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Lakeview Hotel Disrupts Local Businesses

When Mary Anne Barfield opens her business, B&K Office and Art, in Lakeview, strangers usually greet her outside the door. But instead of stamps or stationery, they want food or her spare change.

When she leaves for the night, they are still outside roaming the block, which is why Barfield closes her store at 7 p.m.

“I wouldn’t want to be here after eight,” she said. “The area changes drastically.”

Barfield, along with other business owners and workers on Broadway Avenue, said loiterers are keeping people away from their businesses — and the Chateau Hotel, located at 3838 N. Broadway St., is the main cause of their headaches.

“That is the problem,” Barfield said. “That’s where they come out and loiter.”

According to Barfield, the Chateau Hotel is an inexpensive, transient hotel where prostitution, drug use and violence are common.

A hotel manager said he could not disclose prices over the phone but said a one-night stay would be under $100.

Barfield said she understands the people in the hotel need a place to stay, but they are keeping customers away from her store, located directly across from the hotel at 3837 N. Broadway St.

“I don’t want them in front of my store because it discourages customers from coming in, but where do they go? They move down to Subway. They go by Starbucks,” she said.

Fabian Aguirre, 18, an employee at Subway, located at 3821 N. Broadway St., said because the restaurant is open until midnight, loiterers from the hotel try to hang out inside or receive free food.

“Sometimes we have them come in here and try to stay here, and we kick them out,” Aguirre said.

He said when loiterers are not in Subway, they stand in front of the hotel, smoke cigarettes and “do nothing.”

Over the 36 years Barfield has been in the community, she said she has done everything from community walks to meetings with police and residents in order to clean up the hotel.

“We’ve addressed the issue with them across the street. We’ve addressed it with the commander,” she said. “It’s like, well, what do we do?”

According to Barfield, the community has brought Chateau Hotel owner Jack Gore to court multiple times, and altogether the hotel has 89 building and code violations.

Gore could not be located and did not return phone calls for this article.

Denice Davis, chief of staff to Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), could not confirm the number of violations, but said she knows the city previously asked the hotel owner to take care of a flooding issue in the basement as well as a rodent problem. The Chateau Hotel is located at the border of Uptown within the 46th Ward.

Barfield said she sometimes speaks with guests of the hotel, and they tell her of the unsafe conditions inside the building.

“A few people come into the store who live there, so I talk to them to find out what’s going on, and they tell me how bad it is in there,” she said. “It’s a problem, and they move these people in until an ambulance takes them away or something.”

In 2008, three people died in a room at the hotel from an apparent drug overdose, according to news reports.

Despite the hotel’s bad publicity, Davis said the Chateau Hotel, which has been in business before she began working for the ward in 1989, is not as bad as some say.

“The Chateau has been there for years, and unfortunately, just like a lot of other things in our area, when people move in they see what they deem as eyesores,” Davis said. “If you think it’s bad, help to make it better, don’t just sit back and judge it.”

Davis said hotel management follows strict safety precautions such as requiring a state identification card or driver’s license and also run a criminal background check before allowing someone to stay there.

Management runs background checks in order to prevent sex offenders from staying there because of the hotel’s close proximity to Gill Park, located at 825 W. Sheridan Road, and Horace Greeley Elementary School, located at 832 W. Sheridan Road, according to Davis.

She said she does not want to paint a “pearly picture of heaven” about the hotel, but the reality is some people need a place to stay, and business owners should take that into consideration.

“If they’re so worried about it, why don’t they go in there and offer one of them a job?” Davis said. “Let them clean your sidewalk. Let them mop your floors, if you’re so concerned. If not, then run your business.”

Barfield said she relies on the 23rd District police officers to patrol the area, but they can only do so much, because loiterers usually come back.

That is where the local community groups come in.

Jay Lyon, executive director of Lakeview’s Northalsted Business Alliance, said the alliance established a safety council, which works with the police department, neighborhood groups, and social service organizations such as the Center on Halsted, Broadway Youth Center and Night Ministry to keep the community safe.

Lyon said cracking down on loiterers is not as easy as it sounds due to the lack of anti-loitering laws.

“The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-loitering laws, so from a legal standpoint, unless someone is breaking the law, including disturbing the peace, the police are limited in what they can do,” he said.

However, the council found a different approach to the overarching issue of loitering in Lakeview and recently began to coordinate educational programs such as court ad seminars, which train residents how to represent their community in a courtroom after police make an arrest.

The next court advocacy meeting for the 23 rd District is scheduled for May 25.

Jim Ludwig, owner of Roscoe’s Tavern, located at 3356 N. Halsted St., and member of the Northalsted Safety Council, said at a CAPS meeting he believes speaking directly to individuals who are disrupting businesses is the best solution to the problem.

“Hanging out is not an illegal activity, and the more we can engage the people that are just hanging out looking for nothing to do, we’re going to have more success as the time goes on,” Ludwig said.

But Barfield plans to stay inside her store for now.

As she fixed the antennas on the small TV she keeps next to her register, she glanced out her door, across to the hotel, where a group of men stood outside.

“What are you going to do?” she said. “It is all a part of the area here. And I don’t think we’re going to clean it up. Not when you have places like that.”

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