Morning Read: A tough sell for Big Tupper resort?

As the Adirondack Park Agency takes up deliberations this morning on the Adirondack Club and Resort project, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting that many regional real estate experts remain skeptical about the development.

Lake Placid-based real estate broker Margie Philo told the Enterprise she thinks there’s a viable second-home market in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, but that’s not necessarily the case in Tupper Lake.

“Personally, I think they’re going to have a lot of trouble and it’s going to be very slow going at the prices I hear quoted, if that in fact is true, for second homes off of the water in a community that is quite quiet during really nine months of the year and doesn’t have the infrastructure – restaurants, venues and things people enjoy in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid,” Philo said.

“I think it will get better as the market improves, but I wouldn’t buy a ticket on that one.”

In my reporting, I’ve found that widespread skepticism remains — even among some pro-development folks — over the business model for the resort.

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31 Comments on “Morning Read: A tough sell for Big Tupper resort?”

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  1. Gary says:

    I agree with Margie’s remarks. I look at Tupper Lake and I look at Malone and see many similarities in terms of infrastructure. One big difference is Malone is not inside the blue line. Several years ago Titus Ski Mt.built a model home on the side of the mountain in hopes of future development. Much of their business comes from Canada. To my knowledge that home is still vacant today.

  2. Walker says:

    Uh, Gary, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake ARE inside the blue line, and they’re doing just fine. (But I have real doubts about your observation that Tupper and Malone have “many similarities in terms of infrastructure.”)

    As for your supposed vacant-for-years house on Titus Mountain, seems a safe bet that it’s over-priced.

  3. jeff says:

    Would Lake Placid survive as well without ORDA? If Tupper can’t develop, why should Lake Placid? Cut the purse strings. A cottage 30 minutes from Lake Placid for half the price…. what a sales pitch.

    But I can’t support real estate development funded by any tax breaks. If it can’t stand on its merits let it fall.

  4. Walker says:

    Jeff, real estate supported by tax breaks is as American as apple pie. You’ve heard of the home mortgage tax deduction?

  5. Gary says:

    Uh, Walker, don’t put words in my mouth, especially yours! I did not say LP and SL were not within the blue line. I said Malone was outside the blue line. Obviously my definition of infrastructure is somewhat different than yours. I was basing mine along the lines stated by Margi. For your information the home exists! “As for your supposed vacant-for-years house”

  6. Gary says:

    Walker go to LaValley …”NO, IT’S NOT WATERFRONT – Rare Opportunity! Step-out your front door, put your skis on, and head for the base lodge. 3-bedrooms with 2-full baths including a jacuzzi tub in the master suite. The Living/Dining/Kitchen area is open with vaulted ceiling and stone fireplace. Done in the Great Camp tradition, with wainscot on the walls, pine ceilings, and trimmed with cedar log. The interior staircase is highlighted with logs and twigs, while the outside porch is constructed with large cedar logs, copper caps, and twig work. Salmon River is within an easy walk, and a 36-hole Trent Jones designed Golf Course is only 2 miles away. Priced at $195,000!”

  7. Paul says:

    “Uh, Gary, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake ARE inside the blue line, and they’re doing just fine.”

    Not really, many places there are festering on the market for years. And yes they are obviously overpriced based on the market but there is a limit to how low you can go before it makes sense to just not sell.

    But if they don’t want to sell at market prices then take the place off the market.

    Many of these are second homes so you have a different dynamic than you have in the primary market.

  8. Walker says:

    Paul, many places outside the Blue Line are festering on the market for years. That’s my point– I don’t think you can make a case for real estate being hurt by being within the Blue Line if you compare it to similarly rural North Country properties.

  9. Paul says:

    This also depends on who you talk to. Many of the local realtors are not very good at marketing (some are) so their input maybe based on their inability to market want they have to sell.

  10. Paul says:

    Walker, I agree with you on that point. I just would not characterize the SL and LP real estate market as “just fine” at this point . But I guess if you mean just fine relative to the overall market that makes sense.

    I think that the main thing is not inside or outside the blueline but where for either. On the water, good. In the woods near Tupper Lake, maybe not so good.

    I don’t think the massage or the shooting range will make up for the black flies. You not only have a nice view on the water, but you have a breeze to keep the bugs at bay.

  11. Walker says:

    Uh, yeah, Gary, you didn’t say that S.L. and L.P. are outside the Blue Line, but you did say that the big difference between Malone and Tupper Lake is that the latter is inside the Blue Line. So it seems reasonable to point out communities inside the Blue Line where real estate is doing pretty well. lists 18 restaurants for Tupper and 26 for Malone, so I wouldn’t call their restaurant “infrastructure” all that similar. And if you look at real estate prices in Malone, you’ll find it is a bargain-hunter’s delight.

    I just get real tired of seeing people try to make the case that the Park is bad for real estate prices. I think you could find a lot of places, especially north of the Blue Line, that would almost certainly better off if they were inside it.

  12. Paul says:

    Walker, If Gary gives and example of a place near Malone (outside the blue-line) that has festered on the market how is that “making the case” that the Park is bad for real estate prices???

  13. Paul says:

    Development restrictions inside the Adirondack park have certainly helped with values on things like waterfront homes. One place that I own on the water that was built in the 40’s could never be built where it is now. That law passed in 1973 certainly caused the value of that particular piece of real estate to go up and keep going up. That is maybe why many of the second home owners that were involved with the formation of the APA were so enthusiastic at the time.

    Once the waterfront is gone then the second home buyers turn to the places in town (lots of this activity in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid over the past decade). This then leads to the increase in real estate value that Walker describes. This also leads to pricing out many of the folks that can’t afford to play the game.

  14. Walker says:

    Gary, Paul, my bad! I had it in my head that Titus Mountain was inside the Blue Line. Sorry! I don’t get up that way much.

    Paul, as for rising village prices pricing out the locals, it seems to me that anyone who is willing to put some sweat equity into fixing up a more or less run down property can still do very well. There are some genuinely cheap places in Saranac Lake that could make very nice houses, fixed up.

  15. Paul says:

    Walker, It is an easy mistake that is pretty close to the Blue Line.

    I agree with you on finding a few good deals. Should we fix them up and sell them to some of the folks from NJ I met recently that were looking for a place in Saranac Lake as a get away?

    My point is that prices are generally very high in some of those places.

  16. Paul says:

    Some of the local realtors are partially to blame for the messed up market in the area. They should not allow clients to list property way above the market value. That practice poisons the inventory and further softens the market. This practice of leaving inventory that has no hope of moving on the market just hurts everyone trying to buy or sell.

  17. Brian Mann says:

    Paul – Realtors generally push sellers to go as low with price as they possibly can. The reason is that realtors make their money only when homes sell. A lot of the real estate brokers in the Adirondacks are frustrated by the unwillingness of sellers in the region to discount their homes. It’s meant a lot of housing stock sitting for long periods on the market. So…chalk this one up to hopeful homeowners, not cynical realtors…

    –Brian, NCPR

  18. Walker says:

    “Should we fix them up and sell them to some of the folks from NJ…?”

    I really think one could make a decent living doing this kind of work. Wouldn’t be exactly easy money, but it’s a job, and you’d be your own boss. A real top candidate is a foreclosure on Glenwood Road that’s listed at $89,900. Sixteen rooms, 4200 square feet, built in 1890.

  19. Paul says:

    Brian, If an owner is unwilling to list their property at a reasonable price to move than the realtor should walk away. If you want to list your home and have it sit on the market then do it yourself. I am talking about houses listed by realtors that have been on the market forever. That is the fault of both the realtor and the seller.

    Their is no point for a realtor to take an unrealistic listing yet many realtors in the area do it all the time. Very unprofessional in my opinion. It is their job to convince the seller of what a reasonable price is based on com-parables if they can’t do it don’t take the listing it only poisons the market like I said.

  20. Paul says:

    “I really think one could make a decent living doing this kind of work. ”

    Walker many people do.

  21. Paul says:

    Brian, are you listening to this webcast…

    It is like they are teaching or asking each other about the law and the agency. Is there going to be a rational discussion of the project?

  22. zubrow says:

    Gary, Walker, Paul. The ski in ski out house at Titus was built by and is owned by Jim Lavalley of Lavalley realestate. There were 2 houses built in 2005 and went on the market for about $350000. One may have sold recently for way less and now the one left is listed for $195000. Lavalley can’t sell these units but somehow thinks the ACR properties will sell for half a million and up? Give me a break, in Tupper Lake?

  23. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Speaking as someone who has been around the building business in the Adirondacks for some time, my observation is that the big boom that happened from 2002 to about 2008 is done. We are at or below the background level of development in the Park. My business depends on construction so in some ways I’m happy to see building going on. But I also have to be realistic and I look at the proposed development as being unlikely ever to amount to much even if it is approved.

    The reality is that, at the moment, almost everyone who has the money to buy a vacation home already has one. I think I see a trend in the future for people deciding that buying a vacation home or condo is just not worth having their money tied up. You can take a lot of vacations for $200,000. Anywhere you want.

  24. Mervel says:

    I don’t know, drive through Malone drive through Tupper, Malone is actually a better looking village, for what that is worth which is not much. Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are in a totally different league.

    I think this development may be an attempt to raise the bar for the village. I think it will fail and that is why foxman has been putting it off hoping for a recovery in the housing/land market and that will keep his lenders happy.

    But it is HIS risk that is the point of the market, which is why it should not be the taxpayers risk.

  25. Mervel says:

    I mean I hope he proves me wrong it is his money and his investors money not mine. Unless of course we are subsidizing this scheme of his then all bets are off then every yokel like me who does not know what we are talking about gets a say.

  26. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    If anyone happened to catch the discussion yesterday with regard to the PILOT, this thing is a scheme and certainly one riding on the backs of the public.

    And I totally agree with Knuckle with regard to second home purchases. The boom is over and the wealthy (let’s be honest, if you can afford a second home that costs in excess of $500,000, you’re wealthy) have already bought their second or third home.

    Also, I have nothing against Tupper Lake ( I happen to think it’s a nice community) but what is the draw of buying one of these overpriced houses, exactly? The small ski resort? The marina on the Lake which you most likely won’t even own actual frontage on? Why Tupper when you can have actual waterfront property on any number of other lakes inside the Blue Line? Look at the inventory of lakefront homes currently on the market within the Park. Many, many homes with actual frontage. I just don’t see how the developers can pull off the sales numbers they need to make this thing work.

  27. Big Burly says:

    The market for this development is not North America — at least not the primary target. For folks who have not traveled outside our wonderful country, it is hard to understand the relative safety and security we offer.
    To not get that there are at least 750 families on this planet with the means to purchase land and build or have built their dream home, nestled in one of the most beautiful places on earth, protected and safe from the economic and resulting social upheavals that US media doesn’t report, is to have your head in the sand.
    For all those folks who question the need for incentives, it’s all about getting needed capital up front. Today’s bankers have no incentives to take on risk — they are penalized if they do under the latest laws passed by the US Congress. A PILOT arrangement may not be the way to go for any of the players.

  28. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Big Burly,

    True, but the same benefits of living within the park you mention are offered at various other areas within the Blue Line yet they’ve been on the market for months and years. Some of which are comparatively cheaper and sit on waterfront property the purchaser will actually own.

  29. Paul says:

    “The market for this development is not North America — at least not the primary target.”

    This is correct. There are plenty of new millionaires in places like China looking for something to spend their new money on. You never know.

  30. Paul says:

    “Some of which are comparatively cheaper and sit on waterfront property the purchaser will actually own.”

    Clapton, you got that right. This is why I have serious doubts about this project.

  31. Two Cents says:

    Prediction: Foxman will attempt to get as many of the approvals and permits he can for this project, which will make it a more viable package to sell to another developer(s) who has the funds to construct.
    It will only get tougher to get approvals in the future.

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