Some guests of a transient hotel are not making themselves welcome in Uptown. Community members have complained about vagrancy and gang activity near the 140-unit building that has some longer-term residents as well.
At a recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meeting, Sgt. Edward O’Reilly reported complaints of vagrancy and gang activity around the Chateau Hotel, 3838 N. Broadway St. The hotel is located next to Gill Park playground, which worries parents and other area residents who say they don’t want children’s safety jeopardized.
Barbara Cozzi, an Uptown resident, attended several community meetings about the hotel. Drug deals, prostitution, drunkenness, aggressive panhandling and congregating around the play lot are all a concern, she said.
“Most people I know in the neighborhood will not use the park,” Cozzi said. “They don’t feel safe.”
O’Reilly said police officers are doing all they can to help residents feel safe, but it is a difficult situation to control. Anyone who calls with a complaint must stay with the perpetrators until the police arrive, something most resident do not want to do, he said.
However, some say there may be others ways of handling such complaints.
“[The police] are deliberately making this hard,” said Wesley Skogan, professor at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research. To make an arrest without seeing an actual crime committed, police do need a witness, he said, but if necessary they could “storm” the area in order to secure safety.
Horace Greeley Elementary School, 832 W. Sheridan St., is about 600 feet from the hotel. Two years ago, the school’s principal, Carlos Azcoitia, tried to reduce loitering near the school and Gill Park after hearing parents’ concerns of possible drug deals.
“We wanted to alert the community to close or better manage the hotel,” Azcoitia said. He believed parents and teachers would send a clear message that the school wanted immediate action.
Since that time, there have not been problems or complaints during school hours. Instead, Azcoitia said, suspect activity occurs in late afternoon and evening hours.
Hotel owner Jack Gore did not return calls and could not be located during or after business hours. Staff declined to comment for this article.
Denice Davis, chief of staff to Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), said the office is making efforts to fix the situation. She said it is a complicated issue because most of the hotel guests cannot afford anything else. Chateau Hotel offers a place to stay for those with bad credit or people who cannot pay for an apartment, Davis said.
Guests of Chateau Hotel can pay per night ($70), week ($160) or month ($565).
“I’m not going to say things don’t happen there,” Davis said. “It’s not the best of the best, but it is better than nothing at all.”
Davis said she recently called the hotel’s owner, Gore, asking him to “clean up” the hotel and tighten up on rules and regulations, such as public drinking outside the hotel.
Residents of the hotel say it is a decent establishment. “I ain’t got nowhere else to go that I can afford,” said Dorothy Robie, who has lived at the hotel for four years. “It’s gotten better over the years but certain people could move out.”
Bonita Slick, another resident, agreed. “It’s a good hotel,” Slick said. “But there are some bad people that give it a bad name.”
Paul Bauch, a community member and lawyer who attended the Sept. 19 CAPS meeting, said the concern goes beyond disruptive hotel guests.
“This is an ongoing problem because it is a social issue as opposed to a police issue,” Bauch said. “[The hotel] is in a bad location; the neighborhood is gentrifying around it, but you can’t just shut down a building because you don’t like the sort of people living in it.”
O’Reilly urged all residents to call the police when they see anything suspicious around the hotel, and to attend subsequent court hearings for offenders.
“We’re here 24 hours to work with you on these issues of concern,” said O’Reilly, who has patrolled the area for nearly 34 years.
Some residents are doubtful that the incidents surrounding the hotel can be solved easily.
“The reality is that the hotel is going be there until it’s forced to shut down,” Bauch said.
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46th ward caps chateau hotel transient uptown