In Their Opinion...

Editorial: Proposals reflect potential

Proposals for three major business developments have people around the North Country feeling optimistic.

Two of the projects involve hotel development in Saranac Lake, and the third would place a new manufacturing plant in Plattsburgh.

First came Malone developer Chris LaBarge of CAL Enterprises and Lake Flower Lodging LLC with a plan to build a five-story waterfront complex on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake. He proposes a $15 million to $18 million development to be constructed where three smaller lodges — Lake Flower Inn, Adirondack Motel and Lakeside Motel — now exist. The hotel would sport banquet and meeting rooms, swimming pools, a spa and restaurant.

LaBarge is making a name for himself around the North Country, as a lodging mogul, as he is also a partner in Branch Commercial Development, which owns the Holiday Inn and Suites in the Town of Malone, and he is developing a $4 million Microtel Hotel in the Village of Malone.

Then came more good news for Saranac Lake, which has sometimes suffered in comparison to the more urbane Lake Placid.

Fred B. Roedel II, a partner in Roedel Companies and president of ROK Builders of Wilton, N.H., plans to buy the impressive Hotel Saranac structure in downtown Saranac Lake and renovate it for 86 lodging rooms, with a rejuvenated ballroom and added retail space.

For many years, Paul Smith’s College owned the site, which was operated by students in its Hotel and Restaurant Management Program. The property was purchased in 2007 by Sewa Arora, which is now selling it to Roedel.

The project is expected to cost $13 million, with some of the money coming from Roedel Companies and a portion being sought through North Country Regional Economic Development Council funding.

The third proposal of note is a plan by the Malone-based Asept Pak to open a pharmaceutical plant, to be called SterRx, at the former Pfizer facility in Plattsburgh. Located on what used to be Plattsburgh Air Force Base, SterRx is already setting up equipment and could be up and running by early 2014.

Development in that 50,000-square-foot site could produce 80 jobs within two years, company officials said. Asept Pak is also looking to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for some funding. And it is seeking training support from Clinton Community College.

While all three of these plans are just that, at this point, they seem extremely promising. If developed as proposed, they will bring jobs and tax money to the region.

The new hotels would add to available tourist amenities. And if Franklin County is able to secure a 5 percent occupancy fee — an idea we strongly endorse — the economic benefits will be even higher.

Just the fact that developers see big-league potential in the North Country is exciting and affirming. We wish them success as they move their plans forward.