Van Ho price tag goes up

North Elba supervisor wishes ORDA had showed base lodge plans to town board

A video by Pike Companies shown at the ORDA board meeting Wednesday shows what the base lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg may look like. It would be built beside the bobsled-luge-skeleton track. (Provided image — Olympic Regional Development Authority)

LAKE PLACID — Site work and preparations for the construction of a new base lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg are progressing on schedule. But they’re expected to cost $10-20 million more than previously thought, and at least one local official feels he was left out of the loop.

Michael Pratt, CEO of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, said last week that upgrades at Mount Van Hoevenberg’s Olympic Sports Complex are now expected to reach upward of $60 million. A new 30,000-square-foot, three-story base lodge will cost $32 million by itself, Pratt said.

In February he had told the Enterprise the total Mount Van Hoevenberg project would cost $40-50 million.

“It’s challenging,” Pratt said at a meeting of the North Elba town board last week, when asked about a separate but related project at the 1980 Olympic ski jumps, which recently received a bid more than double the cost that was expected. “Because we have plans, but we go out to bid and it’s much more than we thought.”

The ORDA board awarded design and construction of a new base lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg to the Rochester-based Pike Company last month, but Pratt said last week that deal is still awaiting approval by the state comptroller’s office. The Pike Company has done work in Lake Placid before, most recently on the Conference Center addition to the Olympic Center, which includes the 1932 and 1980 Olympic arenas.

Not heeding style critics

ORDA’s concept for the new base lodge is a joint building with the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, with amenities for hikers, biathletes and Nordic ski enthusiasts as well. The new lodge would be located near the end of the bobsled-luge-skeleton track and a new trailhead to Cascade and Porter mountains, as well as a trailhead to the facility’s namesake Mount Van Hoevenberg. The lodge is expected to include a third-floor outlook area where visitors can watch bobsled teams practice, as well as a retail store, lounge areas and amenities for hikers.

When early plans for the base lodge were unveiled, some Enterprise readers said its aesthetics left something to be desired.

“Thank you for all the planning and updating of the facilities, but I sure wish you incorporated some of the Adirondack style,” said one commenter, Joseph Korzenecki. “The Visitors Center on the Northway and many other fine examples exist. While it looks very functional, it does lack warmth and a welcoming ‘let’s relax here’ feel.”

“Looks like a 1978 Holiday Inn,” wrote another commenter, Bob Miller.

“This is the worst design of a ski lodge I’ve ever seen,” wrote Sharon Middendorf. “Back to the drawing board. #fail.”

Pratt said he isn’t phased by the comments.

“There are going to be some tweaks to the designs, but not because people are expressing their opinions on what looks good,” he said at the town board meeting last week.

Town supervisor “caught off guard”

North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi told Pratt last week that he was surprised when he saw the plans for the new base lodge on the front page of the Enterprise last month.

“I was really caught off guard,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing any plans on Mount Van Ho.”

Politi said he wasn’t aware of the full scope of the project until he fielded calls from constituents about it and picked up the newspaper.

“I realize there’s an easement, but it’s on town of North Elba property,” he said. “We’re partners. That’s how we look at it.

“We’re not going to micromanage you. But it’d be nice to be on the same page regarding the plans.”

Pratt said ORDA had met with the North Elba town board regarding the project and would be willing to meet with the board in the future.

Scope and timeline

Other work slated at Mount Van Hoevenberg includes the construction of a new cross-country ski stadium and two “mountain coasters,” one for recreation and another for transportation; the addition of more cross-country ski trails and updated trailheads — relocated away from state Route 73 — that would connect to Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff mountains; and the incorporation of a new 8-million gallon snowmaking reservoir with storage.

Construction at Mount Van Hoevenberg is projected to last roughly 26 months, according to Pratt. The new base lodge is expected to open in the winter of 2021, and the other work, including the installation of new trails and stadium construction, is scheduled for completion in 2021 or 2022.


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