Seeking a definitive solution to the perennial problem, Blais said if grant funding is available, Lake George Village will collaborate with the Town of Lake George and other potential partners, such as Warren County, to purchase two aging lodging properties and build a dormitory for J-1 Visa holders or some other form of workforce housing on the site.
The site meets Lake George’s criteria for workforce housing. It is located on Route 9, along the trolley line, removed from residential neighborhoods and large enough to house at least one hundred people.
It could also accommodate event parking, which would not only service the village’s Festival Commons but generate revenues to offset the costs of the purchase.
According to Dan Barusch, the Director of Planning and Zoning for both the Town and the Village of Lake George, the costs of purchasing both properties is roughly $2.5 million.
Demolition of the buildings might cost another $1 million, said Blais.
If Lake George is awarded a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Grant, which it has applied for, the costs of the purchasing the property, demolishing existing buildings and constructing new ones could be met, said Barusch.
Neither the Town nor the Village believe their resources are sufficient to pay for the entire project without help, said Blais.
“The Lake George Village Board is very reluctant to put money into this project without a substantial amount of grant funding,” said Blais.
Blais said the Village and the Town plan to hold a public information meeting on the proposal at the earliest possible date.
Lake George Village is not alone in finding it a challenge to provide housing for summer workers.
A July Pew Charitable Trusts report states that seasonal economies with high housing costs are at a disadvantage when attracting workers.
Workforce housing is not a new idea. Lake George Village hosted a similar facility in the 1950s, Blais recalled.
And others are creating it.
Windham Mountain, the Catskills ski resort, has made a multi-million-dollar investment in workforce housing, purchasing and renovating a 15-room motel.