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ORDA offices to replace ex-hospital; training center to be upgraded

Concept art of new ORDA office building (Provided image — Olympic Regional Development Authority)

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors Friday, April 23, authorized a $23.1 million project that will include the demolition of the old Adirondack Medical Center building on Church Street, construction of a new office building for ORDA staff and updates to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center dorms.

All are expected to be complete by the 2023 Winter World University Games, which will be held in Lake Placid on Jan. 12-22 of that year.

ORDA will lease the hospital property from the town of North Elba with a 50-year agreement, rather than purchase it, town officials said in an April 23 press release.

In the past, the town had considered using the hospital property, possibly for a day care or community center. After it became vacant, the building has served as temporary space for the North Elba Christmas Fund and firefighter training. Last year, the town council even authorized a payment to $5,600 payment to KAS — a company based in Plattsburgh and Williston, Vermont — to evaluate how much asbestos needs to be removed from the building before it could be demolished. In a press release, town Councilor Richard Cummings said the town is still looking at other sites for things like a day care or a community center.

The full board resolution for the agreement shows that ORDA is planning to hire a contractor to first abate “hazardous materials” in the old hospital building, which originally opened in 1951 as Placid Memorial Hospital.

Housing at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, seen here on April 20, will be upgraded. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

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

ORDA CEO Michael Pratt told board members on April 23 that the goal is for ORDA’s staff to be moved into the new office building next fall, and for the updated dorm wing at the training center to be completed around that same time.

“The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is receiving a lot of pressure from the national governing bodies of sport to utilize these new facilities and that training center facility,” Pratt said.

After the dorm renovations are complete, the training center in Lake Placid will be Team USA’s headquarters and serve as an athletes’ village for the 2023 Winter World University Games.

Concept art of renovated U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center dorms (Provided image — Olympic Regional Development Authority)

Pratt noted that USA Nordic, the governing body for the nation’s ski jumping and Nordic combined teams, would be moving people to the training center next spring, but without those people, there are already 78 full-time employees, 57 part-time employees and seven sports medicine contractors working there.

Board member Betty Little, a former state senator, said the facility is “an economic benefit to the entire community” because athletes and staff spend “a lot of money here.”

“If we have all the up-to-date venues, we can have that place fuller more often than not,” she said.

Board member Art Lussi commended Pratt for his work with the community on this project. ORDA had not shared specifics about this project with the public before this week. Lussi told the News after the meeting that he was referring to presentations Pratt made to the town council.

Lussi said he sees this project as a thoughtful one that includes updates that are “long overdue.”

The former Placid Memorial Hospital is a “very special place,” he said. “I think I might have been born there. … I know that it’s definitely needed some serious help for a long time. It makes sense to create this zone for administrative staff for ORDA and more modern, up-to-date athlete housing for the training center.”

Arthur Serge Lussi was indeed born at Placid Memorial Hospital, the son of Serge and Caroline (Draper) Lussi, on April 21, 1961, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise archives. He turned 60 years old two days before the ORDA board meeting.

(Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn contributed to this report.)