Modernizing the elevators in upstate New York’s tallest building won’t be a quick or inexpensive endeavor.
The 17 passenger lifts and 2 freight elevators servicing the Erastus Corning Tower at the Empire State Plaza will take more than two years to overhaul. The state, in its request for bids, anticipated the project will cost $10 million to $12 million.
The units in the 42-story tower are all original, dating back to the building’s construction in the early 1970s. Built by the Otis Elevator Co. — the same company that installed the elevators in the Empire State Building — the lifts are in need of significant work to bring them into the future.
“This is the last major building at the Empire State Plaza to undergo an elevator modernization project,” said Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the state Office of General Services, which has many of its offices in the tower. “OGS has invested in upgrades to elevators throughout the complex in an effort to ensure the safety and well-being of tenants and visitors.”
The project will include a replacement of the control system, cabs, door wiring and fixtures. In addition, the hoist machinery will be rehabilitated, asbestos will be removed and safety features will be improved.
The state is offering separate contracts for the elevators, electrical work, construction work and maintenance. Work is expected to be in phases, with the building’s elevators being overhauled three at a time. Bids are expected to be returned in the first quarter of 2014.
Earlier this month, elevator problems led to the state shutting down the observation deck in the tower’s 42nd floor.
Groll said the state is now working to restore public access to the deck and anticipates it will reopen sometime in early January.
About 2,500 people work in the building, which was completed in 1973.
Extending 589 feet, the landmark tower is considered the tallest building between the skyscrapers of New York City and Montreal.
The elevators were cited in a September 2012 report by the state Comptroller’s Office, which revealed 32 maintenance deficiencies at the Empire State Plaza that remained unrepaired for at least five months.
Schindler Elevator Corp. — the private company contracted to service the plaza’s elevators through March 2014 — left the deficiencies unrepaired from September 2010 until February 2011, even though repairs are supposed to be made within 30 working days of a problem being identified.
Groll said the modernization will reduce ongoing maintenance and service costs associated with the existing, outdated equipment. She said the improvements should also help eliminate people getting stuck in malfunctioning elevators.
“The modernization project will also decrease elevator wait times, increase the efficiency of the vertical transportation system and reduce energy costs,” she said.