UPTOWN — Ald. James Cappleman (46th) is mum about the new owners of the Chateau Hotel in Lakeview, but told tenants facing eviction that he would talk to the new ownership about the possibility of subsidizing rent in some units so that some residents can afford to stay after the building is gutted and rehabbed.
Residents were served 30-day eviction notices earlier this week, and activists plan to march on Sunday to protest the loss of hundreds of single-room occupancy units on the North Side in the past year.
Lakeview Action Coalition organizers and Chateau tenants met with Cappleman on Wednesday asking for his support.
They were encouraged by his talk of subsidies, but disappointed that he would not publicly stand with them in their fight.
Cappleman emphasized that there was no legal way he could force the owner to allow the tenants to stay or keep rents affordable, his chief-of-staff Tressa Feher and others at the meeting said.
Cappleman also refused to commit to any public show of support for activists and tenants, Feher said. She said, however, that the alderman "will work with the new owners," to see if there is a possibility for government subsidies in some units.
But the alderman has not even confirmed who the investors are, and Feher said, "I have no idea who it is."
The Chateau Hotel is one of the last remaining single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings in Lakeview, where few other affordable options exist for most SRO residents, many of whom are on a fixed income and can't afford more than the $575 a month it costs to stay in the Chateau.
Cappleman has not returned calls or responded to several requests for comment about the evictions and about the local investors that comprise 3838 North Broadway, the LLC that his office said is taking over the building.
One of the company's lawyers, Mitchell Asher, refused to comment. Asher also represents BJB Properties principal Jamie Purcell, who is rumored to be somehow involved in the new ownership. Purcell did not return calls for comment. Another 3838 North Broadway lawyer, Gerard Walsh, did not return calls for comment as well.
About 150 people live in the building, which has an unsavory reputation among some area businesses and residents because of a history of building code violations, and concerns about crime in and around the building.
At a housing meeting last month, Asher announced that the building would be gutted and renovated.
Residents at the hearing voiced their concerns, and were told by Cappleman that social service agencies would interview them and assess their affordable housing options. It is not clear if they would be allowed to return after the renovation.
LAC representative Sue Gries said that "Whoever the owner is, it should be the alderman who is standing on the side of the tenants."
"That would be in the form of telling us who the owner is so we can arrange a meeting," she said.
Gries said Cappleman should "publicly acknowledge that the tenants should not be kicked out of their homes in the middle of the winter."
Denaice Wright, 47, is unemployed and has lived at the Chateau Hotel since May. She is one of the handful of tenants who visited Cappleman on Wednesday, and she said she left the meeting convinced that "he feels like the Chateau should be closed down."
"All he kept saying was that his hands are tied," Wright said.
She acknowledged that many of the people in the building rely on social services and that some have mental health issues, which might trouble some neighbors, "but they got to live somewhere," she said.
And unless something happens soon in tenants favor, "I'll be homeless," Wright said.