SARANAC LAKE - Step inside the Hotel Saranac's first floor, and you might wonder whether this project will ever be done.
The space doesn't look much different than it did eight months ago, when the Enterprise got a peek inside the building that's undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation by New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies.
The first-floor arcade, a long hallway lined with old glass storefronts that stretches from Main Street to Academy Street, is still stripped bare and littered with construction debris, old fixtures and equipment. A a gaping hole above it, where a staircase was removed, still hasn't been sealed up. The interior walls in the former gift shop are gone, but there hasn't been any new construction on this floor at all, some two years into the project.
In other parts of the building, however, it's clear there's been a lot of work. Rough plumbing, wiring, heating and air conditioning ducts, and equipment are being installed in the four guest-room floors. A pair of model rooms have been created, so furnishings and furniture can be ordered. The basement is ready for new construction. The roofs and guest room windows have been replaced.
There are several reasons why not much has happened on the first floor. For one, Roedel Companies still doesn't have a building permit to start construction here, or in the basement or the second floor. Then there are the surprises that have come up.
Roedel uses his shoe to brush the dust off the floor in what used to be A.P. Smith's restaurant, which will be the site of a new restaurant called the Campfire Grill.
"You can barely see it, but this floor actually is (original) terrazzo floor, no different than the arcade," he said. "It was just recently discovered. Now we're going to look at everything we're doing and decide if we want to maintain that."
Behind Roedel, as he talks, red "Danger: Asbestos Hazard" tape blocks off an area of the hotel's former kitchen that's been covered over by plastic.
"We're into our sixth asbestos abatement," he explains. "It's an ongoing element of the project."
The ceiling above the arcade will eventually be closed up, Roedel says, once a new elevator is installed that will service the basement, first and second floors. Except for the steel beams, the floors and ceilings have been cut open between those floors to make space for the elevator.
"Honestly, we've got a lot of debris here," Roedel says of the first floor's condition. "The walls have been taken down, so right now it's a process of building back. What we've got to do is get the HVAC, the plumbing, the electric all approved so that they can do the rough work. Rough work goes pretty quick; then you get right back into finished work."