AMA subdivision wins approval

Hill Cottage, seen here earlier this month, is also known as the Radiographer’s Cottage. It’s one of three house lots on the former Trudeau Sanatorium property in Saranac Lake that the American Management Association plans to put on the market. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

SARANAC LAKE — American Management Association got the green light this week to subdivide three house lots it wants to sell on its 64-acre campus.

The New York City-based company received village Development Board approval Tuesday to subdivide the Gate Cottage, the Mallinson Cottage and the Hill Cottage parcels from the rest of its property. The Gate Cottage lot would be 0.838 acres, the Mallinson Cottage lot would be 0.419 acres, and the Hill Cottage lot would be 0.478 acres, according to the plans.

All three are located on Park Avenue just past AMA’s south gate and are part of the Trudeau Sanatorium Historic District, which is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Development Board Chairwoman Leslie Karasin said AMA representatives told the board they plan to sell the three lots individually, although they reportedly don’t have any potential buyers yet.

“They put forth a rationale that they’re farthest away form the core of their campus, closest to the Park Avenue neighborhood and the easiest freestanding properties that could be parceled off for sale,” she said.

Gate Cottage, also called the Superintendent’s Cottage, is on Park Avenue, just past the American Management Association’s south gate. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

AMA officials have made no secret about the fact that they want to sell off their unused buildings and land. As of two years ago, the company was only using three of the 29 buildings on the property, the site of the former Trudeau Sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. AMA bought the property in 1957, after the sanatorium closed in 1954.

In 2014, AMA submitted a conceptual plan to the village that would divide the property into four zones and allow for a range of uses: residential, institutional, commercial and light industrial. The biggest change would be to the woodlands on the western side of the property, which the company said could become a 24-lot residential subdivision.

Karasin said the board asked about that earlier plan at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We asked whether they were still pursuing that kind of a vision for the property, whether this subdivision was just the first step,” she said. “They said no, the vision they put forth in that preliminary concept isn’t one they’re working toward at this point and that this subdivision is all they have immediate plans of proposing.”

AMA representatives didn’t say when or if they plan to subdivide more of the houses and cottages on the site either, Karasin said.

Mallinson Cottage is one of three houses on the American Management Association property that the New York City-based company plans to sell. It was once part of Trudeau Sanitarium, the heart of Saranac Lake’s tuberculosis curing industry. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

“They were reluctant to be pinned down in time frames,” she said. “‘Will we see you in another 6 months with another subdivision?’ They said no, this is all they’re planning to do at this point.”

During a public hearing on the application, Karasin said several local residents asked about the condition of the three houses and whether they’d be kept or torn down. AMA officials said two are newly renovated while the third is in good structural shape, Karasin said.

There were also questions about the overall, big-picture plan for the property, including from Marilyn Duffy, who’s lived next to AMA gate for 40 years. She said AMA has been a good neighbor and she doesn’t have any concerns about the three houses being subdivided and put on the market.

“My concern is the full game plan and how much protection we have, those of us who have lived in this area for years, against a large development taking place there,” Duffy told the Enterprise Thursday. “My biggest concern is somebody coming in and building condos up the hill and creating drainage problems for us.”

While no one knows what AMA plans to do in the future, “At least the village knows that a couple people are watching,” Duffy said.

The board gave the project conditional approval. Karasin said AMA needs to provide draft easement language to be inserted in future deeds that addresses a village utility issue and a shared driveway between two of the properties.