LAKEVIEW — Falling ceilings, flooded floors and a void of information have finally pushed out most of the remaining businesses on the ground floor of the Chateau Hotel.
Charbella Hair and Barber moved across the street to 3837 N. Broadway after going through housing court with the new owners of the building, said Victoria Smith, the owner of the 15-year-old business.
She refused to pay rent in April and May after plumbing issues in the building sent water pouring down onto two hair stations and the landlord never sent repairmen to fix it, she said. The problems caused some $15,000 in damage and lost business, she added.
Water continued to drip into her store, and she resorted to patching the ceiling with plywood, she said.
After meeting with lawyers of 3838 N. Broadway LLC, the owners of the building, Smith agreed to pay June's rent and leave at the end of the month.
"This building is a menace," she said. "It got worse."
Now just three businesses remain out of the seven storefronts from 3820-3836 N. Broadway, Nearly New Bikes, Jimmy's Nails and Hanshaw Custom Tailoring.
Ismat Fashion left the building, and its storefront now displays a bright green poster with its new address in Uptown at 4084 N. Broadway. That location was closed, had no signs and appeared to only contain office furniture.
Nearly New Bikes plans to move to a different storefront in the neighborhood as soon as possible. No information about possible new locations for Hanshaw Custom Tailoring and Jimmy's Nails was available.
Chateau Hotel, previously a single-resident occupancy hotel, has long been a source of contention in the neighborhood. Neighbors complained that it attracted fighting, panhandling and drug dealing, but its sale ignited protests from activists who say few other independent housing options remain on the North Side.
The four remaining residential tenants living upstairs have until Friday to leave after a judge's ruling last week. New owners plan to gut the building to turn it into market-rate housing.
The building started having issues long ago with former owner Jack Gore, who ignored ceiling damage in Smith's salon for years, Smith said. But the new owners also did not respond to requests for repair.
A hole in the ceiling outside of Nearly New Bikes, a popular used bike and repair shop at 3826 N. Broadway St., is a result of a piece of ceiling suddenly dropping a few weeks ago.
Business tenants have also largely been in the dark about the details surrounding their storefronts, with little word on whether they could return to space that many have occupied for more than a decade.
"They don't have a good dialog with us at all," a woman who works at Ismat Fashion said previously. "They're tricky."
Mitchell Asher, a lawyer representing the new owners, declined to comment.
Ald. James Cappleman's (46th) office, which has been the primary source of information about the building as the owners remained silent, knew nothing of what was happening to the retail portion of the building.
Despite protests and migrating businesses, many people in the neighborhood consider the Chateau Hotel's demise an opportunity for growth. At a recent East Lake View Neighbors meeting, local businessman David Gassman requested zoning changes on some of his buildings, which are across the street from the Chateau.
Now that the Chateau was gone, he said, he felt like he could finally invest in improving buildings he's owned for more than 20 years.
"Now, finally it's happening," he said, referring to the closing of the Chateau. "Now it's time to do something on my side."