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New Placid housing complex?

Local officials in talks with developer for possible development on Wesvalley Road

LAKE PLACID — A new housing complex in Lake Placid could be on the horizon.

Local officials met with an Ardsley-based developer last week, Larry Regan of Regan Development, to discuss the possibility of building a new affordable housing complex in Lake Placid.

To sweeten the deal for the developer, the Lussi family — which owns the Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club — has now offered to donate 5 acres of a nearly 16-acre property toward the project. The land is located behind the Shipman Youth Center parking lot, off of Wesvalley Road.

Details about the preliminary talks came to light Tuesday afternoon at a North Elba Town Council workshop, six days after the council signed an option agreement paving the way for a separate housing complex proposed at the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center.

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna, who has been involved in both discussions, said the next step for the Wesvalley Road project will be notifying the state Department of Homes and Community Renewal of the town council’s support for the proposed development. HCR provides financing and support for affordable housing developments.

Regan Development will then conduct an independent market analysis, McKenna said.

“Between the Cell Science Center and this, I think we’re well underway in putting a dent into that housing report,” he said, referencing a recent housing needs assessment that identified the need for more than 1,534 workforce housing units in Lake Placid.

According to Arthur Lussi, who has been in contact with Regan, the developer has indicated the complex on Wesvalley could include 40 to 60 affordable housing units overseen by a live-in superintendent. If those apartments fill up, the complex could expand in the future, he said.

Regan did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Little sets meeting

The meeting between Regan and local officials last week was held at state Sen. Betty Little’s Glens Falls office. Darren Scott, upstate east development director for HCR was also in attendance.

Regan’s company built an affordable housing complex in Plattsburgh in 2015, located on Ampersand Drive behind the Walmart Supercenter. Little said she first met Regan during that process.

The company is currently working on the construction of another new affordable housing complex in Little’s district, this one in Glens Falls. It’s called Broad Street Commons, and the complex is expected to have 71 apartments serving a variety of income levels, including 11 apartments for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Little, R-Queensbury, said the Lake Placid complex would likely include one- and two-bedroom units affordable to those who make around 60% of the local area median income, a requirement of receiving HCR funding. As of 2018, in Essex County, that would mean one person making up to $29,220 per year or two people making up to $33,360 per year, according to HCR.

Little said Regan used to visit Lake Placid with his son for CanAm hockey tournaments, and he expressed interest in “looking to see if he could be assistance to us.”

“We know we certainly need to find a way to develop more housing for people who work in Lake Placid and would like to live in Lake Placid,” she said Wednesday. “I think it’s important. Those projects are competitive, you have to submit them for tax credits. Those tax credits could be sold to help finance the project. It’s a percentage of the project, but it’s an incentive for people to do workforce housing. I think it would be great.”

PILOT agreement?

At the workshop Tuesday, councilors discussed the developer’s request for a PILOT agreement if the project moves forward. PILOTs, or payment in lieu of taxes, can be negotiated to provide tax breaks to a developer working on a property that creates a public benefit. PILOTs could include either the limitation, or deferment, of property taxes owed.

The Lussi family’s corporation, Lake Placid Vacation Corp., paid a combined $3,530 in local and school taxes on its Wesvalley property last year, according to Essex County tax records. The property, nearly 16 acres in all, was last assessed at $276,700.

McKenna said he believed that even with a PILOT agreement, the project would still generate more tax revenue for the town and Lake Placid Central School District than the empty lot that currently exists there.

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