UPTOWN — Renovations at the troubled Chateau Hotel by the new, still-anonymous owner will include kitchens in all the units and upgrades in the electrical wiring — and a corresponding jump in rent, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said at a town hall meeting in the ward.
Rent will probably be between $800 and $900, and the units will be aimed at people working in their first jobs or people on fixed incomes, Cappleman said the building's new owner told him. The highest rent at the Chateau is now $575 a month, meaning new rents represent as much as a 57-percent increase.
Chateau Hotel, one of the last independent affordable housing options in Lakeview, has long spurred complaints of fighting, drug dealing and panhandling, and Cappleman took on previous owner Jack Gore to correct the hotel's many code violations.
"I pressured the building owner to shape up or ship off," he said at the meeting in The People's Church in Uptown on Wednesday. "And he chose to ship off."
The building was sold to the 3838 North Broadway LLC, but its owners remain cloaked in secrecy. Cappleman has told reporters he's agreed to keep their identities hidden, and public records do not yet show names.
Affordable housing advocates and Chateau residents fear losing options on the North Side, and the potential rent increases confirm previous suspicions that they would not be able to live in the building after the renovations, resident Elizabeth Hartline said.
Hartline, 49, lived in a homeless shelter for seven months before moving to the Chateau. After losing her job, she was evicted from an apartment and still shows an eviction on her credit report. The Chateau, she said, was one of the few options she found. She now works at Cornerstone Community Outreach for minimum wage.
"Nobody would be able to afford [the new] rent," she said.
Cappleman said any resident who meets with the Department of Child and Family Services will be guaranteed a place to live, but Hartline said her meeting resulted in referrals to homeless shelters.
"That's not a solution," she said.
The alderman cannot legally reserve spots in the renovated Chateau for subsidized housing because it's not a planned development, is not using TIF money and was not owned by the city. His main concern is safety of the building, which he has said had the worst conditions he's ever seen.
"My commitment is to give safe housing," Cappleman said.
But the writing's on the wall, and residents and advocates have been seeking alternative housing. Lakeview Pantry, which has long advocated for residents, has been encouraging them to find new places now instead of later, said Sreya Sankar, the non-profit's director of education and advocacy.
"We don’t want to wait until the last minute and face a really tough situation," she said. "It can be more dangerous."