Thursday, January 27, 2011

There's A Lot Of Money In Low-Income Housing

Interesting! We're hearing that 1325 West Wilson just went on the market for $5.695 million.  It's the building that houses the Cupcake Gallery, Fontana Grill, and a currently empty storefront.

The Norman Hotel was built in 1929 and "was designed by Albert S. Hecht, who was known for his hotels and apartments as well as his exquisite use of terra cotta," according to the Uptown Chicago History blog.

Its recent history hasn't been as pretty.  It was a dive, and the first affordable housing joint venture by developer Peter Holsten under the reign of brand new alderman Helen Shiller, back in March of 1988 (read UU's story about it here).

Holsten bought it for $750,000, and there were high hopes that the fleabag building would become respectable under his ownership (The Reader's December 1988 article about it is here).  It was even the first home of Inspiration Cafe, at 1319 W Wilson, in 1991 (Holsten tore up their first month's rent check for the cameras at the grand opening).

But things didn't go so well.  According to researcher and commenter Hugh, "Peter M. & Debra A. Holsten acquired the Norman Hotel, 1325 W Wilson, AKA 4557 N Beacon, PIN 14-17-116-001, on 6/1/87 and tapped out 9/29/98 after an atrocious record of more than a decade of water arrears, mechanics liens, and court judgments."

More recently, under the control of Circle Management, it's a troubled building that's been in and out of housing court during most of the past decade.  Owner John Klise has had a history of problem buildings in the 46th and 48th Wards, and Ald. Smith worked with the Chicago Department of Housing to yank rental subsidies from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund from the Klise/Circle buildings in her ward.

We hope a new owner and new management company can be found for this fine old building and make it, once again, a respectable neighbor. If you've got any buddies with a cool five and a half million lying around, let 'em know about it, okay?


  1. Interesting story, for sure.
    A Low/No income high-rise, or a 13 story 'fish farm''s all good!

  2. And I'm sure Holsten will make a nice profit off of Wilson Yard when he ultimately sells off his interest there.

    We're lucky the Norman Hotel isn't within the WY TIF bounderies or it would be a sure thing that Helen would be trying grab this building too.

  3. I wonder what would happen if we simply let market forces prevail for once...?

  4. That would be crazy, Stash. The whole system of propping up a small group of northside radicals in exchange for preferential treatment in land deals would collapse. How else would small-time guys get into the business? How else would the small group of radicals get to stay politically relevant for so long?