Developers plan family destination in Schroon Lake
By James M. Odato
The family vacation destination used by visitors to Schroon Lake over decades will be reopened after renovations as part of a $21 million project led by a Saratoga Springs construction company operator.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the deal because state funds will be subsidizing the project developed by Sonny Bonacio of Bonacio Construction.
The project involves the Word of Life Lodge, also known as the Brown Swan Club, its original name when it opened in 1917, along the west shore of Schroon Lake.
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Bonacio, 55, is heading Spring City Development Group, a subsidiary of Bonacio Construction. Bonacio said Friday that the existing buildings will be converted into the Brown Swan Resort, a “premier” Adirondack destination with 121 guest rooms including 69 standard rooms, 25 suites, nine seasonal chalets, eight cabins and 10 glamping sites.
Bonacio’s The Lodge at Schroon Lake LLC purchased the property for $4.25 million. A bar may be installed as plans call for hiring two bartenders among the 18 full-time and 24 part-time employees envisioned.
The resort will include a 10,000 square-foot “world-class” restaurant and miniature golf, multipurpose sports courts and guest swimming areas with docks and a deck.
Bonacio said he hopes to market the resort to the types of people who once flocked there to participate in activities and vacations with the Word of Life Fellowship, the religious-based camp now in its 75th year of existence along Schroon Lake.
He hopes to market to people still coming to the region for the organization’s camping operations, Bible study and higher education programs, more than 8,000 visitors a year.
“That was one of the reasons it fit,” Bonacio said. “We’re basically just rehabbing the existing structures.”
The roughly 34 acres will be upgraded as part of a plan developed by Bonacio and his wife Julie, who just opened a satellite office of her Saratoga Springs real estate business in Schroon Lake. They are partnering on the lodge and resort project with Andrea Crisafulli and Alan Ayers. The resort’s operations will be handled by Hay Creek Hotels.
The state is providing a $4.1 million grant through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The state expects creation of 26 full-time equivalent jobs at the site, plus seven seasonal positions. The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is also supporting the project. Essex County’s industrial development agency authorized $409,000 in sales tax and $178,748 in mortgage tax breaks.
Schroon Supervisor Meg Wood said she is happy the developers are bringing back the Brown Swan name, making the facility affordable and acquainted with the town. “They seem to have a sense for the region. That’s important when you have investors coming in a small town,” she said. “There’s always a little trepidation by people to change.”
Schroon Lake, she said, offers an excellent location for vacationers being right off the Adirondack Northway and driving distance from major Northeast cities.
John Nelson, vice president of the nonprofit organization Word of Life Fellowship, said the buyer “will be very good stewards of the property. I’ve seen the other work that they’ve done and been impressed.”
Owned since 1953 by Word of Life, the lodge facilities have been expanded and improved and used for conferences and vacationers that abide by the standards of the organization, whose mission is to build and strengthen the Church of Jesus Christ through ministries, Bible institutes and youth and family programs.
Bonacio also owns a residence in the Lake George area but has no immediate plans for more Adirondack investments beyond the lodge and resort. “Right now we’ve got our hands full with this one,” he said.