A New Elevator? Oh, We Hope So!

With all of the many improvements that the Antlers has made over the years, we know that our real Achilles’ Heel is the south (original) elevator. Clearly it does not begin to match the Platinum quality that we have worked so hard to achieve in the condominiums. Although we have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to make that elevator acceptable, the handwriting is on the wall that it just needs to be completely replaced.

A little historical perspective …

Only a few guests and owners will remember that the original elevator had just three landings to service our seven story building! It stopped on 2½, 4½ & 6½. That was it. Everywhere you got out of the elevator, you had to go up or down a half flight of stairs to get to any condominium. Hard to believe, I know. People in the first floor units had to hike a half flight up to the lower parking level and three half-flights up to the lobby. It’s hard to comprehend the hassle of moving everything … from luggage to furniture. We didn’t have any luggage carts, instead using an appliance dolly with a big drop down tongue. Oddly, back in the day, our guests and owners didn’t seem to mind when we handed them that thing. I can only imagine what people would think if that happened today. Oh my goodness!

Our housekeepers were practically body builders from having to literally carry their vacuum cleaners and all their cleaning supplies up and down stairs all day long. To go to the swimming pool from the 6th floor, you had to walk up a half flight of stairs to catch the elevator, ride down to the lobby level and then walk down another flight and a half to the first floor. The return trip, dripping wet in the dead of winter, would be beyond intolerable by today’s standards.

I remember working at the front desk in the early 80’s and dreading the late night call from a guest asking for a rollaway. I would have to manhandle it alone, up and down those same stairs.  In every respect the inconvenience was unbelievable and looking back, it’s amazing that our owners and guests tolerated it for twenty years.

My first significant capital project as General Manager was in 1994 when we finally figured out that we could build glass-enclosed landings on the west side of the shaft (which was previously outdoor, open airspace). That allowed the elevator to have doors front and back, stopping on every floor. Oh, the convenience!

Unfortunately, the first and second floor openings were constrained by a massive concrete retaining wall, which is why those two doors are much narrower than all the other floors and don’t come close to meeting the building codes of 2017. That retaining wall remains one of our physical constraints today.

The original elevator was a hydraulic piston elevator, more typically suited for a two, or at most, three story building. The original four story run (from the lobby level at floor 2½ up to 6½) was too much for a single piston, so it had a two-stage “jack”. Even that was pushing the limits and maintenance on it was a major hassle from day one.

When we added the extra landings in 1994, the distance from the first floor to the seventh was far too great for any two stage piston, and the accompanying underground silo was nowhere near deep enough, so we had to import a three stage jack from Germany. I was told that it was the only one in America at the time. There’s a reason for that … the third stage had to be of such small diameter (to fit inside stages one and two), that when it was fully extended it had all the stability of a spaghetti noodle. Maintenance challenges continued, to say the least.

Our other intrinsic problem is that the elevator and associated equipment room are basical