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Tower Building gets a reprieve on elevator test

Updated: March 20, 2013 6:30AM

ELGIN — Management of the Tower Building has gotten a reprieve from having the building’s elevators condemned and a subsequent order from the city that most of the 17-story structure be vacated.

An inspection of the 1927 skyscraper elevators has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, said Neal Pitcher, who heads the non-profit William R. Stickling Foundation — owner of the building.

“The elevators are being tested at 8 a.m. and there will not be any interruption in service,” Pitcher said Monday.

Assuming the elevators pass the tests, “we are not going to issue the order that we planned,” condemning the elevators, said Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal.

“We hope that all of these issues can be resolved after the inspection,” Kozal said.

The elevator issue had come to a head when the city became aware that the necessary inspection was approximately eight months overdue, Kozal said. Pitcher was informed by city hall Thursday that the tests needed to be completed by Feb. 15. A flurry of emails between the city, Pitcher and elevator inspectors in the past few days indicated Tuesday was the earliest the inspection could be scheduled.

If the elevators had been condemned, tenants above the first floor would have been given seven days to clear out, Kozal said.

Only the elevators would have been condemned had the inspection not been scheduled, or if the elevators do not pass the inspection, Kozal said — not the entire building. There is a provision in the property maintenance code that “any building designed to be accessed with an elevator … if they remain non-functioning, would be rendered uninhabitable,” Kozal explained.

Tuesday’s $8,500 inspection is being paid for through a donor, facilitated by the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The DNA occupies a portion of the building’s first floor, and that space is donated by the foundation, said DNA President Karin Jones.

That donation is being treated as a loan from one non-profit to another, she added.

The “category 1” test scheduled for Tuesday morning will check to ensure breaks are working correctly, but without weight on the elevator, Pitcher said.

Another, “category 5” inspection has a May deadline, both Pitcher and Kozal said.

In the that test, the elevator is loaded with steel weights and dropped, again to ensure its brakes are working correctly.

Pitcher said he is confident the elevators will past both tests. “They have always passed in the past,” he said.

He hopes the second inspection will also be completed either Friday or Monday, Pitcher said.

In the meantime, while the city, Pitcher and inspection company have worked out details, the DNA has been working with tenants there to help them find other rental space if necessary, Jones said.

“We we reached out to Neal to see what we could assist with, the financial part of it, if they couldn’t afford to get it done,” Jones said.

“One of our board members did offer to make a financial contribution, secured by a loan,” she said.

For the DNA, the primary importance was helping the businesses in the Tower Building keep their locations, Jones said.

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