LAKE PLACID - Adirondack Museum officials have decided to sell the Main Street property where they once considered building a controversial satellite branch of the main museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
The first step in that process, demolition of the former Adirondack Church of the Nazarene located on the site, got under way Tuesday and is expected to wrap up today, according to museum Director Caroline Welsh.
"Clearly our plans could not go forward as we originally hoped," Welsh said. "We're not able to carry an empty church on a piece of property in Lake Placid, so we're planning to sell the property when the market returns. We did not want a deteriorating building to be an eyesore or a danger to all the visitors and tourists in Lake Placid."
Demolition of the former Adirondack Church of the Nazarene on Main Street in Lake Placid got under way Tuesday. The Adirondack Museum, which owns the property, is clearing the site so it can be put up for sale.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
The decision to demolish the church and sell the property comes more than a year-and-a-half after officials at the museum suspended plans for the Lake Placid branch.
An $8 million, 8,200-square-foot building made of glass, wood and stone, designed by renowned architect David Childs, had been planned on the property, which the museum purchased from the church in 2005 for $1.34 million.
But the project was beset with a host of troubles. The design of the building, which included a 64-foot timber tower, was criticized for being out of character with the rest of Main Street, although it was eventually approved by the Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board after eight months of scrutiny. A neighboring property owner, Tom West, then filed a lawsuit over the project, claiming the tower would block his view of Mirror Lake. Other issues included rising construction costs and fundraising difficulties in a tight economy.
"There were many factors," Welsh said. "The museum is very sorry that its original plans could not come to fruition."
Welsh said the museum would still like to have a presence in Lake Placid and other communities in the Park, "but in terms of bricks and mortar we'll probably stick to our extraordinary facility in Blue Mountain Lake." Welsh said the museum has no plans to abandon the store that it operates on Lake Placid's Main Street.
Asked what will happen to the funds that were raised for the Lake Placid branch, Welsh said the money went into development of the project.
"There really wasn't any excess to reinvest into anything else," she said.
Former Gov. George Pataki had set aside $1 million in state funds for the project just before he left office in 2006, but Welsh said the money was never allocated.
"That did not come to pass," she said.
The Rev. Kenneth Mihill, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, which moved to a new location on Commons Way after it sold the property to the museum, stopped by the demolition site on Tuesday. He served as a pastor in the structure, built in the 1950s, for 22 years, but said he had no emotional attachment to the building.
"It's always sad to see a nice building go," he said. "But I wish (the museum) well, and I hope something nice comes along here for the public. We need something to bring people here to Main Street."
Mihill said he asked museum officials to give him the cornerstone of the building, which Welsh said they've agreed to do.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.