I recently got word from Bob Zuley, a reporter and affordable housing advocate in Lakeview, that another single room occupancy hotel was closing--the Abbott-- leaving its 37 residents scrambling to find housing before the year is done.
I interviewed Zuley a few weeks back about his years of reporting on these single room occupancy hotels, or SROs. They're old-school residential housing that allows people to rent a single furnished room by the day, week or month. Although a lot of neighborhood residents don't like them, SROs provide affordable housing for people who work as cab drivers or store clerks and often operate as the housing of last resort for people on the margins.
Anyway, back to the Abbott. The building was bought in August by BJB Properties, owned by Chicago real estate mogul Jamie Purcell. He has bought a handful of Lakeview SROs--the Ambers, the Bel-Air, and Sheffield House-- and is in the process of converting them to upscale rental housing. The BJB property website advertises shiny units with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, much nicer than it used to be, but no longer marketed to the buildings' former clientele. Purcell didn't my return calls seeking comment.
The Abbott is still open, temporarily. Bob says residents told him that rent was jacked up $10 a day a few months back, making it much harder for poor people to afford to stay. The remaining 37 residents have been told they'll need to find a new place to live by the end of the year, when the building will be closed for renovations.
When I sat down with Bob, he had loads of information on Lakeview's dwindling SROs. I compiled it into this Google map, complete with pictures of the buildings, information on its current status and links to stories about the building. Take a look:
View Disappearing Lakeview SROs in a larger map
I'm working on some more data and maps of SROs citywide, plus more about the Chateau, the one remaining Lakeview SRO that hasn't been sold or closed. Stay tuned.