the property, has proposed demolishing two sections of the Hilton's Lakeview Motel and replacing it with a three-story, 31-unit condominium complex with a 40-car covered garage. The proposal has been scaled back from an earlier design and is now in compliance with the village's land code, Lane Hospitality CEO Bill DeForrest said at Wednesday evening's public hearing.
It will not only be attractive for the visitors but will also be something the community can be proud of, DeForrest told a standing-room only crowd.
DeForrest said that once the project is approved, it would take 12 to 14 months to complete the expansion. He hopes to break ground next spring.
About a half-dozen speakers at the hearing said they were concerned about the scale of the development and its impact on the neighborhood.
Nirmal Kumar, a partner of the neighboring Lake Placid Summit Hotel, said the Hilton expansion would block the views of her guests. Our property values will be impacted, she said. The impact of our economical situation will be in the millions, not the thousands.
The review board agreed to make a site visit to her hotel next week.
Pat Grant, an adjoining residential landowner on Signal Hill, noted that the new structure will rise a full 12-feet higher than the current Lakeview building and will impact her view. It seems awful big to me, she said. I think it's really a big project for Main Street Lake Placid.
Other residents such as Barry Press and Sean Ayres expressed concern about the new building's encroachment on Saranac Avenue. Currently, the Lakeview is 102 feet from the curb. The new structure will reduce that space to 24 feet requiring the felling of a mature maple tree.
We hope that that maple tree could be preserved, Ayres said. Looking at that maple tree rather than the side of a building would be nice.
Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the Hilton hotel complex was last expanded in 1979 in anticipation of the 1980 Winter Olympics. DeForrest said the current expansion plan is necessary to keep the Hilton competitive.
Chairman Bill Hurley adjourned, but did not close, the public hearing. Written comments are still being accepted on the project and another public hearing will likely be scheduled in the future.
August 16, 2007
public hearing date has been set for the Lake Placid Hilton Resort's proposal
to build a 31 unit condominium complex at the intersection of Saranac Ave and
Mirror Lake Drive.
Posted on: Friday, August 3, 2007
LAKE PLACID The Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board met Wednesday for its regular meeting to review the results of an on-site visit to the Lake Placid Hilton Resorts Lakeview Motel property where the hotels managing company, Lane Hospitality, is proposing to construct a 35-unit condominium complex.
On July 24, balloons, two-by-fours and tape were positioned on the current property to delineate where the new building, if built, would sit. Developers plan to demolish the current Lakeview Hotel.
JRB members toured the site during the balloon test, viewing the property from several areas in the neighborhood and from across Mirror Lake to gauge the scope and visual impact the project would have on those views.
JRB Chairman Bill Hurley said the JRB is waiting to hear from Lane Hospitality on several minor changes architects plan to make to the design before deciding whether or not the project can go forward.
The applicant is considering a change to the back of the buildings parking area, so we are waiting to see if theyre going to move forward with that, Hurley said.
The proposed change would cover a parking area with a grass roof.
So instead of having a parking lot, people would be looking at lawn, Hurley said.
The next JRB meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 in the North Elba Town Hall and Hurley said he expects the Hilton project to be on the agenda.
Lane Hospitalitys CEO Bill Deforrest did not return several phone calls as of press time and not available for comment.
Plans for the 31-unit Hilton Lake Placid Resorts condominium complex are still being tweaked to satisfy local zoning requirements, the lead developer of the project said Wednesday.
Members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review board toured the site last week, but said very little at last nights meeting of their opinions on the overall proposal.
Board Chairman Bill Hurley did note that the design may have to be altered so that none of the habitable space exceeds the 30-foot elevation limit set by the community's code. He said the land use code only allows variances for functional purposes such as antennas.
The visual impact, in my opinion, is nothing. But for our code it's illegal, Hurley said.Bill DeForrest, president of Lane Hospitality, the Chicago-based owner of the hotel, said he'd consult with his architects to make sure the design is legal.
After the meeting, DeForrest said he's confident the designs can be changed to satisfy he planning board. We're trying very hard not to have to go for any variances, he said.
The Hilton project, first proposed last spring as a five-story complex with 49 units has been a lightning rod of controversy especially for residents of the surrounding Signal Hill neighborhood.
But Rob Grant, a founder of a coalition of about 25 neighbors that call themselves Save Lake Placid said he is pleased that the developers have shown some flexibility.
We've been the watchdog of this project and it's really paid off, Grant said. They certainly have scaled down the project.
Plans for the parking lot may also be changed, DeForrest told the joint review board. About 60 lots are envisioned inside a newly built grass-roofed parking structure.
That would be a dramatic change in the existing plans, cautioned Hurley, who noted that the board may have to hold additional public hearings over another building.
DeForrest told reporters after the meeting that if all goes well, he hopes to break ground next spring and have the additional 31 units ready by the summer of 2009.
Once the plans are finalized, the joint review board will begin holding public hearings. The state Adirondack Park Agency has yet to rule whether it has jurisdiction over the project.
Originally built in 1961, the Hilton was last expanded in 1979 in anticipation of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
- Jacob Resneck
Balloon test shows JRB impact of Hilton on viewshed
By REBECCA STEFFAN
Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID Balloons and frames made of two-by-fours and tape at the Hiltons Lakeview Motel on the corner of Mirror Lake Drive and Saranace Avenue Tuesday gave members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board a chance to see just how the viewshed would change if the Hilton builds a 35-unit condominium complex on that site.
The project is still being tweaked by architects, but after a complete redesign of the project after the Hiltons initial proposal for a much larger complex was met with outrage from several members of the community, one Signal Hill resident said hes pleased with Hiltons responsiveness to the communitys wishes.
The architect has done a very good job in trying to minimize the impact of the proposed building by lowering the rooflines and by varying the architecture, Rob Grant said. Theyve been very thoughtful in trying to make this project a lot more aesthetic. In that regard we are certainly much happier with the new plans.
Grant and his wife Pat, whose views from their home would be directly affected by the project, were two of the biggest opponents to the scale of the original design. He added that he is still concerned about the viewsheds from Saranac Avenue but said many organizations can learn from the example set by Lane Hospitality, the managing company of the Lake Placid Hilton Resort.
I think that for a corporation like Lane Hospitality to take the time and really try to listen, and respond the way they have, sets a really good example, Grant said.
Dave Schlosser with Schopfer Architects helped put up several balloons to mark the proposed heights and footprint of the proposed complex.
JRB Chairman Bill Hurley said Wednesday that the board viewed the site from multiple locations, including from across Mirror Lake.
After reviewing the project, the board will add the Hilton to the JRB agenda for the next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 15.
We hope we showed through the computer modeling that what we did was represented accurately by the balloons, Schlosser said.
Members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board took a tour of the site of the Hilton Lake Placid Resorts proposed 35-unit condominium complex on Tuesday evening.
The Hiltons engineers put up several balloons to mark the proposed height and footprint of the structure, to be located on the site of the existing Lakeview Building. They also used two by fours and pink flagging to show how close the end of the building would come to Saranac Avenue.
Members of the board circled the site, trying to gauge the potential visual impacts of the project from Mirror Lake Drive, Saranac Avenue, Swiss Road, Stevens Road and other locations.
Review Board Chairman Bill Hurley said the site visit gave them a much better idea of whats being proposed. Weve seen it on a map, but the corners are marked so now we know how close to each of the roads it is, he said. The applicant provided the height on multiple points of the building so we were able to get an idea of the impact of the viewsheds from neighboring properties and public areas.
Hurley declined to give his opinion on the project and whether the structure negatively impacted any of the views.
But at least one neighbor seemed pleased with the latest design, which had been revised from a larger, five-story building that would have required several variances.
As the board surveyed the view from the front porch of his Signal Hill home, Rob Grant told the Hiltons architect, Dave Schlosser, that he was grateful they had responded to his and other neighbors concerns. I think youve done a good job and I appreciate it, Grant said.
Asked by Schlosser if he was now on-board with the project, Grant said yes.
Schlosser told the review board they had recently made one significant change to the project the addition of a large car-port with a roof garden behind the building. He said the covered parking will be a benefit to the resorts guests. It will also further screen the parked cars from neighbors.
Overall, Schlosser said they feel the design is very positive. He hopes review board members found no significant impacts on the viewshed during their site visit. I hope they basically saw that weve kept the views open and virtually unchanged from almost all directions, Schlosser said. I hope thats what they saw. Its what I saw.
Once the Hiltons application is finalized, Hurley said the review board will schedule a public hearing. The earliest date would be the boards first meeting in September, he said.
The Hilton is also waiting to hear whether the APA is claiming any jurisdiction on the project. We believe we are below all their thresholds, Schlosser said.
June 8th 2007
The Review Board also heard a formal presentation from Lane Hospitality Group about the proposed Lake Placid Hilton Resort condominium project to replace an existing motel structure at the corner of Mirror Lake Drive and Saranac Avenue.
Lane Hospitality President Bill DeForrest recapped efforts of recent months spent working on a plan with neighbors to minimize intrusion on their view sheds.
David Schlosser, partner with Schopfer Architects, described the 35-unit condominium project in detail, saying the project does not require any variance from village zoning code.
There is, however, going to be a density conversation, he said, ascertaining whether the total acreage as measured is enough to accommodate the number of units and "pillows" -- people who stay in them.
The density questions may earn Adirondack Park Agency jurisdiction in the permitting process, Schlosser said.
A group of adjoining landowners have hired attorney Thomas Ulasewicz of Ulasewicz, Melewski and Greenwood in Saratoga Springs to investigate the density matter via legal channels.
According to fact-finding paperwork filed May 30, acreage requirements used to determine the number of units and bedrooms for the project appear illegal.
Planning Board members appreciated the legwork Lane Hospitality and its architects have done in planning to build in the context of a residential area.
"The impact is not as severe as the original design you brought to us," Weber said. "Obviously, the perfect idea would be no building at all, but that's not going to happen."
Hurley suggested architects eliminate all acreage calculations made with measurements to the middle of the street, but the Review Board could not take further action.
"We're still awaiting APA decision whether or not they have jurisdiction," Hurley said.
Despite new design, neighbors still concerned about new Hilton building
By REBECCA STEFFAN, For the Lake Placid News
LAKE PLACID A scaled-down version of the Hilton Lake Placid Resorts condominium plan for the Lakeview Motel met with both repudiation and praise from community members at a special unveiling of new architectural plans Wednesday.
Saturday March 10, 2007
'Revised Hilton Project Presented to Lake Placid Community.'
WPTZ aired an interview with Rob Grant (including comments from Lake Placid's mayor Jamie Rogers) concerning the revised Hilton Redevelopment Project & its impact on the Lake Placid community on 'March 10th' (broadcast 6pm & 11pm).
In the interview, Grant noted that Lane Hospitality has scaled back their plans for the Hilton Condo Hotel - but the impact of this project remains significant for Lake Placid and its residents.
The revised plans still require zoning variances (specifically 15' for parking to be carved out of the 100' residential setback protecting the Signal Hill neighborhood) as well as impacting major viewsheds along the Saranac Avenue corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.
The hotels managing company Lane Hospitality met with swift public backlash in November after initially proposing a five-story, 46-unit condominium complex that opponents claimed would all but destroy the character of the Signal Hill neighborhood, which sits above the Lake View building, and alter the charm of Lake Placids Main Street.
Those concerns prompted Lane Hospitality to withdraw the plans less than a month later, and the groups architects have been at the drawing board since then.
David Schlosser, with Schopfer Architects in Syracuse, presented a scaled back proposal that calls for a clustered and staggered building set-up that is one-to-three stories high and comprises 37 condominium units. The current Lake View building would be demolished as part of the plan, as well.
Were dealing with clusters of building rather than a mass building, Schlosser said. Staggered and stepped units help break the linear quality.
In essence, he said, having a design that varies its features should help reduce impacts on the views from the Signal Hill neighborhood and also allow the hotel to maximize the space and potential for its visitors.
Two units will also have a loft feature to further distinguish the building, he said.
At its highest point, the building would be slightly taller than 39 feet, keeping it within state Adirondack Park Agency height restrictions, while other parts of the building will range from 23 to 33 feet in height.
The view from the home of Rob and Pat Grant, who organized a Web site and circulated petitions opposing the initial project, still stands to be impacted, but Schlosser said 50 percent of the lake views and all of the mountain views from the Grants deck will remain intact.
Other visual simulations provided by Schlosser showed that the view of Mirror Lake coming down Saranac Avenue toward Main Street will also be impacted.
Before moving ahead, other residents from the Signal Hill neighborhood requested similar studies to that provided for the Grant residence, which Schlosser said could be done, and some in attendance also asked for studies showing how the building would impact the view driving north on Main Street.
Many questions, however, centered less around the building and more on the parking plan Schlosser presented.
As it stands now, the plan calls for 60 parking spaces behind the Lake View building that residents felt might adversely impact the Signal Hill homes and also could cause problems in the winter due to snow removal.
The current design of the parking lot will require a variance allowing it to jut 15 feet into the required 100-foot setback from residential properties.
When you use that buffer, youve taken the protection of the land, Pat Grant said. Fifteen feet is big to me.
But Schlosser and Lane Hospitality CEO Bill DeForrest said they feel that by terracing the landscaping behind the parking lot and adding some shrubs, trees and a retaining wall they can completely shield the parking lot from the residential district.
While some suggested looking at building an underground parking lot, both said that would not be cost-effective. They also added that they felt the 60 spaces would be adequate to meet the demand of users for the site.
Schlosser also said the building will be set back from Saranac Avenue and Main Street to allow for the development of more green space and sidewalks. At its closest point, the building will be setback 10 to 15 feet.
In its initial proposal, the project would have needed a number of other variances, including one for height restrictions. While Schlosser said he isnt sure at this stage how many variances would be needed, he did say, From where this projected started, there are many less.
Included in the Hiltons redevelopment plans but not discussed at great length Wednesday are proposals to redesign the storefronts on Main Street that are part of the hotels main building to fit in with the character more, DeForrest said, and there are also plans to renovate the main building and the hotels waterfront property on North Main Street.
I cant emphasize enough that this is a design process, Schlosser said. Were taking baby steps to see if we can balance community needs, our neighbors needs and the buildings needs.
Were trying to reach out to the community, DeForrest added. We want to make sure during the early stages that we gather as much input as we can to help us create something thats much better than what we started out with.
formal timeline has been set for when the project design would be finalized, but
Schlosser said there may be another set of plans to present again within 30 to
60 days following this latest round of public input.
NEW PLAN FOR HILTON CONDO COMPLEX
Three months after withdrawing a proposal for a massive complex of condominiums, officials with the Hilton Lake Placid Resort presented a first draft of their revised plans Wednesday morning.
Bill Deforrest, President and CEO of Lane Hospitality, the Hiltons management company, told an audience of neighboring property owners and other residents that theyve created a better project. We really do appreciate the fact that people are taking their time to give us their input in an effort to do something better than what we first started off with, he said. I think weve made some great progress.
The Hilton had planned a five-story, 46 condominium complex on the site of the existing Lakeview Motel. Height, setback and several other variances would have been needed for the project to move ahead.
But the plans were withdrawn in December after nearby residents raised concerns about the size and scope of the project.
On Wednesday, David Schlosser of Schopfer Architects presented revised designs for a three-story, 37-unit building.
Instead of one solid structure, the new plan is based on a cluster concept, with the units staggered, stepped and, in some cases, pushed out.
Schlosser said they wanted to give every condo owner a view while maintaining their privacy. Youre dealing with clusters of buildings as opposed to a massive building, he said.
At its highest point, the condo complex would be 39 feet, ten inches tall. There would be 60 parking spaces behind the structure.
Asked how many variances would be needed for the new design, Schlosser said he didnt know yet. But from where this project started [there will be] many less, he said.
The reaction of the audience was mixed.
Terry Kent, who lives next door, said the structure seems a lot more reasonable. But he and other neighbors raised concerns about the visual impact of two loft condominiums that would be above the third story.
Pat Grant, another neighbor, was concerned about a plan to have a section of the parking lot encroach 15 feet into a required 100 foot buffer with neighboring properties. Theres a reason why that 100 foot buffer was put into the land use code, she said. Fifteen feet is too big to me.
"I hear what youre saying, Schlosser responded. I think its an issue we will try to address. He also said theyd look into the possible viewshed impacts on other property owners
Deforrest said the existing Lakeview Motel, built in the 1960s, is not going to be competitive in ten years. The new building will be a more contemporary and competitive product, he said.
Schlosser said more detailed plans will likely be submitted to the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board within 30-60 days.
By REBECCA STEFFAN, For the Lake Placid News
LAKE PLACID About 35 community members met Lake Placid Hilton Resort representatives Wednesday morning at the hotel for an informal forum to discuss the scope of and the plans for a condominium complex that would be constructed at the current site of the Lakeview Motel.
After nixing the last plan for a five-story, 46 unit, 37,760 square-foot condominium complex in December, the Hiltons managing company Lane Hospitality hired a new architectural firm and decided to call a meeting with community members to discuss their concerns before the architect begins any new designs.
This is a chance for us to gather input and feedback, Bill Deforrest, Lane Hospitalitys president, said. Were really here to listen. Weve taken a very aggressive approach to try and listen to the customer.
Deforrest said Lane Hospitality wants to redevelop their Lakeview Motel property mainly because they need an upgrade in order to keep up with other Lake Placid lodging properties. Were to the point now where we think the evolution in the community and the age of our existing facility requires us to be more thoughtful about how we prepare for the next 20 years, Deforrest said.
Lane Hospitality also plans to revitalize the main Hilton building and the resorts Lakefront building.
We hope (it) will be an exciting venture for us and the community over the next few years, Deforrest said.
If its not acceptable to the community, its not acceptable to us, Deforrest said of design plans for the redevelopment project.
We want to work with the community to develop a project that is good for community members and for visitors, Deforrest said.
Lake Placid resident Wayne Johnston, who said he was speaking as an individual and not as a representative for any group, said his main concern with the project was how overwhelming initial plans were for the pedestrian walking along Main Street.
The Main Street corridor is a neighborhood too. It is small town urban, he said.
Johnston said that although the buildings along Main Street front the sidewalk, the general height is not overwhelming to pedestrians.
The effect for a pedestrian is that most buildings are one to three stories tall, its not imposing, not overwhelming, and its part of the appeal of our Main Street, Johnston said.
He requested that Lane Hospitality take into consideration the height plans of the new condominium complex and asked that the project adhere to the current zoning restrictions.
The Rev. Michael Jones, the rector of St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid, said his main concern with the project was its impact of the beauty and economy of the village.
Lake Placids chief asset is Gods beauty and that beauty is both an aesthetic pleasure and our chief financial asset mar that beauty and you dont do damage to the eyes only, you do damage to the source of our income, Jones said. I ask that you please build something beautiful that complies with the town code that serves all of us.
Georgia Jones, a village resident, posed several questions to Deforrest and the design team concerning the variances and the projects master plan. Jones asked whether the new design would require all four of the previously requested variances for the initial project and whether or not a master plan had been done on the entire property.
Deforrest said that it was unclear whether or not the redesigned project would require variances as Schlosser and he were waiting to start designs until hearing the communitys input.
Jones also asked Deforrest to consider the possibility of constructing a tunnel under Saranac Avenue for pedestrian traffic near the hotel. Deforrest wrote down Jones questions and said he would look into her requests.
We learned a lot and understand better how we can do this in a more thoughtful manner after taking into consideration residents concerns, Deforrest said.
Lisa Townsend, a Signal Hill resident, said she was concerned about the flavor of the neighborhood, after the original plans for the five-story complex were made public.
Im terrified of my neighborhood getting sucked up in the master plan, its not a commercial strip and the impact to us will be tremendous, she said.
David Schlosser of Schopfer Architects in Syracuse was hired to redesign the Hilton Redevelopment project and has been working with Lane Hospitality for a few weeks on the project, Deforrest said.
Hilton Hotel Representatives met Wednesday morning with the Lake Placid community to discuss the next phase of Hilton Redevelopment Project.
'Round Two' of the ongoing Hilton Redevelopment Project was ushered in at 10AM as a large group of Lake Placid community members gathered at the Hilton Hotel to listen to Hilton representatives discuss the next phase of the Hilton Hotel project.
Over 35 community members turned out to hear what Hilton executives had to say as well as to offer constructive comments and suggestions for the new Hilton design.
DeForrest, CEO of Lane Hospitality (new owner of the Hilton Hotel property), began
the meeting by stating that this represents a new beginning for the Hilton project.
Hospitality has hired a new architectural firm, Schopfer Architects, out of Syracuse,
NY. The lead architect is David Schopfer who has considerable experience with
historic renovations. Schopfer has been given the difficult task of redesigning
the Hilton project so that it fits the existing footprint of the current facility
and conforms with legal zoning codes.
Grant, one of the principal organizers of the meeting was very pleased with the
large public turnout.
part of this process, Grant is making available to the public complete audio CD's
and DVD's of yesterdays meeting on their web site www.SaveLakePlacid.com . SaveLakePlacid.com
will provide a dedicated page and email request form
where the public can request loaner copies of the audio CD and DVD.
"I know there are a lot of people out there who could not make this meeting because of their jobs and other obligations. We filmed the entire event so the public can view the hour long proceedings and stay completely informed. I spoke with Bill DeForrest about this and he agrees. The more information everybody has, the better this whole process will be."
The Hilton design team will now take all public comments gleaned from yesterdays meeting and move forward with preliminary designs that reflect the community concerns expressed by local residents.
As Barry Press, one audience member put it ,"All the right things were said at this meeting. The proof will be in the pudding!"
For contact information:
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID About 35 community members met Lake Placid Hilton Resort representatives Wednesday morning at the hotel for an informal forum to discuss the scope of and the plans for a condominium complex that would be constructed at the current site of the Lakeview Motel.
nixing the last plan for a five-story, 46 unit, 37,760 square-foot condominium
complex in December, the Hiltons managing company Lane Hospitality
hired a new architectural firm and decided to call a meeting with community
members to discuss their concerns before the architect begins any new designs.
The purpose of the meeting is for community members to share their ideas and concerns about the project.
This meeting is supposed to be informational, said Rob Grant, a neighbor to the proposed project thats been critical of the plans.
Grant asked Defforest in December is hed be willing to meet with concerned community members as well as adjoining landowners and discuss the project in a more informal setting rather than at a public hearing.
Grant and his wife Patricia launched to websites and petitions to voice their opposition in December.
The company had planned a five story, 46 condominium structure in the Signal Hill neighborhood. The condo complex would have be placed on the site of the Hiltons Lake View Motel and would have required several variances through the Lake Placid-North Elba Zoning Board of Appeals.
The controversial project was supposed go to a public hearing in December but the company withdrew its application after public outcry.
Grant said todays meeting was an opportunity for the public to offer input. It is our sincere hope that Lane Hospitality and the Hilton will now listen to what people are saying and redesign a project that is scaled down in keeping with the character of Lake Placid, he said.
The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. in the Terrace Conference Room at the Hilton Hotel.
meeting is supposed to be informational - not adversarial" according to Rob
Grant of www.SaveLakePlacid.com ."We asked Mr. DeForrest back in December
if he would like to meet with concerned community members as well as adjoining
property owners to discuss the proposed Hilton project in a more informal setting
than a official public hearing. Mr. DeForrest agreed and indicated he would like
to hear what community members have to say and share his ideas with the community.
Our understanding is that the Hilton design team will then attempt to work with
this new information and incorporate it into an entirely new redesign of the Hilton
C/O Rob Grant
A meeting on the Hilton redevelopment Project is scheduled for February 7th 2007 at 10 am.
This meeting will take place in the Hilton conference room in Lake Placid. All concerned citizens are encouraged to attend. This meeting will be with Bill DeForrest, CEO, Lane Hospitality. Lane Hospitality is seeking input from Lake Placid residents for a revised design as they move forward with the Hilton project.
December 21, 2006
HILTON REP MEETS WITH EXPANSION PROJECT OPPONENTS
Less than two weeks after the Hilton withdrew its plans for a controversial condominium complex on Mirror Lake Drive in Lake Placid, company officials have met with the projects chief opponents.
Bill DeForrest, CEO of Lane Hospitality, and John Dodson, General Manger of the Hilton Hotel, met with Rob and Pat Grant on Tuesday at their Signal Hill home.
Grant, in a news release, called it a productive meeting. I give Bill DeForrest a lot of credit for taking the time to meet with us at our home and to spend several hours discussing this project, he said.
The Hilton had planned a 46-unit, five-story complex of condos on the site of the existing Lake View Motel. The company applied for several variances through the Lake Placid-North Elba Zoning Board of Appeals, but withdrew the application after an intense public outcry. A public hearing that had been scheduled for this past Monday was canceled.
DeForrest told WNBZ earlier this month that they decided to reconsider and reevaluate the proposal. He said it would give them time to reach out to the community. Im going to come in and try to find opportunities to meet with those who raised concerns and understand what they are, and talk about strategies as to how we can respond to those, he said.
Neighbors, like the Grants, had raised concerns about the size and scope of the project.
After meeting with Hilton officials this week, Grant said the company seems sincere about their desire to create a project that the community will find acceptable.
Grant says DeForrest admitted to them that the Hilton is outdated and market research indicates todays tourist and condo buyer wants something larger and more luxurious.
We told Bill DeForrest that he has a unique opportunity to be a hero in the Lake Placid community if he is willing to listen to what people are telling him and design a project that is scaled-down and keeping with the character of Lake Placid, Grant said.
DeForrest has reportedly agreed to meet in January with members of the neighborhood and community. The Grants say theyve been asked to be a part of the design process as the project moves forward.
Hilton Update - Meeting with Bill
DeForrest & John Dodson - Tuesday 19th, 10 AM
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Rebuffed, Hilton tries to balance economics, neighbors
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID The news that Lane Hospitality, which owns the Lake Placid Hilton Resort, had pulled its proposal for a 46-unit condominium complex surprised many in this community. On Dec. 7, the developers decided to return to the drawing board after a spurt of protests left them feeling uncomfortable with the amount of resistance mounted by village residents.
We dont have any intentions of doing something that is unacceptable to the community, Bill Deforrest, CEO of Lane Hospitality, said Monday afternoon.
The project, to be located at the site of the Hiltons Lake View Motel on Mirror Lake Drive at Saranac Avenue, would have required four variances from the local Zoning Board of Appeals. One of its neighbors concerns was that the height of the five-story building, almost 60 feet if the variance had been granted, would have affected the quality of their views.
Chief among the protesters were Signal Hill residents Rob and Patricia Grant, who launched two Web sites and numerous petitions against the project. The Grants are set to meet with Deforrest today to discuss their concerns about the project.
I want to show him exactly how this project would destroy our view, Rob Grant said.
Deforrest said that it was never Lane Hospitalitys intention to alienate neighbors with its original, 37,760-square-foot condominium complex proposal.
We thought we put together a proposal that would be good for that site, he said. We feel we have an obligation to do something.
By constructing a new building on the existing motel site, Deforrest said the property would be a better investment in their future in Lake Placid.
We will more than double our initial investment, he said.
Now, in the wake of a three-year planning and design process that didnt come to fruition, Deforrest will spend the next couple of weeks gathering neighbors input, meeting with local government officials and bringing in the projects architect, C.T. Male and Associates, to revamp the design and hopefully create a proposal that isnt so offensive to the community.
The only time you can rethink a project is before you start it, Deforrest said.
Im not unrealistic; you cant make everybody happy we want to be good neighbors.
That sentiment is something Rob Grant said gives him hope.
My hope is that hes really going to work with the community, Grant said.
Deforrest, who manages the Lake Placid Hilton, said that though he lives in Chicago, Lane Hospitalitys presence in Lake Placid is not new.
Weve been here eight years and plan on being here 10 to 15 more, Deforrest said.
We want to do something that is less difficult for neighbors and the community.
Deforrest said the decision to pull the proposal was the result of community protests.
It became more of a village-wide issue, he said.
Now is the time to listen to input and still try to deliver something that makes economic sense.
By remodeling the Hilton properties, Deforrest said, his company would help keep them on the market as viable and profitable businesses.
We have an obligation to look at the future success of the village, he said.
The Hilton Lake Placid Resort has withdrawn its plans for a 46-unit condominium complex after an intense public outcry over the project.
Ken Jubin, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said he received a phone call from Bill DeForrest, the CEO of Lane Hospitality, the Hiltons management company, telling him they are withdrawing the application. A December 18 public hearing on the project has been cancelled, Jubin said.
Rob Grant, who had organized much of the opposition to the project, says he also got a call from DeForrest. He said I just want to say were sorry for what we put you and your family through, and what we put the community through, Grant explained.
DeForrest issued a press release saying theyve decided to reconsider and reevaluate the proposed redevelopment plan. This will give us the time to reach out to the members of the community who have raised concerns in an effort to create a project that benefits our village for the future, he said.
The Hilton had proposed a five-story condominium complex on the site of their Lake View Motel on Mirror Lake Drive and Saranac Avenue.
Variances were needed because the structure would be twenty feet higher than permitted and built within 100 feet of a residential zoning district. Other setback and parking variances were requested.
But the size and scope of the project sparked concern among neighboring property owners, like Rob Grant who called the withdrawal of the proposal a tremendous victory for the community. Its a very exciting moment for a lot of us, he said. I think it shows what you can do when youre willing to fight and stand up for what you believe. I think they completely underestimated the public outcry.
Grant said they dont plan to let their guard down and will be ready when Hilton develops another proposal for the site.
The neighboring Lake Placid Summit Hotel had also raised concerns about the condo complex. Specifically, they said it would block their guests views of Mirror Lake and be detrimental to their business.
General Manager Brandi Barbee was glad to hear the project had been shelved. I think they maybe misunderstood how a project of that size would impact the entire community, she said.
Lake Placid Mayor Jamie Rogers also said Hilton officials made the right decision. I think they realized this had a negative impact on the community and that if youre going to be a responsible player in the community you need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your plans, he said. I commend them for that.
DeForrest, in his statement, said the company takes pride in the relationships theyve developed in Lake Placid over the years. We enthusiastically look forward to resubmitting a favorable and positive proposal for this site in the future, he said.
In a press statement issued Friday morning, Bill DeForrest, president and CEO of Lane Hospitality, based in Northbrook, Illinois, said: If need be, we want to take the time to listen, be responsive and develop our strategy based on plans that will be received with enthusiasm and embraced by the local community.
Lane Hospitality has decided to reconsider and re-evaluate our initial proposal and has withdrawn its application to the Zoning Board of Appeals, he said in the statement.
This will give us the time to reach out to the members of the community who have raised concerns in an effort to create a project that benefits our village for the future.
DeForrests decision arrived just a day before the Zoning Board had planned a site-test review using six balloons to check the structural heights proposed on the new block of condominiums.
Balloons would also have demonstrated the height allowed by current zoning regulations.
The Hiltons condominium complex, as proposed, required variances from four village codes.
Several groups in the community rallied against the project, which they claimed was too big and out of touch with the character of the alpine village.
Among those most concerned were Pat and Rob Grant, longtime homeowners on Signal Hill. The Hilton project, as originally proposed, would have loomed ahead of their view of the village and Mirror Lake below.
Mrs. Grant was relieved, at least for now.
It sounds good, she said upon hearing DeForrests statement. We won round one. I think what hes saying is nice.
But how high is building too high in Lake Placid?
I think we need to understand the current zoning code first, Mrs. Grant said. (The language) is very difficult to understand, but they need to stay within the prescribed code. And even if they do, I want to know how tall the building would be from the bottom to the top.
If (Mr. DeForrest) has an emotional commitment to the community, hes got to understand the building code.
At the Lake Placid Summit Hotel, just a few yards uphill from the proposed Hilton development, General Manager Brandi Barbee sounded relieved to hear the project was taken off the table.
a happy girl, she said. Weve been good neighbors with the Hilton
for years; we often work on various programs together.
If the Hilton built five stories up, the new restaurant would essentially have gained a view of the hotel wall.
Just when we started to get things together, we found out about (the condominium development) plan. What they had planned was just too big, Barbee said. I dont think they anticipated the communitys reaction.
Mr. Grant called the withdrawal a wonderful display of community support and a wonderful victory for Lake Placid.
Im stunned by how quickly we were able to mount a grass-roots campaign to fight the proposed development.
Mr. Grant said DeForrest called him late Thursday to talk about shelving the project plans as they were.
He said he would like to come to Lake Placid and meet with us us being the community and immediate neighbors. I think he is sincere.
With hundreds of signatures gathered and a Web site keeping public tabs on the development, Mr. Grant was surprised at the overwhelming community response.
We ramped up and were able to bring this thing to a screeching halt. It shows people you can do it if you get organized. If youre willing to get out there and fight, you can stop these things.
Lake Placid Mayor Jamie Rogers said initial discussions to retract the project came in late Thursday.
I think (Lane Hospitality) realized the support of the community would not get behind this project. I think theyve done the right thing.
Zoning Board Chairman Ken Jubin said it was the applicants prerogative to withdraw the application.
I dont think its my position to think anything about it, he said. Well just have to evaluate the application if or when they resubmit one.
In his statement, DeForrest indicated renovation of the Hilton Lake Placid Resort is still in the picture.
We are dedicated to creating projects that benefit the communities in which we are members.
We enthusiastically look forward to resubmitting a favorable and positive proposal for this site in the future.
Kim Smith Dedam at:
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID Some of those concerned with a proposed condominium development downtown have also warned of potential conflicts of interest between the Hilton Lake Placid, which is proposing the development, and adjoining landowners who hold positions with the local government bodies that will decide its fate.
Rob and Patricia Grant live on Signal Hill, and their property adjoins the Lake View Motel property where the proposed 46-unit condominium complex would be constructed.
Grant wrote a letter to Lake Placid/North Elba Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman
Kenneth Jubin Monday expressing his concerns over what he said could be several
conflicts of interest between ZBA members and property owners adjoining the proposed
building site on Signal Hill.
December 7th, 2006
North Country Public Radio airs on-going series about mega-real estate developments:
Interview with Rob Grant about the Save Lake Placid grassroots opposition to the proposed Hilton Redevelopment Project
In the coming months, North Country Public Radio will air an on-going series about mega-real estate developments, their impact on communities, the environment, the economy, and local taxes. Developers are already building new neighborhoods near Watertown to handle the rapid expansion of Fort Drum. Big projects have been proposed for Tupper Lake and Franklin Falls in Franklin County. Also on the drawing board are thousands of homes and condos planned for North Creek and West Mountain in Warren County. Today we begin with a look at a new 46-unit condo project proposed by the Hilton Corporation for downtown Lake Placid.
"The market that this product is intended for is pretty upscale," says Edward Garrigan from Latham, New York, an engineer working on the project. "The architect took a lot of time and effort to make this part of the fabric of the community and not something that doesn't fit the Adirondacks and doesn't fit Lake Placid." But not everyone agrees that the project will match Lake Placid's scale. Rob Grant is a leading real estate agent in Lake Placid and has made his living for nearly two decades selling high-end homes. Now he's leading a campaign to block Hilton's condo project, which would be built in his neighborhood.
click here to listen to entire story or email it to a friend
Members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board issued a series of recommendations to the Joint Zoning Board of Appeals last night on the controversial Hilton condominium project.
The advice came after ZBA Chairman Ken Jubin asked for the review boards advisory opinion on the Hiltons plan for a five-story, 46-unit condo complex on the site of the existing Lake View Motel.
The project needs several variances from the ZBA before it can come to the review board, including height and residential setback variances.
Review Board Chairman Bill Hurley asked his fellow board members to limit their recommendations to the variances.
Hurley suggested the ZBA request information on what the complex would look like if it was built without the variances. They should show what a building built to code would look like, he said.
He also recommended the ZBA get additional pictures of the proposed structure from the lower portion of Saranac Avenue. The amount of greenspace to be lost in front of the structure was also discussed. And board vice-chair Olga Krone said a third-party should review the visual impact studies prepared by the Hiltons consultants.
Krone wanted to get into more specific recommendations, but Hurley said it was too soon. All the information isnt before us yet, he said.
Hurley will be sending a letter to the ZBA outlining their suggestions.
The ZBA has also asked the joint town and village Planning Commission for advisory opinions on the Hilton project. John Hopkinson, a commission member, told the review board theyll be delivering their comments to the ZBA by December 13.
Meanwhile, allegations of conflict of interest surrounding those wholl be reviewing the project were also discussed last night.
Rob and Pat Grant, who live next door to the proposed project site, wrote a letter to Ken Jubin, the ZBA chairman, describing possible conflicts because the Hilton wants to buy adjoining property owned by Bill Hurley Sr.
While he acknowledged that the Hilton has expressed an interest in his parents home, Bill Hurley, the review board chairman, said no offer has been made or contract signed. And the board hasnt received an application. At this point, bringing up recusal is very premature, Hurley said.
Board member Peter Roland also acknowledged that the hotel company has talked with his father about buying his home. But issues of conflict of interest dont have to be decided now, he said.
ZBA and review board attorney Tim Smith, however, notified Jubin in writing that hes recusing himself as ZBA counsel in the Hilton case to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Smiths law partner, Janet Bliss, is the daughter of Bill Hurley Sr.
The ZBA will hold a public hearing on the variances December 18.
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID With an onsite visit scheduled at the Hilton Lake Placid Resorts proposed condominium site for Saturday, both proponents and opposers of the project are looking forward to its public hearing before the Lake Placid/North Elba Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 18.
project, a 46-unit, 37,760-square-foot, five-story condominium complex to be built
on Mirror Lake Drive at Saranac Avenue, would be constructed on the current Hilton-owned
Lake View Motel site.
A group of concerned Lake Placid citizens say theyre launching a grassroots organization to oppose the Hiltons plans for a new five-story, 46-unit condominium project in the Signal Hill neighborhood.
The effort is led by Rob Grant, a resident of Lake Placid and a home owner on Signal Hill. He described it as a David versus Goliath battle. Were being dragged into this dispute, facing off against one of the largest hotel chains in the world, he said. Were going to use the internet to try and level the playing field and generate public awareness in terms of how big the impact of this project is going to be.
The condominium complex, which would be built on the site of the Hiltons Lake View Motel, would need several variances from the joint town and village Zoning Board of Appeals before it could even be presented to the review board.
The variances would allow the condominiums to be within 100 feet of a residential district and almost twenty feet higher then the maximum height allowed.
Grant said they want the websites to be a resource for people to get information to understand the impacts of the project. There is nothing more powerful than informed citizens who come together for a common cause, he said.
Grant also revealed theyve sent a letter to Ken Jubin, chair of the ZBA, outlining concerns of apparent conflict of interest among several people who could be involved in the review process. It may simply be the result of living in a small town where everybody wears many hats, he said. But what were asking is for full disclosure.
The projects review is also being closely watched by the neighboring Lake Placid Summit Hotel. Brandi Barbee, the hotels general manager, said last month the condo complex would block their views of Mirror Lake and be detrimental to their business.
The ZBA public hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 18 at 7 p.m. at the North Elba Town Hall.
SUMMIT HOTEL OPPOSES HILTONS CONDO COMPLEX
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
by- Chris Knight WNBZ AM 1240, FM Y106.3
The Lake Placid Hiltons plan to build a five-story 46-unit condominium complex on the site of their existing Lake View Motel on Mirror Lake Drive is facing opposition from a neighboring hotel property.
Its going to be detrimental to our business, said Brandi Barbee, general manager of the Lake Placid Summit Hotel, formerly the Ramada Inn, which is located directly behind and slightly above the project site.
Barbee says the Hiltons condo complex would eliminate the view of Mirror Lake from their current restaurant, a new restaurant and one entire side of their three-story hotel. It will completely block the views, she said.
A public hearing on the Hilton project is scheduled for December 18 before the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Zoning Board of Appeals.
The condominium complex, which also includes an underground parking area, would need several variances from the ZBA before the project could be presented to the village and town review board.
One of the variances would allow for smaller off-street parking spaces than allowed in the propertys zoning district. Another would permit the building to be closer than 100 feet to a residential district. And the Hilton wants to construct the building 19 feet, 10 inches higher than the 40 feet allowed in the code.
Edward Garrigan of the Latham-based C.T. Male, the Hiltons engineering firm, said the complex needs to be that size because of the upscale market their building for. The starting price for the condos is $500,000. You need to have a certain amount of square footage to offer that product, he said. We need to have so many rooms at certain square feet in order to have a project to send out to potential buyers.
And there are costs associated with moving a sewer line underneath the existing motel that need to be offset to make the project viable, Garrigan said.
He also said the architect has tried to make the building fit in with the area. Theres other buildings on Main Street hes incorporated into his design to make this part of the fabric of the community and not something that doesnt fit the Adirondacks and Lake Placid, he said.
But the Summit Hotel has hired a consultant and a photographer to try and show how their business would be negatively affected by the structure. Barbee said they tried to work with officials at the Hilton. Theyve been very cordial, she said. But it would have significant impact on us.
The neighbors have also hired a local attorney whos trying to contact other property owners who will be impacted by the loss of their view.
says they planned to lease the new restaurant in the next three months, but those
people have now backed out. She thinks its because of what the Hilton has
proposed. I do believe thats the reason they decided to pull out of
the project, she said. They were excited for a lake front view. Well
probably end up operating it ourselves.
"Hilton's design is huge. It is like five Walmarts stacked on top of each other, plus turrets, peaked roofs and towers. Also, it appears to be just the first step of an aggressive overall plan to build up their whole complex, making us look more like the Town of North Hilton. "
Acting Executive Director
U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation
Lake Placid, NY 12946
"If it isn't one jerk it's another. We are really up against it! The almighty dollar is what is driving this poor plan for expansion. Keep up the good work Rob!"
are very interested in this organization, as we feel our town is getting beyond
it's quaint, hometown feel that we all appreciate it for. If you need more help
of volunteers to spread the message, count us in.
"Progress is important to any town. However,when it changes the face of our town and the reasons why people live and visit here,then it has gone too far. A conservative updating of the Hilton Properties, in keeping with the town's character is called for, but not this massive approach or with the adverse affect on its residents that this project surely will have".
"The purpose of the Lake Placid building code is to "preserve the character of the community" This project, as proposed, totally ignores this criteria."
December 8, 2006
Lake Placid News
6179 Sentinel Ave
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Good News? Bad News? That really is the question you might want to ask
yourself about the proposed Hilton Redevelopment Project located on Mirror
Lake Drive. I know that for me, the answer is bad news. I've never paid
enough attention to area zoning laws (like most of us, I've been busy.)
But this project is different for me because it is being built in my front
yard. No one else will be as adversely affected as I am, but the reason
you may want to pay attention is because, as I have learned, what effects
me will probably at some time effect you if you own a home in Lake Placid.
The Hilton Redevelopment Project is proposing a 46 unit Condo/Hotel
directly in front of my home. This project will replace the Hilton motel
extension on Mirror Lake Drive. I live on Swiss Road, which is loosely
considered to be part of the "Signal Hill" neighborhood. If I'm having a
pizza or a bed delivered I just say I live right across the street from
Dr. Bergamini, and that usually works for me. This district is labeled
R-1A (Residential) in the land use codebook (This book is very, very thick
and lives in Jim Morganson's office on the 3rd floor of the town hall.)
The land use codebook made clear my current rights as a residential
property owner; what my restrictions were with regard to setbacks and
height restrictions for my home. It also spelled out for me the rights of
my commercial neighbor, The Hilton.
The Hilton's land use code is C-1 for commercial properties. Two of the
many C-1 restrictions are:
1. No building, parking or service area shall be closer than 100 feet to
a Residential District
2. The Maximum height for C-1 Zone is 30 feet.
The Hilton developers are seeking four variances from the current land use
code. Two of these concern the above listed restrictions. The Hilton has
asked to take back 67 feet of the 100-foot setback that protects me, the
residential neighbor, from them for a parking lot. This will make the
buffer 33 feet instead of 100 feet. So now there will be a parking lot 33
feet from my front yard. My house sits close to my property line so the
effect is that my house is now sitting in the parking lot of the new
Hilton Condo owners. The original intention of the land use code was to
protect me, the residential neighbor, from the noise, fumes, and lights
from commercial use. Is there any sane reason why the Hilton should be
granted this setback variance? Sixty-seven feet is an insane request, but
frankly, as I've paid my mortgage and taxes on this property for eighteen
years and worked in the community for as many, I don't see how I can be
reasonably expected to give up any of this setback to developers. Can you?
Pretty much the same argument goes for the height variance the developer
is requesting. They are looking for 19 feet 10 inches above the 30 feet
allowed in the land use code. This then seems like it would wind the
project up at about 50 feet high in front of my house. When I look at the
drawings for this project, it appears that the building in front of my
house will be 69-72 feet in height (I have asked several people, including
town building personnel if this can possibly be true. Since they are only
asking for 19'10, how did we get to 72 feet? I know the height code is
difficult to interpret, but I don't think it was the intention of the code
to exceed the 30-foot limit by 42 feet.) I will no longer have a view of
the lake and mountains, which I have enjoyed for the last 18 years.
Isn't it ironic that as I'm just about to pay off my home mortgage, not
only will the value of it be taken away, but also my personal enjoyment of
it? And here's the final bit of irony. if we don't get this project to
consider the rights of the neighboring home-owners, someone, probably from
Connecticut or Northern New Jersey, will have been offered my land and
view, by a developer from Illinois, who will receive somewhere between
$500 -1.5 million dollars for each of the 46 units, and neither the
developer nor the second home owner will ever live here.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the future of the year-round
resident is really what is at stake here.
If you live here, come to a public hearing for this project on December 18
at the Town Hall at 7PM. Maybe we can help each other understand this
project and our rights as residents of Lake Placid.
37 Swiss Road
Lake Placid, NY 12946
To the Editor:
Recently I attended a meeting at a residence in the
Signal Hill area involving orientation and discussion concerning the proposed
Hilton Redevelopment Project. I must say I was completely shocked by the enormity
of this project!! As a Signal Hill home owner I am very concerned with the proposed
architecture. I am not an architect but by just viewing the plans, a five story
building with towers must exceed every variance that we have in Lake Placid. Do
we really want this on Mirror Lake Drive?
Dec. 20th 10 am
Hilton Update - Meeting with Bill DeForrest
& John Dodson - Tuesday 19th, 10 AM
C/O Rob Grant