IDA advances tax exemption for Dew Drop Inn renovation

Callie Shelton, who with her husband and business partner is renovating the former Dew Drop Inn at 27 Broadway, Saranac Lake, poses in the future apartment space in the back in December 2017. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

(Clarification: An earlier version of this article said the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency granted the sales tax exemption, noting at the end that the approval was subject to a public hearing. IDA officials say it is more accurate to say the IDA board voted to accept Chicota’s application as complete and send it to a public hearing, after which final approval will be decided.)

SARANAC LAKE — The Franklin County Industrial Development Agency moved forward on a $100,000 sales tax exemption for Chicota Inc., the developer currently rebuilding the old Dew Drop Inn, to help pay for materials needed to complete the construction.

The tax exemption is an estimate based on what the developer expects to spend on those materials.

“The projected benefit to the applicant exceeds $100,000,” said IDA CEO Jeremy Evans, who until last year worked as the village of Saranac Lake’s community development director.

Calli Shelton of Chicota appeared before the IDA Wednesday morning to plead her case.

The former Dew Drop Inn, on Broadway and the Saranac River in downtown Saranac Lake, is seen in December 2017. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

“We were hoping to save a lot more of the building than we were able to,” Shelton said. “Once construction got started on the building, she said, workers found damage to the foundation facing Broadway, fire-damaged wood and a number of other serious problems.

“We’re on hold,” said Shelton. “We haven’t done any work since December.”

She said the estimate now for the total project to be complete is around $2.4 million. She said they’ve lined up $832,000 in grant funding and are trying to coordinate a financing package for the rest.

The new business will have four components: a restaurant and bar, an event space with room for 50 to 60 people, a cooking school, and luxury apartments on the top floor. Shelton said the apartments will be finished first, and she hopes the income they generate will help pay for the rest of the project.

Evans said the sales and use tax exemption she was seeking was similar to one granted by the IDA to MCM Development, which is undertaking a renovation project in a building in downtown Malone. MCM’s renovation of the River Building, 399-403 East Main St., was recently awarded $1 million in grant funding through a state downtown revitalization initiative.

“I think this is a kind of thing we have to be involved in as an IDA,” said Rod Lauzon. “I’m very happy to see this kind of project.”

Justus Martin, IDA chair, asked what the vision is for the cooking school.

Shelton said they hope to have a variety of cooking classes, from credit-bearing classes provided by local educational institutions to cooking classes for kids taught by local chefs. She said chef Paul Sorgule, who ran Paul Smith’s College’s culinary school for many years, will run the cooking school.

The board voted unanimously to proceed with the tax exemption. In order for it to go through, there must be a public hearing, which will be held in May.

The IDA board held this meeting at the massively renovated Hotel Saranac, which was reopened in January.