LAKE PLACID - Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind a pair of major hotel projects in Saranac Lake Wednesday, boosting the prospect that the two could win millions of dollars in state economic development funding.
Cuomo, a frequent visitor to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid before and during his tenure as governor, said during a press conference at the Lake Placid Conference Center that Saranac Lake "for many years has had great potential.
"There is a charm about Saranac (Lake) itself," he said. "The businesses are very strong. The lake, the paddling - it's all there."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks with Fred Roedel, right, whose company wants to buy and
renovate the Hotel Saranac in Saranac Lake, following an event in Lake Placid Wednesday.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The big piece that's been missing however, is lodging facilities, Cuomo said. He referenced the two pending hotel projects in the village: New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies' plan to buy and renovate the Hotel Saranac, and Malone developer Chris LaBarge's proposed 90-room hotel on Lake Flower. Roedel Companies is seeking $5 million from the state. LaBarge has asked for $2.2 million. The projects have been given priority status by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
"If we get Hotel Saranac renovated and the right, best institute that we can have there, it would be something special, and I think it will start to turn around Saranac (Lake)," Cuomo said. "We're going to do everything we can to make a new Hotel Saranac a reality, and a development on Lake Flower a reality."
While this is the first time Cuomo has weighed in publicly about the hotel projects, he's taken an interest in the Hotel Saranac deal since not long after it was announced in July. In mid August, Cuomo took part in a conference call about Roedel Companies' proposal with village Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Empire State Development President and CEO Ken Adams. Adams then traveled to Saranac Lake the next day to meet with Rabideau and Fred Roedel III, a principal in Roedel Companies and president of its hotel construction arm, ROK Builders.
The governor told reporters after Wednesday's event that the Hotel Saranac "hasn't been, let's say, at its optimum for some period of time.
"I want to see the hotel redeveloped. We have a person that's interested, and we want to be a financial partner in that redevelopment," Cuomo said. "There's also a complex for Lake Flower that we think could also be beneficial to the entire region, so we want to pursue both aggressively."
While Cuomo's backing isn't a guarantee that the projects will win state funding, it definitely sends a message, Rabideau told the Enterprise.
"It's not all said and done, but given today's personal support and endorsement of the governor, we're very hopeful come December," he said.
Before the press conference in Lake Placid, Rabideau said he took part in a bus tour of the village with members of the committee that will determine what projects around the state will be funded. The tour included stops outside the Hotel Saranac, where Roedel delivered a short presentation about his plans, and at the state boat launch on Lake Flower, where LaBarge highlighted his project across Pontiac Bay. The site was marked by balloons floated earlier Wednesday as part of a height analysis of the proposed hotel.
"We had great presentations by the hotel developers and the staff," Rabideau said. "Having those people here in Saranac Lake was great."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.