LAKE PLACID - Parking questions have been remedied, but questions remain with the grading of the driveway and stormwater management at the site of the former National Sports Academy building at 821 Mirror Lake Drive.
Local businessman Paolo Magro presented again in front of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board at their regularly scheduled meeting last week, updating the board on engineering plans at the 28,000-square-foot site of his proposed 42-room boutique hotel, the Lake Placid Inn.
Magro explained to Joint Review Board Chairman Bill Hurley how his company plans to solve a lack of parking space by assigning parking spots to guests when they check in. The primary problem with parking at the site, Magro explained, is the tight quarters in the front of the property. He explained to Hurley how the hotel will place guests with "compact" cars in the front.
Local businessman Paolo Magro, standing, presents plans for the Lake Placid Inn, a 42-room boutique hotel in the former National Sports Academy building on Mirror Lake Drive in Lake Placid, to the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board last week. At right is Magro’s business partner Enzo DiCiocco. (News photo — Antonio Olivero)
At a previous board meeting in December, the first time Magro presented to the board, Hurley said the proposal for around 30 parking spots on site met state code, though he was unsure if it is practical.
"When we know of a weekend event, it's going to be busy, we know anyone with a small car, put up front," Magro said. "Sold-out rooms? Put anyone with small compact cars up front. The front desk will ask."
Magro added that he still intends to purchase up to a dozen parking permits from the village for his customers to use, though it is not a requirement at this stage for his plans to meet code.
"It's my choice," he said.
Since Magro brought his plans to the board three months ago, Hurley and the board have maintained that traffic flow and stormwater issues remain due to the steep grading of the driveway to Parkside Drive. Hurley has described Magro's predicament as "trying to do a nice thing on a really tiny postage stamp."
Magro is proposing to take the back parking lot down quite a bit, as he said the elevation difference from Riverside Drive to Parkside Drive is around 12 feet at its most extreme. He added that his engineer, whom Hurley asked for but was not present at the meeting, had put together a plan to reduce the driveway's slope to an approvable grade.
Magro's business partner Enzo DiCiocco again accompanied him at the review board meetings.
Magro also said he had spoken to the general manager of the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Steve Kroha, about constructing a new retaining wall between the former school and the brewery. He added that he met with Mayor Craig Randall, village Electric Superintendent Peter Kroha and the village highway and water departments the week prior. Magro said the discussion centered around relocating fire hydrants and electrical poles while also putting some wires underground.
"Basically, that corner has to be everything brand-new," Magro said. "That corner will come very, very nice, not just for us but also for the community."
"They've been trying to do that around Mirror Lake for 15 years," Hurley responded.
"We need the next step to be you spending a lot of money with your engineer," Hurley added. "I think you are working in the right direction on the land. And if your engineer, if he can prove that he can take 6 feet (of slope) in that stretch and 7 feet in that stretch (of the driveway), and make it all work and control the water and get that retaining wall between you and the Pub and Brewery to work out, if it can be engineered and not at an exorbitant cost to you, then we are working in the right direction. Waiting on you."
Magro and his Magdi Lake Drive LLC purchased the property this summer for $1.13 million. In Saranac Lake, Magro also owns Little Italy Pizzeria, Nonna Fina restaurant, the Saranac Lake Shopping Center, the Wholesale Furniture (former Sears) building and its adjacent parking lot that he leases for public use. In Lake Placid, he owns the Lake Placid Inn at 2050 Saranac Ave., a renovated former motel that is now vacation suites.
He bought the NSA property after a sale to a different development group, Walnut Woods-Parkside Inn, fell through early last year.
The Walnut Woods-Parkside Inn sale was delayed for months, largely due to concerns from local officials and other business owners about the limited amount of parking. The Joint Review Board also expressed concern including traffic circulation patterns, snow storage and removal, screening of the parking area, stormwater management control and green space.
NSA filed for bankruptcy in January 2015, and the school closed on June 1 of that year after several years of sagging enrollment and debt. The building was put on the market for roughly $1.4 million. The private school for winter sport student-athletes included 23 Olympians in its 38 years. Last year's sale to Magro enabled NSA to shed some of its outstanding debt to lenders and contractors.