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Sagamore to Build Townhomes at Nirvana Farm

Workforce Dorm, Commercial Building, also Planned

Sagamore to Build Townhomes at Nirvana Farm May 30, 2024
Nirvana Farm townhomes. Architectural renderings courtesy of Phinney Design Group.
Nirvana Farm townhomes. Architectural renderings courtesy of Phinney Design Group.

For the first time since 1883, when the first Sagamore hotel opened on Green Island, the resort will start lodging guests on the mainland.

According to Tom Guay, the Sagamore’s general manager, three townhomes, housing eighteen two and three-bedroom suites, will be built on the four-acre Nirvana Farm.

The late Tom Walsh, whose family-owned company purchased the resort in 2008, acquired the Sagamore Road property in 2010.

Originally a home for the caretaker of Villa Nirvana, the Green Island mansion of early Sagamore investor John Boulton Simpson, the grounds were also used for growing vegetables and flowers for Villa Nirvana – hence the name, Nirvana Farm. From 1929 to 1973, it was owned by Simpson’s daughter Helen, a Bolton Landing civic and social leader.

The 19th century caretaker’s cottage, the greenhouse and carriage barn will be razed; the boathouse, where privately-owned boats are berthed, will be preserved.

According to plans filed with the Town of Bolton’s Planning Department, the 18 suites will include living and dining rooms, kitchenettes and balconies or terraces.

A private beach and a swimming pool will be among the amenities of the reimagined Nirvana Farm, whose units are expected to fetch roughly $1,500 per night during the shoulder seasons and $3,000 per night in the summer months.

“We felt there was a demand and a need for two and three-bedroom condominium units from the beginning of June through October, but we think they will drive sales throughout the year,” said Guay.

Guay said he anticipates the new accommodations will become available for the use of guests in spring, 2026.

The townhomes have been designed by Mike Phinney, whose firm, Phinney Design Group, is also responsible for two other projects for which the Sagamore is seeking approvals.

The first is a traditional, Main Street commercial building, with retail or professional space on the ground floor and four to six apartments above and behind it.

The second is a 53-unit workforce housing dormitory on Green Island, capable of housing more than 100 employees.

Main Street Revisited

On vacant property bordering Nirvana Farm but facing Lakeshore Drive, the Sagamore’s owners will construct a traditional, Main Street commercial building, with retail or professional space on the ground floor and four to six apartments above and behind it.

“We’re excited about this; it’s a valuable piece of land, of importance to the town, that has been just begging for reuse,” said Guay.

According to Guay, the commercial space will be leased to a tenant and the apartments will be long-term rentals, suitable for permanent hotel employees or those working within the community, at the school, in town government or the health center, for example. Subleases or short-term rentals will be prohibited, Guay added.

The building will be completed as early as autumn 2025 and no later than spring 2026, said Guay.

Workforce Housing on Green Island

Once the workforce dormitory is built on Green Island, “my housing headaches will start to go away,” said Guay.

Finding sufficient numbers of rooms for its employees is an annual challenge, he said.

“Every year, we rent space in the community, in multiple venues, and not only from those in the housing business. So it’s our responsibility to make certain the rooms comply with all regulations and requirements and are ready for habitation,” said Guay.

For example, the resort currently rents 22 rooms and 45 beds from a motel south of the Bolton Landing hamlet on Route 9N. Its distance from Green Island requires the resort to operate a shuttle to transport workers almost continuously from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm every day.

Every room in the new dormitory will have its own bathroom and shower. On the first floor, a kitchen and a dining area will be available for the use of the residents.

Employees living in the dorm will pay rent through a pay roll deduction, said Guay.

New Uses for Rondack Motel

With the ability to house workers on Green Island, the Sagamore will be able to dispose of at least one off-site employee housing facility, the former Rondack Motel and the adjacent residence.

The Bolton Volunteer Fire Department and a private real estate investor are among the entities which have reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the property, which is located on the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Mohican Hill.

“There are a number of uses to which that property could be put that would be good for and a credit to the community,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.

The properties are not, as of now, connected to the Bolton Wastewater collection and treatment system; that may be necessary to if their potential for redevelopment is to be fully realized.

Resort Seeking Approvals

Before construction of the dormitory can proceed, Bolton’s Town Board is required by law to approve an amendment to the resort’s Planned Unit Development plan, a land use within the town’s code that permits more flexibility and greater density than what is required by traditional zoning ordinances.

The lodgings at Nirvana Farm and the commercial building on Lakeshore Drive require approvals by Bolton’s zoning and planning boards.

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