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New Tupper hotel among priority projects

A new hotel in Tupper Lake, upgrades to Cascade Ski Center in Lake Placid, and a new art center at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake are among the North Country’s priority projects for state economic development funding this year.

A trio of projects in Saranac Lake, including planned renovations to the former Dew Drop Inn, also scored high, although they aren’t named on the priority list.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council included 27 priority projects Wednesday in its 2016 Progress Report to Empire State Development.

The region is vying against nine others around New York for a share of $750 million in state funding and tax incentives the state is offering as part of the sixth year of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council competition. The awards are typically announced in December.

Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake has two projects on the priority list. The first is Tupper Lake Crossroads, a 40-room, downtown boutique hotel proposed by Betsy Lowe, the primary founder of the Wild Center nature museum, and Nancy Howard, a former owner of the Wawbeek resort on Upper Saranac Lake. The hotel would include a restaurant, conference and meeting space, a pool, fitness center and other amenities. It would create 15 jobs, plus 30 construction jobs.

The project would cost $10.2 million. Tupper Lake Crossroads is asking the state for $3.5 million.

A proposed community-wide wood pellet heating system in Tupper Lake is also a priority project this year. The village would construct the biomass system for downtown residents and businesses, and it would reduce winter heating costs by 30 to 40 percent, according to the Council’s plan. Later phases of the project would link the rest of the village and the town into the system.

A $1.4 million grant from the state is being sought toward the overall $7 million project.

Lake Placid

Two projects spearheaded by the Jubin family of Lake Placid are listed as priorities. Cascade Ski Center is planning $210,000 worth of infrastructure improvements in order to support year-round operations, including hiring permanent full-time staff.

“These upgrades include new snowmaking equipment, establishing a new farm-to-table cafe, and upgrading the restaurant, bar, bathroom and bunkhouse facilities,” reads the Council’s report.

The ski center is asking the state for $42,000.

Forever Wild Beverage Company, which bottles and sells drinks made from shrubs and was founded by Jennifer Jubin, is asking the state for $18,600 toward a $93,000 plan to lease space and build a new production facility in downtown Lake Placid. It will include a processing kitchen and production room with bottling and packaging equipment.

“Additionally, the company will feature a small bar and tasting room to test new house-made products, encourage community participation, and allow visitors a ‘meet the maker’ experience,” the Council said.

Adirondack Museum

The Adirondack Museum’s plan to convert an existing building into a dedicated space for Adirondack art is also on the priority list.

Museum marketing manager Paige Doerner said the Adirondack Art and Design Center would be the Adirondacks only major art museum, showcasing the museum’s painting and rustic furniture collections along with important prints, drawings and photographs.

“It will be a museum within a museum,” she wrote in an email. “It will shed new light on the way artists and craftspeople have responded to the Adirondacks from the early 19th century to the present.”

The museum has asked for $1 million toward an overall $2.5 million plan. The Art and Design Center is slated to open in May 2019.

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Saranac Lake

Four Saranac Lake projects were submitted to the Regional Council. None made the priority project list, but three were listed in the report as high-scoring projects that support various state agendas.

One of them is the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation’s request for $500,000 in state grant money for facade renovation and related construction to the former Dew Drop Inn on Broadway. The LDC is seeking “anchor project” funds through the New York Main Street Program, and the Regional Council named it as a project supporting the state’s downtown revitalization agenda.

A request for $49,500 from the New York State Council on the Arts to develop an arts master plan, another LDC-led project, was also named as supporting the downtown revitalization agenda. A village application for $150,000 to extend the River Walk through the Dew Drop and a neighboring property is part of a regional waterfront application that was listed as supporting the New York Rising program agenda.

Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said he’s checking with Empire State Development to see what inclusion in this secondary list means.

“I think what it means is these are all projects that got maximum scoring for aligning with Regional Council goals,” he said. “Now I believe the applications will go to the state agencies for review and the rest of the scoring. It’s good to know the Regional Council recognized those projects for what they were, even if they weren’t listed as priority projects.”

The village also sought $75,000 in funds to help market its hosting of the World Snowshoe Championships in February, but that request doesn’t appear to have made either list.