Homestead preps new development, gives update on Fawn Valley

Homestead Development Corporation President Steve Sama presents the second phase of the Fawn Valley development, Fox Hill, to the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board Wednesday evening. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid-based affordable housing developer Homestead Development Corporation presented a sketch plan for a new housing development for essential workers at the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board meeting Wednesday.

Fox Hill, the developer’s new project, will consist of 22 single-family homes with access off of Algonquin Drive. The announcement comes on the heels of the completion of Fawn Valley, Homestead’s previous affordable home development on Wesvalley Road. The project must be approved by the Adirondack Park Agency before the Review Board moves forward with it; Homestead has not submitted an APA application yet.

“Our idea is to serve the demographic that is, possibly, people who have served the community who have retired or can’t afford to own a home, but certain communities (that) deserve to be able to live here,” Homestead president Steve Sama said.

Unlike Fawn Valley, Fox Hill will be all single-family homes — no townhomes. According to Homestead’s review board application, there will be two styles of homes built at Fox Hill, ranches and Cape Cods. The six ranch-style homes will have two bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and full basements. Ten cape-style homes will have two bedrooms, one bathroom, full basements and attic access; six additional cape-style homes will have finished attics containing a second full bathroom and at least one additional bedroom.

Sama said the homes will not be visible from Saranac Avenue and will be finished in similar colors to Fawn Valley: blues, reds, greens and browns.

Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board chairman Rick Thompson listens to Homestead Development Corporation’s sketch plan presentation for the second phase of the Fawn Valley development, Fox Hill. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

Board member David Genito expressed concern about the neighborhood looking too “cookie-cutter” and asked Sama if there were ways to give the homes varying features besides different colored siding.

“The economy’s scale in operating like this allows us to keep the homes at a reasonable price,” Sama said. “Sure, we could mix it up and add and change and make things different, but these are starter homes. It’s really designed to give people a leg up when they’re buying … their first home.”

The homes will have similar deed restrictions to the homes at Fawn Valley, Sama said. These restrictions include banning rentals and a cap on what homeowners could sell the homes for. The formula that determines the sale price cap is a 2% increase on the purchase price per year. Sales have to be approved by Homestead, and Homestead will be notified automatically by their title company if any of the homes go on the market.

“Our prerogative is to allow the seller to make some money but not enough to make it an unreasonably priced home,” Sama said.

There will not be a homeowners association for Fox Hill, according to Sama. The Fawn Valley townhomes were required by the state government to have an HOA, but the six single-family homes at Fawn Valley, which are more similar to the plan for Fox Hill, are not a part of that HOA. Sama said Homestead will enforce deed restrictions and approve homeowners’ plans to make changes to the homes.

Fawn Valley is seen here under construction in April 2022. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

Board chairman Rick Thompson questioned if Homestead had the same aesthetic enforcement power as an HOA.

“Is the development company going to live on in perpetuity?” Thompson asked. “The one that built my development is long gone, and there’s a lot of deed restrictions that are done the same way.”

Board attorney Tim Smith said questioning Homestead’s management of the deed restrictions may not fall under the board’s purview.

“Is there a public interest in that being a part of it, or is that beyond our jurisdiction?” Smith asked. “In subdivision review, our main concerns would be roads and utilities. And so that will be taken care of, have all the right departmental approvals, et cetera. But as to whether there is a taste arbiter going on into time, I don’t know.”

Homestead will now go through approval with the APA before returning to the review board. Sama said he hopes the APA will give its stamp of approval by the fall. According to review documents, the first homes — six cape-styles — should be completed in the summer of 2025 and on the market by that fall.

Fawn Valley

While Homestead moves forward with Fox Hill, most of Fawn Valley sits empty. The state-required HOA has not been approved by state Attorney General Letitia James’s office. Until the HOA is approved, Homestead is not allowed to market the homes, let alone sell them. This means no social media, no websites and no applications. The HOA has been before the Attorney General’s office for eight months now, according to Sama.

Once the HOA is approved, Homestead Development can start conducting presales, taking deposits and moving mortgages forward.

Smith told Sama that getting an HOA approved is a “Kafkaesque process.”

“The Attorney General’s office makes it so hard to set up HOAs that the decision to not have one (at Fox Hill) is understandable and smart,” Smith said.

The six single-family homes at Fawn Valley have already been sold, as they are not a part of the HOA, and have been occupied for around a year. They sold for $220,000 each. Sama said there have been no conflicts or resales thus far.

The development is not considered “affordable housing,” as its units are designated for households earning up to 200% AMI, which is about $167,400.

Eight of the townhouse units will be reserved for employees of the local school district and hospitals — four units for LPCSD staff and four units for the two Adirondack Health-run hospitals in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.


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