Resort developer Pritam Singh has acquired a 945-acre former Boy Scout camp and the 122-acre Crossett Pond in Fort Ann on the eastern edge of the Adirondack Park with plans to preserve their pristine nature by transforming them into a family compound.
The co-founder of hotel resort and neighborhood development firm The Singh Co., Singh purchased the former Crossett Lake Scout Reservation from Elizabeth Miller for $9.5 million in cash.
The transaction closed Friday. Broker Dan Davies of Davies-Davies & Associates Real Estate was the listing agent.
“We hope people come up and say, ‘Boy, this is a really well preserved great camp from the 19th century,’ ” Singh said.
The developer behind the 45-acre Truman Annex, Key West Golf Club, Parrott Key Resort and Ocean’s Edge Resort Marina in Key West spent more than 30 years searching throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for a property with a self-contained lake.
“I didn’t even know such a thing exists,” Singh said. “It’s like an alpine lake in Canada or an alpine lake in Switzerland … or an alpine lake in Colorado or Montana.”
Singh is working on redevelopment plans with Boston architect Guy Grassi. They have worked together on more than 1 million square feet of commercial and residential development projects since 1985.
Jeff Anthony of Studio A Landscape Architecture and Engineering of Saratoga Springs and real estate attorney Jon Lapper of Bartlett Pontiff Stewart & Rhodes of Glens Falls also are working on the Crossett Pond property redevelopment. They are preparing to file plans with the Adirondack Park Agency this month.
The sale comes with mixed emotions for manufacturing executive Elizabeth Miller, whose family had been stewards of the Crossett Pond estate since her late husband, Myles Miller, purchased the property for $1 million following its last season as a Boy Scout summer camp in 1994.
“It really is bittersweet. It is such a unique property. It was an honor to own it,” Elizabeth Miller said.
While the decision to sell was difficult for her, Miller believes the Singh family will be good stewards, and the proceeds will allow her to continue investing money to redevelop portions of Park Street in Glens Falls, where she owns a theater and market and a restaurant. She also plans to invest in her machining and fabrication company Miller Industrial Manufacturing in Glens Falls and Fort Edward.
Singh first discovered the Crossett Pond property a few weeks after it was listed for sale in September. The list price was $14.99 million.
He is seeking approval from the Adirondack Park Agency to construct a three-bedroom main cottage, a six-bedroom cottage and a three-bedroom guest cottage with no kitchen. Plans also include construction of a lodge with a dining area and an existing Boy Scout “health lodge” will be converted into a recreation and arts and crafts area.
A caretaker’s house will be upgraded for seasonal housekeepers, cooks and maintenance staff. And an existing three-bedroom house will remain on the property. Singh also wants to build three small boathouses.
“My goal in everything I build is to build traditional 19th century resort architecture,” Singh said. “If you look at what I did in Key West or what I did in Portland, Maine … you don’t know if it was built 150 years ago or built yesterday.”
With homes in the Florida Keys and South Woodstock, Vermont, Singh sees the Crossett Pond estate as a perfect location for his five children and seven grandchildren to spend time together.
“It feels like an untouched lake from centuries ago and it’s in its own bowl with cliffs on one side and on the other hand it’s within a three-hour driving distance from 30-plus million people and all of the culture and restaurants and shopping that that has,” Singh said.
Located at 12 Millers Way in Washington County, the Crossett Pond property is about a 20-minute drive to Lake George, a summer resort community to the west that serves as the playground for visitors from around the world. Saratoga Springs is a little more than 30 minutes away.
It is the setting that convinced Singh that he had found the property he had been searching for since the 1990s.
You can’t hear cars or trucks. There are no concerns about road salt, agricultural runoff or faulty septic systems seeping into the pond.
The property is surrounded by at least 13,000 acres of wilderness.
“If you are on Buck Mountain and you look south and east, you see Crossett Lake and you really get how extraordinary of a wilderness experience it is,” Singh said. “Even the valleys next door to it are separated because of the unique geography of it.”
Singh was represented in the land purchase by attorney Jon Lapper of Bartlett Pontiff Stewart & Rhodes. Elizabeth Miller was represented by Kara Lais of FitzGerald Morris Baker Firth PC of Glens Falls.
The listing attracted a lot of interest from real estate developers who were more interested in building large projects on the site, said Dan Davies, the listing broker.
“This really is the nicest piece of lakefront property I have ever listed in the southern Adirondacks,” Davies said. “If I hit the lottery, I would have bought it.”
Beyond its unique setting and more than two decades of history as a Boy Scout camp, the story about the sale of Crossett Pond is as much about how the property has been a preserved for so many years, Davies said.
“This is about Elizabeth and Pritam, two great people that care about giving back,” Davies added.