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Downtown Saranac Lake projects win state approval

SARANAC LAKE — The state has greenlit five building facade renovation projects downtown, and five more are working through the state approval process.

Once they’re approved, the projects are eligible for a share of $300,000 in New York Main Street grant program funds awarded in December 2015 to the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation.

The five properties where facade renovation projects have been approved so far are 97 Main St., home to Bear Essentials and The Community Store; 81 Main St., Blue Line Sports; 77 Main St., where Origin Coffee Co. and Human Power Planet Earth bicycles are located; 63 Main St., home to China Jade restaurant; and the Fiddlehead Bistro at 33 Broadway.

“We are working with the property owners to get these projects done this spring,” LDC Chairman Paul Van Cott wrote in a press release. “All they need to do now is find contractors and get a building permit from the village and we will do all we can to help them finish their projects before summer.”

The five other projects still moving through the state review process are 49 Main St., the Tousley Building; 39 Woodruff St., home to Nori’s Village Market; 79 Main St., T.F. Finnegans; 79 Dorsey St., St. Regis Canoe Outfitters; and the Ledger Block building at 20 Broadway, home to the S.Curtis Hayes Real Estate office. Van Cott said he expects these projects will also be ready to proceed in the spring.

The biggest project on this list, Van Cott said, is the Ledger Block building, owned by the Feinberg family. He said their proposed facade renovations will have a “huge, positive impact” on downtown because of the significant visibility of the building, which fronts on both Broadway and Woodruff Street.

“This project is more complicated because we are trying to use two different state grant programs to make it viable for the property owner,” Van Cott said. “We appreciate the community commitment of the property owner to this important project and will continue to work with him to make this project happen in 2017.”

The state approval process includes a review of environmental conditions and a review by the State Historic Preservation Office. Since most of the buildings involved are historic properties, the state review is even more rigorous, Van Cott said.

In addition to the state grants, since 2014 the LDC has raised money from private donations for downtown revitalization work.

“We were overwhelmed by the community support for downtown revitalization,” Van Cott said. “We have received donations ranging from $25 to $25,000 from people and foundations that care deeply about our village, and every penny goes to downtown revitalization.”

In 2015, the LDC awarded nearly $6,000 from private donations to property owners for architectural design work, which was all spent locally, that laid the foundation for its successful New York Main Street grant application. All of those projects — Blue Line Sports, Bear Essentials, 20 Broadway and Nori’s — are poised to be done in 2017.

Last year, some of the donated funds helped Goody Goody’s toy store with its façade restoration and critical roof work. This year, Van Cott said the LDC expects to spend the rest of the donations on other ongoing and planned revitalization work downtown.

“We have great momentum coming into 2017 and are looking to build on it by supporting more downtown revitalization work,” he said, noting that the LDC is only a catalyst for revitalization. “The biggest credit goes to the downtown property owners who step up to contribute to the renaissance of Saranac Lake, either entirely on their own or with a portion of their costs paid from the grants the LDC is able to obtain. From all who make it possible, downtown revitalization is a labor of love for our Saranac Lake.”

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