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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chateau Hotel sold
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2013-01-17

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A contentious Lakeview single room occupancy (SRO) hotel has been sold after city inspectors cited a laundry list of building code violations last year.

Chateau Hotel, 3820-3838 N. Broadway, has been purchased by a group of investors and is being held in a land trust, according to an announcement from 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman.

The announcement does not state who the investors are or what the sale means for the future or the Chateau.

According to Cappleman, that information will be released at a Jan. 29 court hearing. He said he does not know the fate of the hotel but added that new owners reached out to him.

Cappleman has been supportive of SROs and affordable housing. But he has expressed frustrations with former Chateau owner Jack Gore, who, he alleges, was unresponsive to concerns about resident safety.

"This sends a clear message to other building owners in the 46th Ward that we require a safe environment for their residents and the surrounding community," said Cappleman in the statement. "Everyone deserves a safe and secure home."

Chateau Hotel has long been a source of controversy for Lakeview residents.

Many have hailed SROs like the Chateau as one of a dwindling number of affordable options in the neighborhood. SRO residents can rent on a nightly, week-to-week or monthly. SROs tend to be cheaper than most studio and one-bedroom apartments, and they come furnished. For people who don't have money for security deposits or have criminal histories, they are sometimes the only option available.

But SRO housing has also earned a negative reputation over the years, as many SROs have been neglected by owners and fallen into disrepair.

Such is the case for Hotel Chateau, some area residents say.

A recent building inspection revealed a slew of violations that landed in the building in court and stirred rumors that it could be facing closure. Gore reportedly missed two court dates related to the building because he could not be served.

Cappleman ran his campaign on a promise of easing problems at the Chateau, and he said it was one of the first things he tackled in office.

According to Cappleman, he met with Gore about problems at the building but that effort failed to fix many of the building's problems.

Gore's attorney Victor Ciardelli did not immediately respond to a request to comment. But in a letter released by Cappleman's office, Ciardelli accuses Cappleman of unfairly harassing Gore with multiple city inspections.

Ciardelli said that problems in the area around the Chateau stem from Gill Park, a public play lot located next to the hotel, and not from hotel itself. He said that the building is well run.

"The Chateau Hotel has always been considered as an example of a well run and being tenant friendly (sic)," the letter states. "It is unfortunate for the Chateau Hotel, who has been in business for sixty years, has (sic) seen a change of neighboring owners of property in the city who feel that anyone who is a tenant in a SRO is beneath the dignity of the present residents in the area surrounding the Chateau Hotel.

"At this point we feel that the Chateau Hotel is being singled out by you, Alderman Cappleman, to carry out the numerous threats that you made during your campaign to become the alderman that (sic) you would close down the Chateau Hotel."

Cappleman cites a lack of screens on the windows, electrical problems at the building and other violations. He said that residents have also been known to throw beer bottles at kids playing in Gill Park.

Residents have complained for years about building.

But for any tensions between some Chateau residents and other community members, Cappleman and others have said the goal was not to shutter to hotel.

"I am very supportive of SROs, and there are some examples of SROs that are run really well," Cappleman previously told Windy City Times. "Everyone deserves to feel safe no matter what their economic background may be."

Cappleman, a former social worker, said he will also be pushing for city policy that mandates better social services for those experiencing drug and alcohol addiction or mental illness, many of whom are housed in SROs.

And, he said, the neighborhood will no longer tolerate housing people in conditions like those reportedly at the Chateau.

"Never again will we see this type of embarrassment and disgrace in the 46th Ward," he said."


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