SARANAC LAKE - The village has agreed to search for a consultant to help it secure grants and loans for renovations to apartment houses, former cure cottages and other multi-family properties.
The village Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to issue a request for proposals for housing consultants. Interested firms or individuals have to respond by mid December.
"We don't know how much this type of consultant would cost or what kind of response we'd get, but the idea is to get the (requests for proposals) back and then we can have a good idea of what our options are and what they can bring to the table versus what we can do in-house," village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans told the board. "This was a recommendation from the village local development corporation. We've identified housing, and the quality and quantity of housing, as an issue that needs to be addressed in the village, which has not just safety implications but also economic development implications."
Evans told the Enterprise that the consultant would be responsible for writing and administering housing grants, "anything from developing the concept to closing out the project."
He said it is work his office could do, but if it really wants to make progress, the village could use some help.
"There's only so many hours in the day," Evans said. "Could we develop the same expertise as a dedicated housing consultant? Yes, but if we did nothing else. We do think the right firm could bring some value to this whole thing because housing keeps coming up as an issue."
Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau said outside help is needed to tackle housing issues in the village.
"Although our Community Development Office is multi-talented and possesses a lot of experience, it doesn't have a staff member with a lot of private enterprise residential real-estate investment and development experience with local market knowledge, so we're going to see what's out there and see if it fits with the grant opportunities available to us," Rabideau said in an email. "Saranac Lake is unique with its very large cure cottage housing stock that is challenging to convert to single-family or multi-family re-use. And without that type of conversion, we won't be maximizing the housing stock for our current residents or for our future residents."
Evans said there isn't any money in the current village budget to hire a housing consultant, although the board could reallocate other funds to the position in the current fiscal year, and budget for it in future years, should the idea move forward.
"Our goal is this would be a multi-year relationship, if we decide to do it," Evans said. "We've got to see what the costs are and figure out if it's worth it or not. We look at it as information gathering."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.