LAKE PLACID – A Lake Placid developer, who is expected to build one of the largest new housing developments in the city of North Elba in some time, now plans to reduce the number of housing units in his development, subdivide the land he purchased for the project and to increase the number of income-based units there.
What was going to be a sprawling 355-unit resort, the Peaks at Lake Placid on Barn Road, has now lost 55 units in total, according to North Elba City Supervisor Derek Doty. Doty believed that the promoter, Joe Barile, had decided to reduce the number of units to facilitate the redrawing of lot lines.
Barile was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Doty said with the total decline in units, Barile expects to increase the number of income-based units at the resort. The project was initially approved with the stipulation that 10% of the units were to be leased as “affordable” housing, available only to people earning less than 120% of the area’s median income — which was about $69,500 for Essex County in 2019. Doty said Barile now hopes to have about 40 units available at rental at an affordable price. It’s about five more “affordable” units than expected. Code enforcement officer Mike Orticelle said he believes Barile opted for a higher number of affordable units to help bolster his claim for the project’s sales tax exemption.
Fund the summits
Councilwoman Emily Politi said last month that Barile applied for a sales tax exemption for the Peaks project through the Essex County Industrial Development Agency. She said that if the IDA finds the project eligible for the tax exemption, the Essex County Council and Board of Supervisors would also have to approve the project’s eligibility. Doty said Thursday that he does not expect IDA board members to review Barile’s case until the end of this month.
Politi said the IDA tax exemption request is now “common practice” for large-scale developments like the Peaks. She said the rebuilt former Quality Inn on Saranac Avenue and the renovation project for the former North Woods Hotel — now the Grand Adirondack Hotel — recently received tax exemptions through IDA.
Barile encountered a few hurdles in financing the Peaks. He was denied a loan he originally applied for through Green Bank, a state-sponsored bank aimed at financing green energy projects, which would have fully funded the project. He eventually secured partial financing through the Evans Bank in Buffalo and the local Champlain National Bank, which led Barile to develop the project in “steps” because it provided additional funding.
The 101-unit first phase was expected to be complete by the 2023 FISU games next January and accommodate around 620 athletes, but Barile told Adirondack North Country Sports Council executive director Ashley Walden earlier this year that he could not guarantee that none of the units would be done by the games.
Orticelle said Barile’s lot is currently split into three lots, and Barile wants to create four lots. Orticelle believed that Barile’s motivation for severing the Peaks lot was to more easily obtain financing for the project’s phases.
Orticelle said the lot changes would need to be reapproved by the Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board, although he said it would not be a “full-fledged” verification process. He didn’t believe the board would reject the change. He said Barile had taken no steps to get the new plots approved.
Orticelle added that lowering units likely wouldn’t need review board approval.
Construction crews cleared the Peaks lot last fall and began installing underground infrastructure. Before the crews stopped work for the winter, they constructed drainage and sewer lines.
Orticelle said on Thursday the Department of Building and Planning has new permits ready for Barile to collect, which will allow crews to lay the foundations for five of the project’s buildings.
Doty said Barile wants to get started on the foundations “almost immediately” when the snow melts, although at this time the Peaks construction schedule is on hold.