DNAinfo.com: Troubled Chateau Hotel up to code, but residents still seek new homes

By Serena Dai

DALEY CENTER — The imminent dangers at the troubled Chateau Hotel have been fixed.

Major safety issues in the building at 3838 N. Broadway have been resolved, and the building is now up to city standards, a fire marshal said at Tuesday court hearing about the single resident occupancy hotel.

New owner 3838 North Broadway LLC  has fixed immediate problems including broken garbage chutes, a faulty fire alarm system and missing sprinkler heads, officials said. The Chicago Fire Department told the court that the building is now up to code.

“The bottom line is that the building has been brought into compliance,” Judge William Pileggi said.

That means there’s no risk that the Fire Department will jump in to shut down the building, thus extending the timeline for residents to find new places to live, said Alan Mills, a lawyer for Uptown People’s Law Center, which is filing an intervention on behalf of tenants.

Chateau Hotel, one of the last independent affordable housing facilities in Lakeview, has long been the subject of complaints of drug dealing, fighting and panhandling. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) had vowed to clean it up and pressured the owner to make changes or leave.

Cappleman has told reporters that he’s agreed to keep the identity of the hotel’s owners secret; public records revealing their identities have not been filed yet.

The next step: former owner Jack Gore and the city will be entering pretrial negotiations on April 4 to discuss how much money Gore will have to pay in fines for leaving the Chateau in shambles. The city offered a settlement, but Gore rejected it, lawyers said.

Many residents plan on staying at the Chateau until the new owners decide to start renovations. But of the 140 units, the court said, only about half are occupied. Residents say the number is actually even fewer as people seek alternate housing.

Some 25 residents were handed eviction notices to get out by last weekend, and many current residents complain of management not accepting rent checks.

“It’s been so vacant the past two months,” said Ra-Von Pugh, 36, who’s lived in the building for seven years.

Empty units will be boarded up, and any potential flammable items will be removed.  After renovations, people who live there now are unlikely to afford a new unit. Cappleman said new owners told him monthly rents would be between $800 and $900 — or as much as 57 percent more than the current rent of $575.

Residents and Lakeview Action Coalition still plan to protest in front of the hotel at 6 p.m.  Thursday in hopes of keeping it open. But the search is already on for alternative housing.

“Plan B is to find another place,” Pugh said.