SARANAC LAKE – Before the first floor of the Hotel Saranac can be restored to its former self, it has to gutted.
That’s what construction workers were busy doing Monday. Tom Spaulding, the foreman of the job, said his crew of about six men were almost finished with the work on the first floor, removing walls, tearing down drop ceilings, ripping up carpet and cleaning the place out. A forklift hauled the garbage to nearby trash cans at the back of the property.
“Last week we started,” Spaulding said. “Tomorrow we are going down in the basement.”
In December 2013, the New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies purchased the 87-year-old hotel for $1.4 million with the intention of restoring the iconic building. The hotel will remain closed until work is complete and is expected to reopen sometime in 2015.
Fred B. Roedel III, a partner in Roedel Companies and president of ROK Builders, is one of the men in charge of the restoration.
“I guess what we are calling it is stage one,” Roedel told the Enterprise. “Today is a phase one cleanout and demolition, and then we have some (asbestos) abatement.”
Included in that phase is destroying unneeded material and removing garbage on the first floor and basement. The first stage of the project is expected to be finished near the end of May. Friend Construction, a Malone-based company, was hired by the developer to perform the cleanout.
The basement has “years and years” of trash that needs to be removed. There is also small areas of asbestos along the piping of the old steam system, Roedel said. He hired a Plattsburgh-based company to do that work when the time comes.
“It has to be done by a professional company, the specs are being written up now,” Roedel said. “Abatement is limited to the basement. That we should be doing by the end of May.”
Roedel said the workers can’t destroy anything historical inside the building and are making sure to look out for things that can be preserved by placing items inside the former dining room.
Almost “95 percent” of the second floor is historically intact and hardly anything will be demolished there. The first floor is a different story. It was remodeled in 1977, so a lot of that material is not historical and is being removed. However, underneath the torn down walls, history was exposed.
“All of that (history) got covered up in 1977,” Roedel said. “A lot of what we are uncovering is historical elements.”
Chris Alcocer, the project manager, said once the drop ceilings are removed the engineers can begin to examine and draw up plans for the electrical, heating and plumbing.
“There were some acoustical ceilings and those need to come out to see the original hardwood ceiling,” Alcocer said. “By then we can see what (is there) as far as existing mechanics. Once they get that design I think there are some areas that can proceed.”
Roedel is taking the restoration one step at a time, saying he will visit the building Friday for an inspection of the progress.
“After this phase, we’ll see what the next stages are,” Roedel said. “We just have to continually work with our historical people.”