UPTOWN — Tenants of the Wilson Men's Hotel, who are being forced to move out after the building was sold, said noisy and dusty construction at the site already has begun, making their lives miserable in their final days in the hotel.
The residents of the single-room-occupancy hotel at 1124 W. Wilson Ave. said extensive work appears to be going on even though many of the 150 residents have yet to move out.
"They started the demolition process while we're still in there ... knocking holes in the ceiling over our heads. Right above people’s head. You can hear people hollering ‘Stop throwing that dust in here,'" tenant Eric Holmes Sr. said.
The building was sold to City Pads, which also bought another SRO, the former Hazelton Hotel at 851 W. Montrose Ave., in July.
Andrew Ahitow, founder of City Pads, said the recent work is "light remodeling" and plumbing repairs.
The "light remodeling [is] to get the transition office open, which is nearing completion," he said.
Ahitow has vowed to work with ONE Northside and the tenants association to "create a desirable, effective and safe relocation plan" for the residents.
Ahitow wouldn't answer more questions, but he said an announcement about the transition process would be made next week.
Tenant Tommie Hannah captured some of the work being done on the building. [Provided]
But the work is occurring on every floor in the building, tenants said.
Holmes, who said he has experience in building construction, said the work looks too extensive for a building still in use. Video shows a man on a ladder jamming a large 2-by-4 into the ceiling as debris falls to the ground.
The workers, who started at the beginning of the month, look like they are prepping the building to add a fourth floor, he said.
"We have massive holes. You can walk in, look up and see all three floors," he said. "There’s people that live above there, too. There’s batting on their floor, and there’s people living [and] there sleeping there."
Rooms in the SRO building have an open ceiling with a cage stretching across the top and walls that don't reach the floor. That setup means dust creeps into every room on the floor, he said.
On several occasions, the work, which is "very loud," has awakened 50-year-old Lamont Burnett, he said.
Burnett, who moved to the hotel after suffering a stroke about 10 years ago, said he fears the dust is affecting his health.
"I noticed my breathing has become very shallow," said Burnett. He said while construction wasn't supposed to begin until the residents were moved out in about six months, "it seems like the construction is already going on. They're putting holes in the ceiling. I don't know what they're doing."
Tenants have complained about dust getting on everything in their rooms. [Provided/Tommie Hannah]