Woodbine Group breeds new life into orphaned buildings
The Tailwater Lodge, Altmar, NY
Only steps away from The Tailwater Lodge is a lush, green shoreline along the Salmon River.
Tom Fernandez was traveling to fish in the lower fly zone of the Salmon River when he saw a “for sale” sign on the former Altmar Elementary School.
Fernandez said, “The rest is history.”
He’s an avid fly angler and a representative of The Woodbine Group, a privately-held, family-run commercial real estate holding, and development company based in Syracuse, NY. The school was built in 1935 as the Altmar Elementary School and was vacant for approximately six years when The Woodbine Group purchased the two-story, 32,000 square foot structure from the school district in March 2013. Following an eight-month construction process, the Tailwater Lodge opened with a project cost close to seven million dollars.
The design team included Edwin I Harrington Architects; Charity Buchika, interior design; Lan Co., site work; and interior hardwood and case goods by Artistry in Wood and Cab Fab.
Fernandez’s step-father, Norman Swanson founded the business in 1978. The Woodbine Group breathes new life into abandoned buildings like elementary schools, abandoned Jewish temples and former medical arts’ buildings through adaptive reuse projects.
“As my step-father says he finds ‘orphans’ and then breathes new life into them,” Fernandez explained. “That’s our business model. We are very sustainable. We have a very environmentally centric way of developing…”
Rather than tear down old buildings and start from the ground up, Fernandez said his family feels it’s necessary to revitalize this area of the country to bring new growth.
“There are some amazing buildings that have been abandoned and we choose to embrace that history and show what the northeast has to offer.”
The renovation of the building was more of a facelift with changes and updates made to the façade and the reappointment of space. Contractors were also able to utilize the majority of the windows and interior doors. Reclaimed timber conjures a “lodgey” feel, but don’t let the word “lodge” fool you. The Tailwater offers 42 guest rooms with unparalleled comfort and style and is one of two Orvis endorsed lodges in New York State.
“The large doors into the foyer, bar, birch walls, front desk pods were all reclaimed timber,” Fernandez says. “I think the restaurant and bar really stand out. Walking in and seeing the painting by Bob Ripley across the wall really brings the ‘lodginess” of the Tailwater out.”
Following an afternoon of fly fishing in the Salmon River, or any year-round outdoor activity, the Tailwater’s rustic décor, superb gut-pleasing meals served in the former gymnasium, over-the-top comfortable mattresses, custom-made in upstate New York, and bathrooms with large shower units and plentiful hot water will beckon you to come inside.
A refrigerator, free high-speed wireless internet, flat-screen cable TV, and a hearty, complimentary hot breakfast will prepare you for a day of searching for fish in the surrounding waterways or snowmobiling on the C5A Trail groomed trail system. Guests can don their gear and find onsite direct access to the Salmon River only footsteps away and upon their return to the lodge, can rinse their gear in the wader wash area and then store them in the facility’s locker area.
Fernandez noted, “The Tailwater Lodge caters to individuals and groups looking to tailor their experience.”
For more information, visit tailwaterlodge.com.
Read about my fishing guide blog here.