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Hotel parking garage work continues

SARANAC LAKE – Work on the Hotel Saranac’s parking garage has resumed after a couple weeks of inactivity at the site.

Mark Armstrong, the on-site project manager for ROK Builders, said last week that site preparation work for the two-level parking garage came to a halt due to some design changes.

However, he said the pre-cast concrete pieces of the parking garage have been assembled by J.P. Carrara & Sons of Middlebury, Vermont, and they could be brought in sometime in the next few weeks.

“They’re sitting there ready to go,” Armstrong said. “I was just on the phone with the parking garage people, and we talked about possibly starting it the first week of November. We want to get it done. We’re crossing our fingers.”

Workers from Luck Brothers Construction of Plattsburgh were back on the site this week. They’re a subcontractor for Friend Construction of Malone, which is in charge of the site preparation and concrete work for the garage, according to owner Beth Friend. She said she had to shift some of her crews to other jobs, so they hadn’t been working in Saranac Lake lately.

Now that they’re back, Friend said she’s hopeful the garage could be complete this fall.

“That can definitely still happen,” she said. “We only probably have a couple more weeks of work to be ready for (the pre-cast pieces). It’s very possible that can still happen.”

In recent weeks, several people have told the Enterprise or posted on Facebook that some contractors have stopped working on the parking garage and the Hotel Saranac renovation because they weren’t being paid in a timely fashion by the hotel’s owner, Roedel Companies of New Hampshire. A representative of Luck Brothers referred the question to Friend, who said that hasn’t been the case for her company.

“Payment was a little bit slow but I have been paid,” she said.

Syracuse-based Burns Brothers Contractors was one of the companies that reportedly had stopped working on the site due to payment issues. Its president, Karl Engelbrecht, declined to answer questions Tuesday, saying he doesn’t talk about the companies he works for.

Armstrong noted that Burns Brothers employees were on the site last week. He referred the newspaper to his boss, Fred Roedel of ROK Builders. Roedel, and a public relations representative for Roedel Companies, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

“I don’t think anybody’s pulled out because of funding or anything like that at this point,” Armstrong said. “A lot of it is just design changes and the hiccups of doing a renovation. Every time you turn around, you find something different with the design or they want to change it.”

The hotel’s restoration has been slow, but work continues to take place both inside and outside the building on a daily basis. Its projected reopening date has been a moving target. Until recently, it was the winter of 2016-17.

“Going through all the due diligence with the historical preservation and all the right codes to get this hotel to the gem it’s going to be, that date has probably slid a little bit,” hotel General Manager Michael Salyers said last month. “We’re definitely looking for 2017, probably more in the spring.”