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State plans to rebuild Whiteface Mid-Station, starting this spring

This rendering shows what a rebuild Mid-Station is expected to look like at the state-owned Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. (Image provided by the governor's office)

The state will rebuild the Mid-Station Lodge.

The popular midway stop at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, which was destroyed by fire Nov. 30, is slated to be rebuilt for an estimated cost of $14 million, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office told the Enterprise Saturday.

It’s one of the projects the governor says he is going to include in his State of the State speech Wednesday in Albany.

Along with the news came renderings of what the new lodge will look like: a two-story A-frame with a vaulted ceiling on the upper floor and a wraparound deck. Glass-paneled walls from floor to ceiling are framed by timber and light grey or black metal and custom stonework.

The new structure will be 10,000 square feet in total area, according to the governor’s office, larger than the 8,400-square-foot lodge that was decimated by fire. It will include food and beverages for sale, a large dining area and restrooms.

This rendering shows what a rebuild Mid-Station is expected to look like at the state-owned Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. (Image provided by the governor's office)

“Rebuilding the Mid-Station Lodge that was destroyed by fire will ensure that the resort continues to deliver a world-class experience as one of the most successful destinations in the ski industry,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Construction is slated to kick off this spring. The plan is to have part of it ready for skiers this November, with completion slated for October 2021.

Insurance will pay for a portion of the construction, but how much of the $14 million being allocated by the state for the rebuild will come from insurance is still being worked out, according to Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo.

This latest investment follows nearly $240 million the state has committed over the last few years to sports venues managed by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. That funding has spurred improvements to Whiteface, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg (home to cross-country skiing, biathlon, bobsled, skeleton and luge venues), and the Gore and Belleayre Mountain ski centers. An estimated $100 million overhaul of the Lake Placid Olympic Center is currently in the design phase, and ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin has said that project would also be state-funded.

This rendering shows what a rebuild Mid-Station is expected to look like at the state-owned Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. (Image provided by the governor's office)

Mid-Station roots

Mid-Station is the central amenity on the slope of Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington, a state-owned facility that opened in the 1950s. Mid-Station is located between the Lower Valley and Upper Valley runs — main arteries among the ski center’s trails — and at a transition point between chairlifts.

The governor’s office estimates that the lodge saw approximately 300,000 to 400,000 visits each season. It was used by many local people and other regulars at Whiteface.

“We’re obviously excited the state has committed those funds to Wilmington’s Whiteface Mountain,” said Wilmington town Supervisor Roy Holzer. “Mid-Station has played a big role in Whiteface operations.”

Mid-Station Lodge at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington is consumed by flames on the night of Nov. 30. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

The former Mid-Station was built in 1960 and housed two restaurants. It was constructed with “modern Swiss design” for around $170,000, according to a Dec. 8, 1960, article in the Lake Placid News. It had ceiling-to-floor glass walls — which the new one will replicate — with views over the mountain’s “Mixing Bowl” area, where upper trails converge.

The lodge was built with the intention of relieving some of the congestion at the Base Lodge. When Mid-Station opened, it housed a restaurant that seated 125 people on the main floor. The lower floor had restrooms and a first-aid room. A balcony completely surrounded the lodge. A dedication ceremony for the new lodge was held in February 1961.

It’s unclear when the Mid-Station Lodge last underwent major renovations, if ever.

Destroyed by fire

Remnants of the former Whiteface Mid-Station are seen on Dec. 1, the morning after the late-night fire that destroyed the building. (Provided photo — Olympic Regional Development Authority)

It’s still unclear what started the blaze that destroyed the original lodge.

Investigators with the state Office of Fire Prevention continue to investigate the cause of the fire, spokesman Colin Brennan said Saturday.

The Mid-Station fire was reported by Whiteface staff at 8:52 p.m. on Nov. 30. The Wilmington Volunteer Fire Department responded shortly after 9 p.m. and called in mutual aid from the Upper Jay Volunteer Fire Department, while the Jay Volunteer Fire Department stood by at the firehouse. New York State Police assisted with traffic control.

Wilmington fire Chief Louis Adragna said that before his department arrived, he could already see the Mid-Station was “fully involved” from state Route 86.

Firefighters were transported up the mountain with snowmobiles and snow cats. The departments teamed up with Whiteface snowmakers to use snow guns to prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding areas. The building burned until 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1.

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