ALEXANDRIA BAY — An Alexandria Bay developer plans to spend up to $9 million to build a luxury motorcoach resort with 280 RV pad sites and a 100-slip marina along the St. Lawrence River near the Thousand Islands Bridge.
Robert J. Reddick said Thursday that Swan Bay Resort — to be developed off Route 12 adjacent to Price Chopper in the town of Alexandria — will be built over the next three to five years with a total investment of $7 million to $9 million.
The resort will have a soft opening in July, Mr. Reddick said, when 75 RV sites, five two-bedroom chalets and a floating dock with 60 seasonal and transient slips will be available for rent. The project will be completed by Mr. Reddick’s construction firm, Con Tech Building Systems of Gouverneur.
An in-ground pool and bath house, renovations to a retail camping store and the installation of water, sewer and road infrastructure also will be part of the project’s $2.5 million first construction phase, to be completed by this summer, Mr. Reddick said. That phase will be funded partly by a $500,000 low-interest loan approved Thursday by the Development Authority of the North Country’s board of directors. The 20-year loan with 1 percent interest will be issued from the authority’s Community Tourism Transformation Fund.
Mr. Reddick bought the property — the former site of Swan Bay Beach Club — for about $1 million in August 2013 from local businessman Donald E. Cole. He said he has invested about $500,000 during the past two years to demolish several buildings on the site — previously a trailer park with a restaurant, mobile homes and a small motel. In addition, he said, five chalets and a caretaker house at the site were renovated.
Mr. Reddick said he is optimistic that RV sites, chalets and marina slips will be in high demand this summer, which could generate profits needed to break ground on additional construction phases at the 55-acre property. He said numerous people already have made advance reservations for the RV sites and two-bedroom chalets, which include spacious sleeping lofts and have room for up to 12 people.
“We’ve already had tens of thousands of dollars confirmed for July,” Mr. Reddick said, adding the resort will be staffed by 11 part-time employees this year. He said an additional 13 part-time jobs would be created if the whole project is completed. About 30 to 40 temporary construction jobs will be created to complete the project, he said.
Mr. Reddick said his business plan is centered on achieving status as a four-star, Class A motorcoach resort in 2016. With that status, he said, the resort would be open exclusively to owners of luxury diesel motorcoaches that are at least 36 feet long and more than 10 years old.
As a Class A resort, “it would cater almost exclusively to the high-end motor coach business,” he said. “We would like to be a destination for the big diesel pushers, offering up a wide variety of amenities and services that you normally wouldn’t get from your standard camping experience. There might be about a dozen in the country at the level we’re talking about.”
Mr. Reddick said people often pay about $1 million to purchase luxury motorcoaches, and they stay exclusively at Class A resorts across the country.
“They travel in groups and want to be in a separate location in the campground so they’re amongst their own. And I feel like there’s a real need for this in the Thousand Islands,” he said, adding that the site plan also calls for 36 camping sites to be located in an area separate from the RV lots.
Additional construction phases, which would boost the overall project cost from $7 million to $9 million, call for luxury amenities that would include two additional bath houses, a marina store, a maintenance facility, 140 self-storage units and a playground, along with nature trails and walking paths. An additional 40 marina slips would be built in 2016, and the number of RV pads would climb to 280 by the end of the project.
Mr. Reddick’s property also includes a pair of commercial parcels, each about two acres, that front Route 12. He said he hopes to attract wellness-related businesses that would be geared toward visitors at the seasonal resort.
“We’re not sure that it needs to be retail. It could be something more in line with the health and wellness industry, or something to be an amenity to the Baby Boomer crowd at the park,” Mr. Reddick said, adding the resort will be open this year through October, then reopen in April of next year.
Mr. Reddick’s business plan, which was provided Thursday to DANC’s board members for review, shows the resort plans to operate at a net loss of $46,711 in 2015 after generating $410,112 in revenue and spending $456,823. But in 2016, it expects to generate a net income of $87,357 after posting a gross profit of $617,587 and expenses of $530,231.
DANC BACKS LOAN
Mr. Reddick described the authority’s $500,000 low-interest loan approved Thursday as “a huge help” for the project.
The loan is to be issued by the authority’s Community Tourism Transformation Fund, which is designed to help advance lodging, hospitality and tourism-related projects across the agency’s seven-county coverage area; in 2013 the state awarded the authority $2 million to establish the fund.
The board’s approval of the loan Thursday is contingent on a satisfactory appraisal of the property with a minimum value of about $3.2 million. Watertown Savings Bank, which also is financing the project, has hired a firm to conduct an appraisal of the property, which will serve as collateral for debt taken on by the developer.
The project “would really renovate an area that’s become blighted over the past few years — the Swan Bay area,” Michelle L. Capone, DANC’s director of regional development, said during Thursday’s meeting. “He has invested a significant amount of his own funds to clean up that location.”
DANC board member Alexander A. MacKinnon said Mr. Reddick’s construction firm is well-respected in the region and the resort’s waterfront location would be an ideal destination for tourists.
“You can see it from the bridge, and it would be a great spot for something like this,” Mr. MacKinnon said. “It’s a big chunk of land that really is just kind of sitting there.”
By creating a tourism attraction near the Canadian border, authority CEO James W. Wright said, the project illustrates what the tourism fund was created to accomplish.
“It’s exactly what the tourism fund was recommended by various tourism programs across the north country to do — create better and higher-end housing capacity for tourists,” he said.