Company proposes STR makeovers for shuttered buildings
LAKE PLACID — A New York City-based property management company wants to renovate three derelict buildings in Lake Placid and turn them into short-term vacation rental units.
Katrina Peralta, Frank Hax and Albert Gjonbalaj proposed two separate renovation projects before the Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board last week.
Hax and Gjonbalaj are the co-founders and COOs of Stay at Lina, a property management company based in New York City; Peralta is the company’s head of design. Stay at Lina has converted two other Lake Placid properties into STRs — one on Sentinel Road and one on Wilmington Road.
The Stay at Lina team is proposing another Sentinel Road property conversion. Peralta said the team wants to take the site of the former Subway and Nice n’ Easy gas station and convenience store, at 6157 and 6163 Sentinel Rd., and convert the two existing buildings into townhomes.
Stay at Lina is currently under contract to buy the 1.59-acre property, which includes a property at 58 Spring Road, according to the company’s project application.
Each building would have three two-story townhomes each. The former Nice n’ Easy building would be expanded to accommodate wider units. The first building would have a kitchen, living room, five bedrooms and three bathrooms per unit. The second building would have a kitchen, living room, three bedrooms and two bathrooms per unit. That’s a total of 24 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms between the two buildings.
Hax said Stay at Lina intends to maintain ownership of the property, establish a homeowner’s association there and rent out the units for short-term use. He said visitors would likely be able to book the units up to 28 days in a month. Hax mentioned that there’s a possibility that Stay at Lina might sell the townhomes, but he said that for a period of time — “a period of time which is unknown at this point” — the company plans to own them and use them as STRs. Hax said that’s what they’ve done with all their other properties.
The properties make up six tax parcels, though Stay at Lina’s land surveyor and consultant, Robert Marvin, said the company wants to treat them as one. The project’s application states that each townhome would have individual tax identifications. Marvin said the properties run straight through from Sentinel Road to Spring Street.
Stay at Lina doesn’t yet have plans to develop the portion of the property behind the buildings on Sentinel, he said, adding that the company wants to get through this project first.
Stay at Lina proposed some landscaping for the front of the buildings. The company also included two color options for the townhomes, one an off-white color and one a dark gray.
The review board scheduled a site visit and asked the Stay at Lina team to send a notice to neighbors. There will be a public hearing for this project, since the proposal includes a change of use from a mixed commercial use property to a multi-family conditional use property.
The public hearing is scheduled for the review board’s meeting on April 6.
Gjonbalaj wrote in the project application that Stay at Lina has a well-received presence in Lake Placid, and the company believes the new Sentinel Road property would help accommodate more tourists.
“As residential developers we have been very involved with and supportive of creating affordable accommodations for visitors to the Lake Placid community,” he wrote. “We know that the city leadership understands that as the city’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination expands, it is a real challenge to meet the need for enjoyable and well-appointed short-term accommodations.”
Stay at Lina also wants to renovate an old metal shed at 5184 Cascade Road into a two-story single family home with eight bedrooms and four bathrooms. The company also wants to use this property for short-term vacation rental use.
The barn would be reduced in size by about two-thirds, according to Peralta, and the company would add windows to the structure. The barn would be painted a dark gray color.
Marvin said the company is calling the renovated structure a “single-family home” because he said “short-term rental” isn’t in the land use code as a building definition. The term “short-term rental” is in the land use code, but it’s a permitted use, meaning that a person who wanted to use their property as a short-term rental would need to get a permit — that’s a separate process from this review board review. Marvin said that once Stay at Lina gets approved for a single family building, then they’ll deal with STR laws and permitting.
The review board scheduled a site visit, and Stay at Lina is required to send a notice to neighbors. This proposal doesn’t require a public hearing.
After the company’s presentation, review board member Chip Bissell asked the board why Stay at Lina’s existing two properties in Lake Placid hadn’t come up for review by the board in the past. Code Enforcement Officer Darci Whitney said those were renovation projects that didn’t require board review.
Board Chairman Rick Thompson said he was questioning why the board wasn’t thinking of the two project’s properties as hotels. He said the board had previously approved projects, like Lake Placid Ski and Board on Main Street, as a conditional change of use as a hotel.
“I’m just sort of curious as to why we’re not even, at this point, thinking of these properties as hotels, especially given the capacity in them,” Thompson said.
Board member Laura Yerkovich asked if there were limitations on how much Stay at Lina could rent the properties for short-term use. The village of Lake Placid and the town of North Elba have different limitations on how many days an STR can be rented per year, based on the STR’s location.
Whitney said that the Sentinel Road property — which is in the village center — could be rented for an unlimited amount of days, while the Cascade Road property — which is in a rural countryside corridor — would be limited to 120 days per year.
The town and village started a six-month moratorium this month on issuing new short-term rental permits as the municipalities consider alterations to their STR laws. Stay at Lina would not be able to apply for an STR permit for its properties until the moratorium ends. Whitney said the company knows about the moratorium, and she said that’s why they’re proposing the renovation as a single-family home. She added that the Stay at Lina team knows that they could be denied an STR permit depending on how much the municipalities’ STR laws change, and she said the company is aware they would have to make a different plan at that point.
The board briefly discussed if the two properties might meet the land use code’s definition of a hotel. Board Attorney Tim Smith then advised the board to end its conversation on the record, which it did.