First Columbia LLC, a Latham-based real estate development company, plans on building more townhouses on Bowman Lane for a total of 27 units.
Paul Wos, project director, said the location for the townhouses was chosen based on its vicinity to other amenities. It’s close to Whiteface Mountain, the Wilmington Beach, the Flume, and shops and eateries.
“It’s right in the middle of the action,” he said.
But the townhouses location has also created some controversy.
The lot where the townhouses are being built was originally zoned for 16 units, not 27. First Columbia had to get a variance from the Wilmington Zoning Board of Appeals.
“The zoning board and planning board were very good to work with,” said Kevin Bette, president of First Columbia. “They were both supportive and cooperative.”
Larry Hegele, who owns property near the lot, said he doesn’t think the zoning board of appeals should have awarded First Columbia a variance in the first place.
“It should have kept to the zoning in place,” he said.
Hegele said that he has heard from others in the community that they are concerned about losing the small-town charm of Wilmington should this lead to future developments and the effect it will have on the Wilmington Town Beach.
“I’m not against the concept, but it seems too close to the beach,” Wilmington resident Barbara Rothman said.
Some residents voiced their concerns about the townhouses at a public hearing on Feb. 17, 2010, at the lodge at Whiteface Mountain.
And according to Wilmington resident Ray Curran people are still unhappy about them. “A lot of people still don’t like them,” he said.
First Columbia also had to secure a letter of non-jurisdiction from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), a state agency that oversees development proposals for lands within the park, which took three years to get, according to Bette.
“It was tough getting here,” Wos said in retrospect. “I think when people see the finished product they will be happy with it.”
People who toured the completed townhouses of the Owaissa Club did seem impressed by them.
“I love them,” said Tina Preston, owner of T&T Tanning Salon and Fitness and former member of the zoning board. “I think they’re great. They’re much more spacious and high tech and modern than I thought they would be.”
Each unit has three levels — a main floor consisting of bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry; an upstairs consisting of a kitchen, a dining area and a living area; and a basement.
Wos characterized the floor plan of the townhouses as an “upside down townhouse.”
The townhouses will vary from one another by the number of bedrooms — two or three — the flooring— carpet or wood — having a deck or not, having a finished basement or not and the configuration of the kitchen.
The small details caught the attention of Brenda McGreevy, former Wilmington resident, as she toured the units.
“It’s very nice,” she said. “Nice closet space and windows.”
“I love the fireplace,” said Lake Placid resident Marilyn Smith.
But both women had some suggestions to improve the townhouses.
Smith said that there were too many stairs, making it difficult for the elderly to get around the unit.
McGreevy said a railing should be attached to the stairs leading into the units, especially for the wintertime when there’s a lot of snow and ice.
“Great for families vacationing in the area,” Smith said.
According to Bette, the target market for the townhouses are people in Montreal, Boston and New York City. “Because all are in driving distance,” he said.
Wos said people staying in their townhouse only seasonally will be able to rent it out. The homeowners association will help them with that process.
The starting asking price for a townhouse is $295,000. There will also be a monthly homeowners association fee of around $176, according to Wos.
Alicia Armstrong, former chairwoman of the Wilmington Zoning Board of Appeals, said the townhouses will provide a “more affordable, beautiful housing in the Whiteface area.”
Hegele doesn’t agree. “For the economic times, a two-bedroom condo for $300,000, it doesn’t sit well,” he said.
“It was controversial, but these are beautiful homes and the town should be happy with them,” Armstrong said.
Bette said First Columbia used local suppliers, materials and area contractors to build the units.
Preston said she thinks that the town will benefit from the townhouses.
“It’s going to attract more people to the area,” she said. “Helps skiing and businesses. We need it. We need something that would help liven up the area — and attract more people.”
“Everyone comes here, but leaves at the end of the day,” Wos said. “We’re trying to keep people here.”
For more information on the townhouses, visit www.owaissaclub.com'>www.owaissaclub.com
Contact Margaret Moran
at 518-523-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org'>email@example.com
Residents and other guests tour the new townhouses in Wilmington Sunday, July 10 during an open house event.
Photo/Margaret Moran/Lake Placid News