Northwood on Main Update

Due to unforeseen structural problems, a Main Street property purchased by Northwood School nearly three years ago will need to be torn down and rebuilt.

NorthwoodOnMain

The former With Pipe and Book store at 2495 Main St. is seen Friday with renderings hung behind storefront windows of Northwood School’s plans to convert the space into an educational hub after planned demolition. (photo: Antonio Olivero, Adk Daily Enterprise)

Late in 2015, Northwood School purchased a building on Main Street affectionately called “Northwood on Main.” The building was supposed to be used for new programs by now, but construction has yet to begin.

The change in timeline is due to structural problems that did not manifest themselves in the initial inspection.  “That’s not uncommon,” says Mr. Mike Maher, Northwood’s Head of School. “Once you get into the guts of a place you discover things that you can’t see in the conventional inspection process.”

After looking at those issues, studying them and talking with the board, Maher decided, somewhat regrettably, to tear the building down and build it anew in order to assure its sustainability and efficiency rather than try to renovate a structure that was fundamentally flawed.

Northwood on Main will develop programs that foster creativity, innovation, communication and multidimensional thinking.

Mr. Maher envisions Northwood on Main as a place where Northwood and the Lake Placid community come together. “Imagine driving down Main Street in Lake Placid, and being invited in to hear TED talks or to see kids demonstrate robotics,” he said. The school is also considering courses on coding and operating unmanned aerial systems (drones).

Although Northwood had a successful initial thrust into fundraising, including the “Ring the Bell for Northwood” campaign, the decision to tear the building down and rebuild increases the cost of the project by about half a million dollars, according to Maher.

Village rules and permitting restrictions are also likely to slow the project, because the village does not allow major construction on Main Street during peak tourist season.

Local planning boards have been supportive of the design and programming, Maher said, so there are no anticipated problems with government agencies. The school is in the midst of acquiring the necessary permits, which should be complete before the end of the year.

Considering all these factors, Northwood on Main might be open for business in two years.

Despite the delay, Mr. Maher still believes purchasing this building was a good idea. “Having participated in 85 million dollars worth of capital projects at my former school, I understand that once you get into the guts of a building, it is very normal for you to discover some problems; particularly in older buildings. So I wasn’t really surprised, and I wasn’t disappointed because I don’t spend much time on that. I spend more time on fixing the problem and getting things done.”

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