LAKEVIEW — A Lakeview developer and local business leaders say the shuttering of the Chateau Hotel has inspired them to invest in an area they previously tried to avoid.
Saxony Capital LLC wants to turn the Mobil gas station at 3901 N. Broadway into a seven-story apartment and retail building, according to Abby Sullivan, an aide to Ald. James Cappleman (46th). Property owner David Gassman said he planned to upgrade several buildings across from the Chateau since it closed.
"Now that the Chateau is gone, people are looking to develop," Sullivan said.
Nearby Gill Park is gaining momentum, too. A project to upgrade the park that started two years ago now just needs to be pushed "over the finish line," said Alan Bell, who's been spearheading the project. Engaging people to donate has been easier with the hotel's closure, he said.
"I don’t want to malign the Chateau, but the reality is that people were very concerned about even being near the building," Bell said. "It’s a tough obstacle to get past. [It's closure] certainly opens up a wealth of opportunities."
The hotel was previously a single-resident occupancy building and long a source of contention in the neighborhood. Many locals complained 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 new owners plan to gut the building and turn it into market-rate housing.
Already, Saxony Capital is requesting a zoning change from the alderman to build, Sullivan told East Lake View Neighbors.
The new building would have 90 units, 50 parking spaces, nearly 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail and a rooftop garden above the garage, according to an architectural plan. Saxony Capital has examined the area and found no leaks, Sullivan said.
Developers will be presenting a formal plan to East Lake View Neighbors in September before Cappleman signs off on changes.
Earlier this summer, the owner of nearly all the buildings on the east side of 3800 N. Broadway, Gassman, asked for a zoning change so that he could unify the height of his properties.
He's not sure what he's doing yet, but the shuttering of the hotel prompted him to think about investments, he said.
Bell said the Unity Green at Gill Park project, which would upgrade equipment and entry points to the park at 825 W. Sheridan Road, is just $40,000 short from its fundraising goal to complete those projects. The park already has $460,000 ready to go, Bell said.
Before, some people feared upgrades would not be kept up because of the Chateau's proximity, he said.
"I think now there’s a sense that this is just the start of something really great," Bell said.
Community groups are also trying to attract more families to the park by hosting a "Back to School" bash there, featuring a bouncy house, face painting and free school supplies.
"Since Chateau is closed, we're trying to bring more families to Gill Park," said Gus Isacson, the executive director of Central Lakeview Merchants.
Despite perception that the area is now safer without the Chateau, a few girls in the park shrugged when asked about any changes.
Sisters Ramat, 11, and Beatrice, 13, have been visiting Gill Park in the summers for about three years now, and they've always felt safe, regardless of whether the hotel's been open.
"It's been the same either way," Ramat said.