Homestead progressing with Fawn Valley housing project

Logs are seen at rest here at the Fawn Valley development this fall. Homestead Development Corporation President Steve Sama said in December that logging is complete on the construction site. (Provided photo — Homestead Development Corporation)

LAKE PLACID — The new year is here, and more housing is on the way for this village.

Three new housing developments in the area — MacKenzie Outlook, the Peaks at Lake Placid and Fawn Valley — are currently under construction, and six homes in Fawn Valley, a development on Wesvalley Road across from Nash and Acorn Streets, are expected to be ready for move-in starting this fall.

The Fawn Valley community, developed by local 501(c)(3) the Homestead Development Corporation, will provide 22 new housing units for sale: six single-family, two-bedroom Cape Cod-style houses and 16 two-bedroom condominiums located within four condo buildings. Three of the houses are expected to be ready by the start of the school year this fall, and another three are due to follow in October.

HDC is run by a board of trustees that includes HDC President Steve Sama, North Elba Town Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi, local real estate agent Whit Bissell, accountant John Huttlinger Jr., former Lake Placid Mayor Jamie Rogers and Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Timothy Seymour, who joined the board on Dec. 13.

Buying Fawn Valley

Sama said the Fawn Valley units are intended for people whose work is essential to Lake Placid — educators, nurses, police officers and town workers, according to Sama’s letter to the editor submitted to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in February 2021.

While the units won’t be considered affordable housing, Sama said they’ll be sold “at cost” and available only to people who make up to 200% of the area median income, or about $147,000. Three of the condos will be sold to people who make 80% or less of the AMI, Sama said in his letter to the editor.

A housing needs assessment study released last year showed that with a target of 50% of the local workforce living within the community, North Elba and Lake Placid have a need for roughly 1,534 “workforce and affordable level” housing units.

Most of that assessed need, 1,013 units, is for people who make less than $35,150 per year. In the study, affordable rent for that income range is defined as less than $879 per month for an apartment and under $123,000 for a house.

The Fawn Valley homes are going for “roughly” $200,000, according to a press release from the HDC, and the condos will sell for around $180,000.

Units will be deed-restricted to always remain owner-occupied and never rented for long-term use or short-term vacation rentals. Sama also said HDC will limit owners’ resale profit to 25% of the home’s appreciated value, plus any HDC-approved improvements the owner has made, to make sure the homes stay reasonably priced. He said HDC will enforce those restrictions.

Building Fawn Valley

Right now on the construction site, Sama said the logging is done and the clearing is nearly done. Next week, workers plan to start installing the water main tap, getting a new road in place and replacing the 100-year-old municipal sewer system there. He said construction will wrap up for the year once the winter weather moves in, and workers plan to resume in the early spring.

The units will be modular, pre-built homes from a company called Simplex Homes. HDC is responsible for creating a foundation for those homes, setting the homes in place, finishing off the siding on the ends of the buildings, putting front portico entries on the outside, and installing two-story back decks. Sama said there’s also some connection work to be done — hooking up plumbing and electricity in the homes to the existing water, sewer and electric services on the site.

The first three homes are expected to arrive next June, and Sama said they’ll be move-in ready by the start of the school year. The second three homes are due to arrive next August, to be ready by October. The condos will arrive in 2023, with the first building of four condos to arrive in June of that year. Sama said that every six weeks after that, another building of four condos will arrive. He said it takes about that long to finish off a building of condos.

He said HDC has experienced some construction supply chain issues, but that everything is going “so far, so good” and running on schedule and budget.

The front end of the project is costing $400,000, according to Sama. HDC was awarded a $125,000 grant for the development from the North Elba Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund in November, and Sama said that money is a “big help” in covering the initial construction costs. The rest of the funds are either donated or are “loans from individual investors with bridge financing secured from local banks,” according to HDC’s website. Sama said the land used to develop Fawn Valley was donated by the Bissell family.

Applying to buy

Applications to buy a home in Fawn Valley are now available for people to submit. HDC is accepting applications on a rolling basis and will review them at the beginning of each month, according to the HDC press release. Sama said the review process for home applications will start the first week of January. People can find the application on HDC’s website, www.homesteadadk.org. People who are interested in condos can apply now, too.

Sama said HDC has received 12 applications in two weeks from people in the Lake Placid community. HDC has a subcommittee — what Kilburn Politi calls the “eligibility subcommittee” — dedicated to selecting the future homeowners. That subcommittee includes Sama, Kilburn Politi and Community Development Director Haley Breen. Sama and Kilburn Politi said they’ll rank the applicants according to early interest, community involvement and financial eligibility. Kilburn Politi said the eligibility committee wants to establish some kind of “expression of interest” between prospective buyers and the HDC in the early stages of development so that people can walk into their new homes as soon as they’re complete.

If you’re going to fill out an application for a home or condo in Fawn Valley, don’t skimp on the open-ended “Tell us about yourself” question. Sama and Kilburn Politi noted that’s where applicants can shine by describing what they do in the community and why they want to be a part of Fawn Valley. Kilburn Politi said that how long an applicant has lived or worked in Lake Placid is a “big one,” too.

Sama also said they’ll consider prospective Lake Placid workers. He mentioned that two teachers who recently applied to work in the Lake Placid Central School District and “aced” the interview couldn’t take their positions because they couldn’t find local housing.

He said that the application process has been “striking” so far because he’s seen some brilliant applicants who work for the community but don’t make very much money.

“It’s tough to make a living here,” he said.

He said HDC wants to make a difference in that regard. The corporation plans to tackle more developments after Fawn Valley wraps up at the end of 2023, Sama said, and he’s looking at some other properties in Lake Placid where HDC can establish affordable housing for essential workers. He didn’t want to reveal the locations he’s eyeing, but said, “I can assure you that they are real, as real as the one that we have (at Farm Valley).”

He hopes HDC can provide a template for others who want to create affordable housing in the area.

“We’re just making a dent here, we’re not really solving a problem,” he said. “And we kind of hope that we can be an inspiration to others to do this as well.”

Kilburn Politi said Sama’s perseverance in this project, including securing the HDC’s non-profit status in May, has made Fawn Valley possible. She said he deserves credit for that.

“He like, never toots his own horn,” she said.