Jul 29, 2014

March, Protest Planned in Wake of Hotel Chateau's Sale

The Lakeview Action Coalition says Chateau’s residents were just given a 30-day lease termination notice. With more than 700 affordable housing units were lost in Lake View the past year, and with Chateau next on the chopping block, they’re planning a p

March, Protest Planned in Wake of Hotel Chateau's Sale

With Hotel Chateau on the real estate chopping block, the Lakeview Action Coalition says they plan to march and protest the loss of affordable housing in Lake View this Sunday.

The group says more than 700 affordable single room occupancy units were converted to high-end, market rate housing in the past year alone. That’s including Hotel Chateau, where residents were given 30-day lease termination notices on Jan. 30, the group says.

Behind five of those SRO building renovations, including Lake View’s Abbott Hotel, is BJB Properties LLC Principal Jamie Purcell. The real estate giant’s lawyer announced a planned gut-rehab of the building at 3838 N. Broadway during the most recent court date, meaning all the tenants will soon be vacated.

“At some properties, Mr. Purcell gave 13-hour eviction notices to tenants, leaving many of them to flee to homeless shelters, other SROs, any friends or family who would take them in, and the street,” LAC said in a statement. “Alderman Cappleman’s solution is for tenants to contact the city to find alternative housing. Similarly, Alderman Tunney has not taken action to preserve these community assets (3 of the 5 buildings reside in the 44th Ward).  One of the SROs is in the 32nd Ward, where Alderman Waguespack has also yet to take action.”

“We don’t own the land. There are certain types of transactions where the city has little or no control.”

The group added that “elected officials will be targeted to use their influence to support affordable housing in the community.”

But Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44th) office says it isn’t that easy. Chief of Staff Bennett Lawson says with instances like the Abbott Hotel and Hotel Chateau, the sale is a private business acquisition and the city has no control.

A similar protest was held by LAC when the Abbott was found to be sold to BJB for a gut-rehab project. Lawson said almost every tenant has already vacated the building and construction will begin once the proper permits are acquired and the last tenatns leave.

Lawson says if the new owner doesn’t need a zoning change, they have little say in what goes on. But that doesn’t mean they’re not trying to provide affordable housing.

“There are certain spaces that I think we have more control, and there are certain spaces we don’t,” Lawson said. “For example, when it comes to preservation, we were able to work at (the apartments at) 501 W. Surf, we are working at housing at the Diplomat and at the LGBT-friendly senior housing units. It’s different in those instances when you have Chicago Housing Authority land.”

Lawson said, when it came to the Abbott Hotel, the alderman’s office helped those people find additional housing, similar to what Ald. James Cappleman (46th) plans to do for Chateau’s residents.

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LAC Board President Erin Ryan said this area simply can’t afford to lose another SRO like Hotel Chateau. That’s why they’re planning the protest Sunday, starting at 1:20 p.m. at the United Church of Christ, located at 615 W. Wellington Ave.

"SRO housing provides an invaluable safety net to thousands in Chicago and we cannot afford to lose 700 in Lake View alone,” said Ryan in the statement. “We need Mr. Purcell and our aldermen at the table with us to create viable solutions for preservation of affordable housing in these buildings. We know there are solutions out there, but we need cooperation from all sides."

But according to Lawson, the marching may have a minimal effect on the outcome.

“We don’t own the land,” Lawson said. “There are certain types of transactions where the city has little or no control.”

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