A Marriott hotel and conference center proposed for downtown Lake George received the approval this week of the Adirondack Park Agency commissioners, as they issued a permit for the development — which has a target completion date of spring 2016. Photo of architect’s rendering by Thom Randall
Plans to develop a six-story upscale Marriott hotel and conference center in downtown Lake George — an initiative anticipated to change the face of the village — were approved last week by the Adirondack Park Agency.
This permit approval granted July 10 by the APA commissioners is considered to be the last substantial hurdle for the project before the 120-room hotel on Canada St. becomes a reality. The development is to include retail shops and a restaurant.
The project, which has sparked controversy over the past year, was approved unanimously by the APA commissioners Thursday after they discussed the project with developer Dave Kenny and his lawyer Jon Lapper for about an hour, APA spokesman Keith McKeever said.
Most of the questions posed by the commissioners were about stormwater management, the visibility of the structure — which was allowed to exceed the APA’s 40-foot height limit by about 30 feet — and whether Lake George Village’s sewer plant could handle the additional sewage from the hotel, which is expected to accommodate an estimated 109,500 guests annually.
McKeever said the APA commissioners followed the APA staff’s recommendation for approval with conditions that address primarily stormwater and visibility concerns, many of which were addressed months ago in the process of complying with requirements set by the village planning board.
“Our staff conditioned the project so it’s consistent with the hamlet,” he said. “We believe the project will bring people and development into the hamlet — with the least impact to the environment,” McKeever said Tuesday.
Lake George Mayor Robert Blais, a long-time proponent of the project, hailed the APA’s permit approval.
“The hotel and convention center will result in increased year-round activity here, which is enormous for the village,” he said, citing that the new jobs to be created. He said that considering Marriott’s reputation and its worldwide influence and advertising, thousands more people would be introduced to the beauty of Lake George and the amenities of the village.
Several environmental organizations have objected to the development based on the additional load on the village sewer plant, and its existing lack of compliance to maximum nitrate levels in its discharge.
The wastewater from the hotel is expected to reach up to 23,600 gallons per day, according to the APA permit. Monday, the village of Lake George approved signing a consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, agreeing to upgrade their municipal sewer treatment plant to remove excess nitrates in the plant’s effluent — an ongoing problem for years.
The APA permit, however, states that the sewer plant has the excess capacity — 250,000 gallons of effluent per day — to properly treat the additional sewage flowing from the hotel and restaurant as determined by a 2012 engineering study of the plant. According to the APA permit, the additional potential sewage from the hotel and restaurant are estimated to be 23,680 gallons per day. The permit also notes that the village has recently been upgrading the efficiency and effective capacity of the plant.
The hotel is to feature stepped roofs, dormers, stone and timber accents and other architectural amenities as required by the village planning board. Such features were added after outcry was voiced by local citizens months ago over how the initial plans had long, blank walls.
The permit requires the hotel to be built with materials bearing colors of earth tones, including green and brown.
The roof of the hotel, permitted to built up to 72 feet high, is to feature a landscaped rooftop garden for guests to enjoy a view of the lake.
All structures that exceed 40 feet in height within hamlets in the Adirondack Park are required to acquire an APA permit. Anticipating this hotel development last year, the village board voted last year to increase the maximum allowed height for buildings in various areas downtown from three stories to six.
All outdoor lights on the hotel are to be shielded so their light is directed downward, not into the sky, nor toward the lake or neighboring properties. Also, all of the buildings and its equipment are required to be as energy-efficient as feasible.
According to the APA permit, 65 letters were received expressing opinions on the development — 19 in support and 46 in opposition.
Opponents cited concerns such as the hotel being too large and out of character with the village, that it would overburden the sewer plant, views of the lake would be adversely impacted, as well as storm water runoff into Lake George, possible traffic congestion, lack of parking and proximity to the high school.
Letters of support cited how the project would increase tourism and boost local commerce, create a substantial number of quality jobs, lessen the tax burden on residential property owners, prompt new upscale development. Also cited was how the development’s year-round operation would make life in the village more sustainable and pleasant.
The development is to be located across Canada St. from Lake George and about 600 feet from shoreline. The APA permit cites that considering the substantial existing commercial development on the shoreline, the six-story hotel would have minimal visual impact.
The 18-page document notes that the developers have responded to the concerns cited by citizens.
The permit cites that the development will create 20 full-time and 10 part-time jobs for the hotel, and five full-time and five part-time jobs in the restaurant. Kenny said Tuesday that he expected twice that number of full-time employees to be working in the restaurant.
He said he was pleased that the APA staff and commissioners gave the project thorough, objective consideration.
“We put a lot of time and effort into the plans, and we hope everyone will really enjoy the development,” he said. Kenny continued that the Northway carries a lot of traffic, and many travelers that once drove past Lake George will now be drawn to Lake George due to the availability of a Marriott hotel.
“The APA treated the project very fairly — and they asked a lot of questions to make sure everything was in order,” he said.
Kenny added that Marriott officials were enthusiastic about situating a hotel in Lake George.
“One of the things that impressed us from day one was Marriott’s interest in the site in downtown Lake George — they loved the location.”
Lapper said the APA’s review was thorough, and it formalized a variety of requirements sought by the village planning board.
“This hotel and conference center will help diversify the village’s customer base, he said, noting Marriott’s reputation. “It should help all the other restaurants and stores in the village as well as providing many new jobs.”
He said that work on the project would likely begin this fall beginning with demolition of existing buildings on the 2.1-acre site. Lapper added that the target completion date for the hotel and conference center was spring 2016.