Financing secured for second Potsdam hotel; facility would include 85 rooms, restaurant, pool in Lehman Park
Friday, December 7, 2012 - 5:35 pm

Lehman Park, at right in the foreground of the photo, is across Pierrepont Avenue from SUNY Potsdam, which owns it. It could be the site of a hotel, restaurant and conference center.

POTSDAM – Just weeks after plans for construction of a Hampton Inn were announced, the outgoing president of SUNY Potsdam today said financing has been secured for an 85-room mid-scale hotel across the street from his campus.

College officials say a “private partner has secured financing for an 85-room mid-scale hotel, with a restaurant, lounge, pool and fitness center” at Lehman Park.

If either project comes to fruition, it will accomplish a decades-long goal by local leaders to build a chain hotel within the village.

“Representatives from several major hotel franchises have visited the site, and are excited about the possibility of extending their brands to Potsdam. This major chain facility would be managed by the private partner/investor, and offer lodging to the numerous families, potential students, visiting faculty, athletic teams, guest speakers, artists, tourists and visitors who travel to the area throughout the year,” officials said.

The hotel would be part of the Raquette Village at Lehman Park economic development proposal, which SUNY Potsdam Pres. John F. Schwaller said is a key priority for his remaining tenure on campus before he steps down at the end of July.

And Clarkson University Pres. Tony Collins has told SUNY Administration that the plan fits right in with the strategies of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which he co-chairs.

The public promotion of the Lehman Park plan comes on the heels of a proposal by a private developer to build the 95-room Hampton Inn on Market Street south of McDonalds. The plan is only in its preliminary stages, according to the developer, Andy Patel of Visions Hotels in Corning..

The Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal is part of the 2010 SUNY Potsdam Facilities Master Plan's goal to “utilize the untapped potential of Lehman Park.”

The ambitious proposal comprises several features, according to a statement from SUNY Potsdam, including a hotel and restaurant, “filling a major need for the Potsdam area.”

The college also proposes a combination of 120 townhouse, cottage and apartment-style units “designed for retirees, alumni, employees of the universities, and graduate, married or non-traditional students.”

The plan also includes a conference center that would “accommodate conventions of up to 350 attendees, with expandable meeting rooms and the latest technology, plus a full professional catering kitchen.”

And the plan calls for “enhanced green space” at the now-verdant park, “with a central ‘village green,’ walking paths, picnic areas, and a fully developed waterfront recreation area with boathouse, to enhance the existing facilities. Outdoor pavilions and patio spaces would offer ideal sites for concerts, performances and special events.”

The plan envisions an estimated 73 full- and part-time permanent positions will be created, in addition to dozens of construction jobs. It will generate an estimated $13.6 million in new economic activity for the region each year. The additional short-term impact during construction would add approximately 64 jobs and $23.9 million annually, for four years.

“The Lehman Park proposal has the potential to substantially benefit not only SUNY Potsdam, but also the Village of Potsdam and the entire North Country community," said Dr. Collins. "Given that this project embodies several of the strategies outlined in the North Country Regional Economic Development Council's winning Strategic Plan, and that its impact would benefit the Potsdam community, St. Lawrence County and the region as a whole, I strongly support further exploration of this proposal."

"This priority project, identified in SUNY Potsdam's Facilities Master Plan, fulfills community and economic development visions for our region's future, while also contributing to the college's continued growth. The time is right for SUNY Potsdam to advance this initiative for the good of the Potsdam community, and the North Country as a whole," Dr. Schwaller said. "I believe that this proposal can and will bring energy to our campus and our region, in a public/private partnership that would create lasting jobs and sustained economic impact, while showcasing the natural beauty of the Raquette River."

SUNY Potsdam, through the Potsdam College Foundation, said it “is committed to directing revenue from the conference center and housing complex, and lease income from the hotel/restaurant, directly toward the student experience.”

For more information about the Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal, visit www.potsdam.edu/about/administration/president/nysuny2020.