Motel-resort fight digs in

Motel owner converts rooms to rentals as he resists selling

David Manning gives a tour of a room in his Lake Side Motel in Saranac Lake this week.
(Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

David Manning gives a tour of a room in his Lake Side Motel in Saranac Lake this week. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

SARANAC LAKE — Another legal action has been filed around the Lake Flower Resort and Spa, and a frustrated motel owner on the site is converting part of his business to apartments.

The 93-room hotel, restaurant and conference center planned for the shore of Lake Flower doesn’t exist yet in bricks and mortar, but on paper it is growing by leaps and bounds.

Attorney Matthew Norfolk, filing for Saranac Lake Resort LLC, and attorney James Brooks, representing Lake Side Motel owner David Manning, have agreed on a schedule for the next round of litigation. Supreme Court Judge Martin Affredou has approved the schedule, ordering that a notice of discovery be served on Manning by Monday.

A notice of discovery means the evidence and supporting documents to be used in a suit must be shared with the opposing lawyer. Once the notice is filed, Manning will have until Nov. 20 to produce the documents. Both sides will be deposed — meaning, their statements will be given to the court — by Dec. 15, and if the schedule goes as planned, the whole thing will wrap up in the end of February 2018.

However, that remains to be seen.

The Adirondack Motel, left, Lake Side Motel, center, and Lake Flower Inn, off camera to the left, sit on the site where developers plan to build the Lake Flower Resort.
(Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

The Adirondack Motel, left, Lake Side Motel, center, and Lake Flower Inn, off camera to the left, sit on the site where developers plan to build the Lake Flower Resort. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

“It’s dead in the water,” Manning said of the resort on Friday. “These people don’t have any financing.”

Although Manning and two other hotel owners on the shore of Lake Flower agreed to sell their properties to developers in 2015, two years have passed since then, and Manning has gotten fed up. In May, the developer missed a deadline for buying Manning out, and he tried to walk away from the contract, saying the deadline to close the deal had been extremely time-sensitive.

The developer sued, having already invested $90,000 in payments to Manning. In the original contract, payments of $5,000 a month to the hotel owner were to accumulate toward the total payment for his property. Attorneys for Saranac Lake Resort LLC asked Judge Affredou to issue a restraining order against Manning to prevent him from selling his hotel to anyone else. In August, Affredou granted that order.

Although Manning maintains that his place is on the market again, last week he was converting hotel rooms into efficiency apartments.

“About half will remain overnight hotel rooms,” he said. Of the 22 others, he is taking out walls between adjacent rooms and creating small apartments. “Five or 10” of the rest will remain hotel rooms, especially the most popular ones with windows facing the lake.

Owners of the Adirondack Hotel and the Lake Flower Inn, the other two hotels under contract to sell to Saranac Lake Resort LLC, declined to comment for this report.

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