With a Marriott hotel likely to be built nearby, the owner of the Surfside Hotel in Lake George Village is seeking to build a new six-story building that would incorporate a two-level parking garage with four stories of modern rooms on top. Since the existing zoning code for Surfside’s Commercial Resort zone allows only three-story buildings a maximum of 40 feet high — and no parking garages — Salim Amersi is seeking zoning variances. A hearing on his requests is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 2 at the village hall.
The owner of Surfside Hotel, situated on Lake George, is seeking a variance of village zoning laws to build a six-story, 72-feet-tall structure in a zone that now allows three stories maximum.
This request by Salim Amersi is to be considered in a hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 2 before the village Zoning Board of Appeals. The meeting is to be held in the village offices.
The structure, to incorporate a two-story parking garage with four stories on top containing 60 hotel rooms, would replace the motel’s central building that extends toward the lake from just behind the hotel office. The existing central building houses 50 rooms.
Amersi said Sept. 25 that the project has an estimated cost of $7 million to $8 million.
The western side of the building — facing Canada St. — would be five and a half stories high off the ground, as the first floor of the parking garage would be set into a slope.
Amersi’s application cites that the hotel needs the new modern rooms as well as on-site parking — and complying with the 40-feet maximum would require him to build a fully underground garage — at a price of $2 million — which would not be financially feasible.
In addition to the height extension, Amersi is seeking a Zoning Use Variance, as the village does not allow parking garages to be built in the Commercial Resort zone in which the hotel is situated.
Surfside is between O’Sullivan’s Motel and The Georgian Resort, which is across Canada St. from Lake George High School.
Citizen activist Joanne Gavin, who issued emails Sept. 25 about the proposed zoning variance, said the building was far too tall, would obstruct views and would change the character of downtown. She said that the recent village zoning law changes — which include extending the three-story maximum to six stories on the west side of Canada Street — purposefully excluded the east side, to retain views and the preserve the character of the village.
“It’s ridiculous for the Zoning Board of Appeals to even consider this proposal,” she said.
Amersi, however said Wednesday that the new six-story structure would not obstruct views for adjacent properties, and that there are no existing views of the lake from Canada Street that would be blocked by the six-story structure.
“No one will lose an existing view of the lake,” he said, noting that the six-story building would also not be visible from people in boats on the lake, due to the angle of view.
Amersi continued that Surfside needed upgraded rooms to continue to be financially viable, particularly considering that a new Marriott Courtyard was likely to be built across the street with 120 new rooms, and other major hotel chains are also seeking to build — and these new developments would cause Surfside to lose market share unless their rooms were upgraded.
“People want modern, larger, top quality rooms,” he said.
And with those new rooms, sufficient on-site parking would be necessary, which meant larger and more spaces to comply with regulations — which would require a two-story parking garage.
“We’re very tight on parking at this point,” he said.
Amersi added that the new building would be modern and include a 25-feet deck on the top two floors, complete with plantings and furnishings.
“It will be a really nice contemporary building with character — and it will be a little bit retro,” he said, noting that the building may pick up some design cues from the hotel’s iconic neon sign, which has been mentioned in various publications for its 1950s chic.