Single Room Occupancy hotels are a dying breed in Chicago. Notoriously undermanaged and generally unpopular among immediate neighbors, the majority of these base-service dwellings have been condemned or rehabbed into other residential uses over the past decade.
The fate of the Chateau Hotel, one of the last SRO hotels on Chicago’s North Side, looks to be leaning toward the latter.
On Tuesday, city building inspectors met with an attorney for the Chateau’s new owners in housing court to address ongoing code violations present at the depression-era hotel, located at 3838 N Broadway Street in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood. Those violations—which number over 130 and include fire code, plumbing, and waste management abuses—were brought before the building’s former owner, Jack Gore, in October.
Gore recently sold the hotel to a group of land trust investors represented as Arbas Investments LP, the stakeholders of which have yet to be publicly revealed. The partnership’s attorney, Mitchell Asher, said that his clients had the funding to bring the Chateau back up to code. This would likely include a full gut and rehab of the 138-bed building—a job that the 100 tenants currently residing at the hotel would not be around to see, he said.
“It has to be vacated,” Asher said.
For the dozen or so residents who attended the hearing, this was somewhat expected. In 2009, Gore handed the city another nearby SRO, the Diplomat Hotel, in light of similar building and fire code violations; that building is now being rehabbed into housing for people with mental illnesses. Last year, Gore sold his Abbot Hotel property to Jamie Purcell, a principal at BJB properties who is rumored to have a hand in the new ownership of the Chateau.
Occupants at these hotels pay daily to monthly rates for rooms that include basic furnishings with shared or private bathrooms. Once an abundant source of housing in Chicago, SROs are a requisite option for some who can’t lease apartments because of background and credit issues and could otherwise be on the streets.
Donna Crosier has lived at the Chateau for two-and-a-half years. She and her husband pay $575 a month for a room with a bathroom, but no fridge or stove. Crosier said she doesn’t mind eating out, but what gets to her is the lack of maintenance services in the building, namely rodent control.
“That’s not fair, and it doesn’t help the building,” said Crosier.
In the hallway of the Daley Center courtroom following the hearing, Alderman James Cappleman (46th) promised residents that his office would begin the supportive housing process ahead of eviction notices at the hotel, where, he said, the continuing code violations were the sign of “a broken system in Chicago.”
“You’re living in market-rate housing, but you’re just living in market-rate housing that is so sub-standard,” said Cappleman. “It’s worse than I’ve even seen.”
A hearing to discuss a compliance order at the Chateau has been scheduled for March 5.