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.
By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – Colton native and Potsdam businessman Lowell Warner says he is confident that he can obtain $6 million needed for an 85-room hotel and restaurant in SUNY Potsdam’s Lehman Park is obtainable.
The proposal includes an 85-room mid-scale hotel and restaurant, 120 housing units, a conference center with full kitchen, and outdoor features.
This announcement from SUNY Potsdam comes just weeks after plans for construction of a Hampton Inn were announced.
Warner, whose company Titus Management Group, LLC owns residential rental properties, is the main collaborator from outside the college for a multiphase plan for the park across from the SUNY Potsdam campus.
Private developer Andy Patel of Visions Hotels in Corning has announced he would like to build a 95-room Hampton Inn on Market Street south of McDonalds. The plan is only in its preliminary stages, according to the Patel.
Warner said he has met with potential investors, including local banks, and is confident that the financing for the hotel-restaurant part of the project, about $6 million, will be available.
“It’s lining up very nicely,” Warner said.
College officials say the facility would include a restaurant, lounge, pool and fitness center.
If either hotel project comes to fruition, it will accomplish a decades-long goal by local leaders to build a chain hotel within the village.
Warner said that “two different brands” of hotels have visited and both have approved the site. This is a preliminary step to developing the site.
“These are top-level, very nice mid-scale brands,” Warner said.
Warner, a SUNY Potsdam graduate, has an MBA from Clarkson University and more than 10 years of experience in financial management, business development, and commercial real estate.
“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,” college officials said.
"This is very exciting for me, as a SUNY Potsdam alumnus, to work with a great team at my alma mater. To bring a project to Potsdam that will have such a positive economic impact on the greater community is an amazing opportunity," Warner 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.
He and Clarkson University Pres. Tony Collins have told SUNY Administration that the plan fits right in with the strategies of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which Collins co-chairs.
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.”
In addition to the hotel development, 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.”
An estimated 73 full- and part-time jobs will be created, in addition to dozens of construction jobs, according to the plan. 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, according to college officials.
“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 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.”
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’s news release said the plan for revenue is that it will go “directly toward the student experience.”
For more information about the Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal, visit www.potsdam.edu/about/administration/president/nysuny2020.