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Development planned on Depot Street

An open space has appeared as the fuel tanks behind the HomEnergy building, right, were removed recently as the fuel and heating company plans to move to a new location. Tim Reilly, who owns this land, is converting the building into apartments and office space. He hopes to construct a building in this open space where the pole barn once stood. The large red building to the left is the site of the planned Play ADK children’s museum, which Reilly said he plans to sell soon. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — Tim Reilly thinks his redevelopment of a Depot Street property where his family used to operate the HomEnergy fuel and heating company will go “hand in hand” with three other projects proposed in that neighborhood.

The Reilly family sold HomEnergy to Mx Petroleum of Massena in 2019. Mx has been a tenant in the Depot Street building, home of the former Branch and Callanan construction firm, until now. The property is owned by HES Ventures, which Reilly runs.

The HomEnergy fuel tanks on that property have been removed and will be scrapped, and the pole barn covering them has been removed. HomEnergy division manager Matt Baird said the fuel company is moving to a new headquarters on John Munn Road near Hulbert Supply, where it will set up a new tank farm and an office. He said he is happy with this move.

Reilly plans to turn the office building into a three-unit apartment building with nicer units geared toward appealing to professionals in the area.

HES Ventures is also in the process of selling the 10,000-square-foot red warehouse west of the HomEnergy building to Play ADK, a nonprofit group planning to build a children’s museum at that site. Play ADK, led by Rob Carr, is set to receive a $950,000 reimbursement after the project is finished through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, awarded to Saranac Lake in 2018.

The state-owned train tracks, which ran parallel to the buildings on the other side of Depot Street, are in the midst of being ripped up and turned into a trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid.

Another project lies next to the HomEnergy property. The land behind Adirondack Tire is the site of a proposed development of 65 mixed-income, loft-style apartment, with up to 45 of these units designated for artists to rent.

Reilly thinks these projects are all interconnected.

“I think it’s terrific,” he said. “It’s really transformational for that end of town.”

He anticipates it will take several hundred thousand dollars to rehabilitate the HomEnergy building for apartments. Right now it is all used for office space.

Reilly said his company is using money from the DRI grant Saranac Lake was awarded in 2018, as well as his own investment.

He plans to gut the top floor and convert it into two apartment units. The first floor will have office space in the front and one apartment in the back.

There are three phases for his plans. Phase one is to complete the PlayADK museum. Rehabilitating the HomEnergy building is phase two. In phase three he’ll figure out what to do with the acre of open space where the fuel tanks once stood out back.

Reilly said it’s “very possible” HES Ventures may build something there. What that building would be used for is still to be determined, but he said he’d want it to fit in with what the other projects are turning the neighborhood into.

Reilly said the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, next to the HomEnergy building was built 10 years ago specifically for the clinic, and he expects it will continue to use that building.

Redevelopment of the Depot Street area has been discussed since the 1970s when freight train service to Saranac Lake ended, leaving behind empty buildings and storage yards.

Hyde Fuel, another major landowner in that area, is growing its operations at a property it owns in Ray Brook but plans to keep its fuel tanks in Saranac Lake in place for now.

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