UPDATE: Alderman speaks at Hotel Chateau hearing as owner plays hooky
Hotel Chateau owner Jack Gore was a no show in Cook County Housing Court Tuesday but his lawyer was there, arriving late and claiming that his client never received official notice of the lawsuit brought on by several violations and failed inspections.
The hotel at 3838 N. Broadway is a single-room occupancy building that is typically used as housing for clients of social service providers. These clients can range from ex-convicts to mental health patients in need of affordable housing. According to records from the Chicago Buildings Department, the hotel has failed 27 city inspections since September 2001 — nine out of 11 were failed this year.
During the hearing, Alderman James Cappleman (46th) and North Halsted Business Alliance Executive Director Jay Lion, were able to speak on behalf of the community.
Several issues were brought up including its effect on Lake View residents, businesses and tourism industry.
“I took a tour of the North Broadway area and talked to as many businesses and residents as I could,” Cappleman said while addressing the court. “The number one complaint I heard was the issues going on at and around the Hotel Chateau.”
Gore could not be reached for comment and his legal representation, Victor Ciardelli, did not address the court. But in an email sent to Cappleman on Nov. 2, Ciardelli said the attacks against the Chateau are merely a way for the alderman to follow through with the threats he made prior to his election in 2011.
“At this point we feel that the Chateau Hotel is being singled out,” Ciardelli said. “If this harassment continues we will have no other alternative but to seek whatever remedies (Jack Gore) has available to him in the Federal District Courts.”
Associate Judge William G. Pileggi presided over the hearing and verbally recognized the community’s concerns about the Chateau, particularly its close proximity to a neighborhood park and the Horace Greeley Elementary School. But Pileggi said he wanted to make it clear that the jurisdiction of Tuesday’s hearing covers only the building’s violations, and that is what his ruling will be based on.
The Chateau faces a hefty list of violations, including damaged fire escapes, missing or broken fire alarms, bathroom mildew buildup on the ceilings and floors, plumbing backups and defective electrical outlets. In the email, Ciardelli said the hotel is a safe and well-run SRO, and that city inspectors found the Chateau in “excellent condition” on previous occasions.
Theodore Tellano, 57, said he has lived at the Hotel Chateau for 10 years. He said the poor maintenance is to blame for the buildings issues, not the tenants.
“They do the cosmetic parts,” Tellano said. “The housekeeping is fine, they paint it so it looks nice on the outside. It’s like they make it look good from far away.”
In addition to mildew, broken windows and leaky pipes in several areas of the building, Tellano said doors are kicked in regularly and the broken locks are either fixed poorly or not replaced at all.
“It happens a lot,” he said. “ They don’t fix stuff properly the first time so they have to keep coming back to do more crap work.”
Representatives from the Lake View Action Coalition attended the meeting wearing buttons that read, “Save Our Home.” Norman Groetzinger has been a member of the coalition for 20 years and also owns several buildings in the area. He said he agrees with the city and thinks Gore should be made to improve the conditions in the building, but he thinks the neighborhood is wrong to accuse the tenants for the area’s increased crime.
“It’s typical to make a building, like the Chateau, a scapegoat for bad things happening in the neighborhood,” Groetzinger said. “But closing it down is extreme and will only hurt the situation. You’ll be putting 138 of its residents out on the street.”
Outside of the courtroom, Cappleman said there is a lack of affordable housing in Chicago and it is not his primary goal to shut down the Chateau. He said it is up to Gore to save the building from closure.
“I believe SRO housing can have a good name in this city again but they have to be maintained well,” Cappleman said. “No building is perfect but Gore has to work with us to keep it safe.”
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