Each fall, thousands visit Oswego County to experience world class fishing on the Salmon River, but as the industry has grown, local hotels and restaurants have struggled to keep up. Now a local developer is turning an old building into a new solution. Our Candace Hopkins has details on the Tailwater Lodge.
ALTMAR, N.Y. -- Since its closure in 2012, area officials have been looking for a new use for the Altmar Elementary School. The building is just one of many Oswego County structures that have the potential to be re-purposed.
"Any time you can take an old building and re-use it, everybody wins, the property retains its historic nature, you're doing your part for sustainability," said Oswego County Director of Community Development, Tourism and Planning David Turner.
Woodbine Group Director of Business Development Tom Fernandez discovered the vacant property while fishing the Salmon River last year. Now the company is turning it into a 42 room fishing lodge.
"This project has two forms that really worked for us. One, it can with wonderful river-frontage on the Salmon River, which is pretty hard to come by in this area, so it was a perfect location and it was something that we're really comfortable doing, which is taking these old buildings and building something new," said Fernandez.
More than 30,000 people from out of state travel to Oswego County every year to fish the Salmon River and hotel rooms are hard to come by, especially those on the river. The school sits on 35 acres, with 17,000 feet of access to the river. Now construction crews are racing to transform the building into a hotel.
"It was an easier project for us, because if you think about a school, it has central corridors with rooms off each side, so what we did was, we actually took each classroom, split it in half to create one guest room," said Fernandez.
The facility will be open year round, but will cater to fishermen.
"We're looking for that kind of resort typesetting that you might find out West, or in the Adirondacks, or some where even the Catskills, so it is that one stop shop. When you wake up in the morning, all you've gotta do is step out in the back and you'll be fishing the famous School House pool," said Fernandez.
The Woodbine Group says their goal is to have the hotel open by Columbus Day, just in time for the peak of salmon season.
Oswego County officials say the fishing industry brings $42 million into the county each year.