CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Greg Zellner, resident manager of the Canal House condo on Ala Wai Boulevard, answered yet another call yesterday asking for elevator service. CLICK FOR LARGE
Dysfunctional elevators give residents shaft
Tempers flare at the 25-story Canal House condominium over lack of elevator access
STORY SUMMARY »
Many residents at the 25-story Canal House in Waikiki are fuming about two-hour waits to get back to their apartments because of elevator problems.
One elevator has been down for more than three months, and the other is barely operating with three workers laboring nearly 24 hours a day to get people to their floors. They use cellular phones to communicate to manually get the lone operating elevator to waiting residents.
The wait could be up to six months to get the part to fix the out-of-service elevator.
Meanwhile, people's frozen food is defrosting or melting, but one resident likes walking up to his 12th-floor apartment.
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A broken elevator at a 25-story Waikiki condominium building has triggered residents' tempers, made occupants wait two hours to get up to their apartments and left workers trying to help out with little sleep.
But this is not the first time the elevators have broken down in the three months Greg Zellner has been resident manager of Canal House on Ala Wai Boulevard.
"This is probably the 10th or 12th time," he said.
For the past month, Zellner and another employee have been operating the lone operating elevator manually until repairs are made.
There are two elevators, but one has been down since March for maintenance that has never gotten done. And two days ago the other elevator got worse and stopped letting people get in or moving to floors when prompted.
The contractor, Hawaii Vertical Transportation, told Zellner it would take up to six weeks to replace the part needed for the out-of-service elevator, he said.
And for the past two days, a technician from the company was operating the elevator manually from a control room on the roof of the building.
The only way for the elevator to work now is for a resident to call the resident manager and tell him what floor to go to. Zellner then calls an employee standing inside the elevator, who pushes the button of the floor.
Then the Hawaii Vertical Transportation technician has to press another switch on the roof to the corresponding floor after he is prompted.
The technician, visibly tired and disheveled, declined comment and asked not to be named. He did say he was able to sneak in a power nap for about an hour or two before he had to wake up and start working on the elevator again.
Residents need the elevator even past midnight, so the manager, employee and technician have been working together almost nonstop for 48 hours with little sleep.
"We need to get rest; we need sleep," Zellner said. "All we can do is wait and do this because we can't get another company for now."
Hawaii Vertical Transportation officials did not return calls for comment. Zellner has received much criticism from angry residents.
Some residents reported being late for work.
Many of the residents in the 144 units are seniors. "That's the urgency, to make sure these folks are taken care of," he said.
Sanchia Roberts, a 65-year-old woman stricken with rheumatoid arthritis, cannot walk up a single flight of stairs, let alone get to her 17th-floor apartment without an elevator.
"In the last seven days, I've probably spent two or three hours a day just getting into my apartment because I was waiting for the elevator," Roberts said. "The other night, all my frozen food melted because I was waiting."
It gets frustrating because her husband also is disabled, and she gets concerned when she needs to take her medication, she said.
She thanks the technician who stayed up for 24 hours to work the elevator. "If anybody is a silent hero, this guy is it," she said.
At 83, Francis Lum is probably the building's oldest resident, but he does not mind walking up 12 flights of stairs, because he never has anything to carry, he wants the exercise and he is in no rush.
Besides, he got a scare from the elevator last week. He entered the elevator and pushed 12. Then the buttons 4 and 7 lit up. The elevator went past those floors, as well as 12, when the 17 button lit up.
The elevator continued up until it hit the 25th floor and opened.
"I just walked back down to the 12th floor," Lum said. "I got too scared, and I don't want to deal with it."