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Hospital reaches end of life

Building to be razed as town strikes deal for new ORDA offices

The old hospital on Church Street, seen here on Tuesday, April 20, will be demolished to make way for a new state Olympic Regional Development Authority office building. Now owned by the town of North Elba, it opened as the Placid Memorial Hospital in 1951. It was operated as the Adirondack Medical Center from 1991 to 2019, when it was vacated by Adirondack Health and other tenants as offices and the part-time emergency room moved to the new Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center on Old Military Road. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — On Friday, April 23, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority will be asking its board of directors for permission to spend approximately $23.1 million to demolish the former Placid Memorial Hospital, to build an office building in its place, and to upgrade the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center ahead of the 2023 World University Games.

Local officials have talked about this project for years, but the first public indication that ORDA had concrete plans to move forward with it came last week when the authority released its agenda for its next board of directors meeting. After the agenda was released, the authority declined to share the full resolution the board would be voting on until 72 hours prior to the board’s meeting.

The full resolution, released this week shows that ORDA is planning to hire a contractor to first abate any “hazardous materials” in the old hospital building on Church Street. Last year, the North Elba Town Council authorized a $5,600 payment to KAS — a company based in Plattsburgh and Williston, Vermont — to evaluate how much asbestos would need to be removed from the building before it could be demolished. The town currently owns the property.

After the hospital is demolished, ORDA plans to ask contractors to procure and build a steel frame for a new ORDA administration building; do site work and utility service installations; install a fire protection system; install piping for water and sewer service; install heating and air conditioning equipment; and set up electric service and conduit systems to power the building.

ORDA is also planning to ask a contractor to install new siding on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, which is owned by ORDA but operated by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The contractor would also be asked to install new walls and ceilings, windows and doors, plus upgrade ventilation systems and replace the fire protection system.

If approved by the ORDA Board of Directors, all of this work would be done by November 2022, ahead of the 2023 World University Games, according to ORDA documents. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center dorm will be Team USA’s headquarters and serve as an athlete’s village for the 2023 World University Games.

ORDA’s board of directors are expected to vote on whether to authorize this project — and the anticipated $23.1 million price tag — at 1 p.m. Friday, April 23. Anyone can watch the meeting virtually by visiting https://youtu.be/A353zVWxKcc at the time of the meeting.

The old hospital began as the Placid Memorial Hospital, which opened as a 50-bed facility on Feb. 4, 1951. It included basic surgical, emergency, maternity and other related departments. The maternity ward closed in 1972.

The building replaced the Lake Placid General Hospital on Lake Placid Club Drive, which was located across the street from the tennis courts. It was torn down in 1978 and in its place was built the Winterset Inn, in time for the 1980 Winter Olympics, which later became the National Sports Academy and is now the Lake Placid Inn hotel.

Placid Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward closed in 1972. Placid Memorial and the General Hospital of Saranac Lake merged on Jan. 1, 1991, to become Adirondack Medical Center, billed at the time as “one hospital in two locations.”

It was operated as the Adirondack Medical Center from 1991 to 2019, when it was vacated by Adirondack Health and other tenants as offices and the part-time emergency room moved to the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center on Old Military Road.

(Editor Andy Flynn contributed to this story.)