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Decision coming soon on Cell Science housing

LAKE PLACID — A months-long review process for the town of North Elba’s largest proposed housing complex in some time may be coming to a close.

The Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board is expected to vote soon on whether to approve local developer Joseph Barile’s plans to build The Peaks at Lake Placid, a 355-unit housing complex at the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center property on Barn Road.

It was nearly one year ago that the plans for this property first became public after the North Elba Town Council agreed to temporarily hold the exclusive option to buy the property, paving the way for a developer to take on this project and eventually build housing there. By the time the plans became public last year, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism had already developed conceptual designs that look somewhat similar to Barile’s current submitted site plan. For the past several months, the project has been moving through the permitting and review process.

The next Joint Review Board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3.

This project is the largest development to come before the Joint Review Board in some time — perhaps ever. It’s one of three housing projects in the works right now, and one of two complexes that are intended to be used first as athlete housing for the 2023 World University Games before they’re converted to long-term residences.

The other projects include a 60-unit apartment building on Wesvalley Road, under development by Ardsley-based Regan Development, and a 22-unit complex, also on Wesvalley Road, under development by the Homestead Development Corporation — an organization that includes local construction manager Steve Sama, North Elba town Councilwoman Emily Politi, local real estate agent Whit Bissell, former Lake Placid mayor and current mayoral candidate Jamie Rogers, and accountant John Huttlinger Jr.

Barile has described his complex as “mid-level workforce housing.” The Peaks would include 265 apartments for rent and 90 condominiums. Of the 265 apartments, 37 would be rented at a price considered affordable to someone making 120% of Essex County’s area median income, which would mean rents up to about $1,100 per month based on the county’s 2020 AMI of $73,700. The other 228 apartments would be rented at a price affordable to someone who makes up to 150% of the county’s AMI.

Units at the Peaks would likely be rented at a higher rate than those at the other complexes but would feature more amenities, such as a clubhouse, fitness center, swimming pool, day care center, recreational fields and underground parking garages for the residents to use.

Barile’s complex is also expected to largely run off of green energy. Barile has repeatedly touted this project as one of the largest residential green energy projects in the country. He has said his goal is an 80% reduction of the carbon footprint. Plans for the project include many solar panels. Also, a large portion of the property, about 25 of 34.5 acres, would be left as green space.