Proposed Saranac Lake apartment complex gets $6.5M
SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lofts, a 70-unit apartment complex for artists and mixed-income renters with commercial space for a local nonprofit proposed to be built on partially vacant land between Broadway and Depot Street, got a $6.5 million boost from the state on Wednesday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the project is one of 16 developments in New York getting part of a $104 million pot to create or preserve affordable homes through the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal.
Franklin County Economic Development Corporation CEO Jeremy Evans said this grant was the “key missing piece” standing between the developer and making the project happen. He said he’s had faith in the developer, but getting this grant was a “critical step.”
The developer — Parkview Development and Construction, LLC — is also working with Kearney Group on this project.
Evans said the project also has been awarded a $100,000 grant through the village’s Energize Downtown Fund, which was set up by the DRI and is facilitated by the Franklin County EDC.
The proposed project includes two buildings — The Carry and The Loft.
The Carry would be a smaller, three-story street-side building with a commercial office and seven apartments, built where the current Adirondack Tire building is located. The Carry, a local nonprofit with the same name as the building, focused on supporting start-up businesses, would have a community room, artist work spaces and a residence for a live-in superintendent.
The project has also been awarded $400,000 through the village’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant to outfit The Carry with a co-working space for entrepreneurs.
The Loft would be a larger, four-story structure, holding 63 apartments. This would include 46 one-bedroom units and 17 two-bedroom units.
Forty-five units — a little over half of them — would be designated for artists who meet eligibility requirements to live in. A portion would be rented to people earning 60% or less of Franklin County’s median income — currently $52,905 per household, annually, in 2020 dollars, according to the U.S. Census data. Others would be rented to people earning between 80% and 130% of the median income.
Evans said he “can’t overstate” the importance of this project.
“With all of the needs related to housing … to have an announcement like this … it’s huge,” Evans said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a project of this scale. … Things like this don’t happen all that often, so we should celebrate.”
The state Adirondack Park Agency approved the Saranac Lofts project last year in a 9-1 vote. APA Board Member Art Lussi, of Lake Placid, voted “no” over concerns that the project does not plan for enough parking for all of its units and does not present a detailed plan for how it will handle stormwater runoff.
The land the Saranac Lofts are proposed to be built on are a former brownfield site — land that’s been polluted by hazardous substances. Part of the work on the project is to remediate this contaminant.
Village Community Development Director Jamie Konkoski said this project has preliminary approval from the Saranac Lake Development Board. She expects the project to go before the board for a final approval vote at its Aug. 2 meeting in the Harrietstown Town Hall. There will be a public hearing on the project before the vote.
“Given the housing issues that Saranac Lake is facing, I think this is a significant project that I hope helps alleviate some of the housing crunch in the village,” Konkoski said.
This recent influx of grant money comes from the state HCR’s “Multifamily Finance RFP,” a competitive process which awards federal low-income housing tax credits and subsidy financing for affordable and supportive multifamily housing developments.
All projects getting this money are required to meet green building standards to achieve the goals set by the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The CLCPA requires an 85% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, according to the state, and eventually net zero emissions.
The Lofts will also be required by the state to provide free or low-cost broadband services to residents. The state is trying to “close the digital divide for lower-income New Yorkers.”