Thursday, September 1, 2011

Free Again

The on-again off-again scaffolding surround Lawrence House is gone for the moment.

In a recent newsletter, Ald. Cappleman said:  "Many people have been calling to ask if Lawrence House (1020 W. Lawrence) has been sold. The answer is that the owners have entertained offers in the past but to my knowledge, no asking price has been formally offered at this time. A potential buyer has recently begun exploring the idea of purchasing this building. The floor plan of smaller rooms encourages this building to remain affordable.

This building has an incredible amount of history, including having silent film star Charlie Chaplin as one of its tenants.

Lawrence House has been in Housing Court due to a number of code violations and their next court hearing is October 13th. In the meantime, work continues on both the exterior and interior of this building."


  1. and all the LH loiterers have set up shop across the street on milk crates. Please call 911 if you see them drinking on the sidewalk there.

  2. Would love to see this beautiful old building cleaned up and filled with decent tenants. I have talked to some of the few good tenants remaining, and they're all looking for other places to live while hoping for deliverance from a new landlord. Assaults in the corridors and burglaries committed by people who have keys to the units are said to be common, as well as unsanitary and hazardous conditions.

    Cleaning up this and the similarly blighted Lorelei should be a priority concern for the ward's new leadership.

  3. It is too bad what has happened to LH. 10 - 15 yrs ago, LH was simply filled with seniors that didn't cause anyone any trouble. It would be nice if it returns to that.

  4. I have had many arguments with representatives from social service organizations about the conduct of their members in places like this, they seem to feel that their clients are blameless in creating the horrific conditions in this place and many others. I disagree. Life is all about choices, and they make poor ones.
    It should be a goal to make social workers obsolete , not create more social worker jobs, which is where we're heading.

  5. And these organizations recruit tenants of these buildings to further their cause. These folks proudly wear their t-shirts everywhere they go, and to me, not clearly or completely understanding the politics involved. I know I have been "talked to" many times about how unfair it is for me to expect to go to public places and not get panhandled or harassed.
    More social services mean more taxes, and they're not going to tax the rich, it's going to be the disappearing middle-class and the working poor. Everybody loses, and we have more people sitting on their butts not doing anything useful. I've fed up with it.

  6. Actually CP, the more community based social services there are, the lower the costs to the tax payer. It is an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure.

  7. Well, sure, it's more complicated than what we've said here, but having been a client of these services in the past, I knew many of my "peers" could have done without the services and worked fulltime to support themselves.
    To me creating more "affordable" housing and more gimmes just leads to more guys like this who could be contributing to society.

  8. @ CP

    I live in affordable housing and find your conclusions just plain wrong and misleading.

    These services were there when you needed them. less then perfect or up to your "standards"they may be........ but you used them none-the-less right?

    So you would have been better off without those services now that you don't need them?

  9. Too much "affordable housing" in one location/one building.

    Anyways I hope someone goes beyond the exploration phase and buys this building and does something awesome with it.

    I also think it would be a good idea for uptown update to do a once weekly expose on the problem buildings, the ones that are the root cause for the violence/mayhem in Uptown.

    Its good to focus on the good, but if you only talk about it evertime someone gets shot or killed, well.....

    Thats why I like the updates on L House, a particularly troubled building that hopefully fits into the Uptown Music Center future.

  10. I am not sure sometimes Uptown is ready for a "Music District".

    Do we have an interesting cultural product to present the spending public?

    A BIG difference between a "Music District", and a "Venue Cluster". I could sound off examples of both...we all can.

    A great deal of "High-Culture" resides in the "Low-Income" properties of Uptown. This I know is true.

    I would love to go on....but this message may not get published so no worry, that is it for now.

    But this was about scaffolding...........coming down....a good

  11. Well, your mileage may vary. Your experiences may be different than mine.
    For all the hundreds of people that my social service organizations service, there are the squeakiest wheels that get the grease. For every few really sick people (like myself) there were a few more of those who put forth tremendous effort into hustling, begging, borrowing, stealing and preying on the weaker members of said social service organization. There really didn't seem to be anything wrong with them in my eyes, and they could have put that effort into working, instead. I could be wrong but that's what I experienced. Social workers and others tend to be very open-minded and I'll repeat, feel that most people in places are entirely blameless for their troubles. I disagree with that philosophy, just because I used these services doesn't mean I agree with the party line. I am bitter and spiteful about these people because every place I've lived where the majority of tenants are placed by various Chicago social service agencies, well, I felt like a piece of raw bloody meat in a tank full of pirahnas. Making friends with people in say, the Lawrence House was out of the question because you would soon find you apartment was robbed soon after having "friends" over. I'm positive there are good people living in there, but like me, they avoided friendships in the building because of the very visible criminals prowling the building looking for victims.
    For about a year and a half I was screwed with everytime I left my room, especially in the lobby and right outside the front door. People lurking in front of the building had something to sell, whether it be stolen goods, sex or drugs, and they didn't want to take "No" for an answer. After about 10 months of only sleeping in my apartment and avoiding Uptown alltogether, it got tiresome. It gets old really fast that people around you only care about what they can steal, what they can beg, what they can sell to you and not care about you as a person.
    I'm gone now and when I see people on the street they are friendly and sober and care to know who I am as a person if we engage in conversation. I never had that in Uptown.
    I might have been better off finding my own way than dealing with some of the people I've dealt with in the past few years. I have severe compassion fatigue.

  12. And, Littleton Arts Uptown, I'm sure that wherever you live does not have the extremely large amount of social service members that the Lawrence House or the Lorelai does. If you spent a week running the gauntlet of that section of Lawrence, you might be more attuned to my point of view.
    The incident that clinched it was I had a desperate need for some Benadryl so I went to our new Target right before they closed. Walking back down Broadway I was approached several times in the manner I described before. When I got to the front door, a guy ran up to me and shoved a trial size bottle of Excedrin in my face. The following is in his vernacular: "You need this fo' yo' headache...." and I said I didn't have cash. He backed off about two feet and got this wild look in his eyes and said "Well, how abouts a dollah?" and I said "I don't have cash", he points to my Target bag and stomps really hard, like he's about to have a tantrum
    "TWO QUARTERS THEN!!!!!" and the front desk finally buzzed me in as he lunged towards me. Eight months before that he had been parked in front of the building and demanded I buy some cassette tapes. When I declined, he said he's just a (racial epithet) because I didn't want his wares. He did have a tantrum then, punching the building. The front desk refused to call the police for me, they said I'd have to wait until Monday to tell (former manager) Mr. Quinn about it, since the guy claimed to live in our building.Useless, the whole situation.

  13. @ "CP"

    "If you spent a week running the gauntlet of that section of Lawrence, you might be more attuned to my point of view." You say.


    I live down-the-street-round-da-corner from the Lawrence House.

    For cryin' in a bucket...........I've been up and down that block 1000's O times......since the late 70's.......

    Hope everyone had a nice Labor Holiday!

  14. everyone deserves humanity, to be cared for and have a safe place to live. this building provides shelter only at a monetary cist and a psychological cost. living in fear achieves nothing and creates more damaged lives. i have come to believe that some people cant accept any aspect of responsibility. in some cases, by choice. people in need are in need of much more than money. they need to feel safe and cared for. its a shame people struggling for various reasons are living in a fearful environment. sad. @ LTA remain positive. i dont know what your life is like, but i believe you are trying to make this world a better place. Thank you for that! the badbdoes seem to out weigh the good. Touching one life positively, should result in a positive snowball effect. we always dwell on the bad

  15. @Littleton - scaffolding coming down really just moves the drinkers, peddlers, and dealers elsewhere. so coming down = a good thing? depends on your perspective...

  16. LAU: Maybe we should arrange for you to actually live IN the Lawrence house for a few weeks.
    Have you ever had your clothes stolen from the washer and have somebody try to sell them back to you?
    Have you ever been on the elevator where you live and four large men come on, one of them holds you while another goes through your pockets?
    Ever had somebody come into your apartment through the fire escape and take anything and everything of value, including food from your fridge?
    Ever had the apartment's former tenant who still has the key come in high or drunk with company?
    Ever get on the elevator and see a 60 year old woman,crumpled on the floor, clothing ripped and in tears because some tenant raped her?
    These things happen all the time in the Lawrence House. And I could write 200 more pages of petty stuff that doesn't happen that often anywhere else.
    Just because I use/used a social service agency doesn't mean I have to suddenly adopt their attitude and politics, that would make it more like a cult than anything.

  17. Thanks CP...

    But if I move into the Lawerence House "Meg" and "Jeffo" won't like me anymore......

    And I am already pretty low-brow as it is........

    I have a grreat idea for the LH.......will tell.

  18. I like plenty of people in the LH. I also fear for their safety. I dislike the folks who live elsewhere (and some inside too!) who prey on the vulnerable residents, like the instances that CP provided for you. I think we can all agree that anyone being subjected to that sort of crime is NOT progress. It can be the prettiest building on the outside, but until the inside is cleaned up, any "progress" is meager at best. I think the phrase is the "you can put lipstick on a pig..." LOL

  19. i want to live in affordable housing

  20. I live in LH, and I have lived here for the past four years. Several of you are spreading unsubstantiated rumors. I have never experienced any of the problems you so casually allege to be common here, and I doubt that you could find any police reports to support the veracity of your rumors.

    It may be convenient to use wheel chair bound people, elderly people, people who can barely speak, people who need canes just to get around, disabled veterans, and cancer victims, as scapegoats for violence, thereby justifying the apparently popular policy of evicting people who, based on little more than rumors, are commonly considered undesirable. Perhaps the Kantian admonition to treat each individual as an end in him or herself, rather than as a means to our own ends, is too inconvenient in these modern times.

    I have quite a bit more I could say, e.g., about Socrates and Galileo (hmmm, I wonder what they could have to do with all this), but I doubt that it would get posted because it is too unpopular. For example, I have reason to suspect--and I emphasize that, at this point, this is only a suspicion--that the City of Chicago is not acting out of concern for LH residents, but is instead avoiding the type of political backlash that might follow a "Kelo-style" taking (as in Susette Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut) by simply pressuring the owners of LH to sell the property to someone who would provide housing for high income people, thereby enhancing the tax base.

    One of you claims to be a former LH resident. In my opinion, your claims of dreadful LH experiences have crossed the line of credibility. Loose, unsubstantiated allegations, bereft of detail, of rape, robbery, etc., as well as confident, yet clearly hasty, generalizations concerning the motivations of large groups of people, each of whom should have a legal right to withhold their personal information from you, smack more of delusion and/or rancor than of truth.

  21. "joey" I call shenanigans, nobody I knew in the year and few months I lived in the Lawrence House, or even the misguided community activists who dismissed the bad behavior around there as acceptable had that kind of intelligence and vocabulary. If you actually lived there, being as educated as you are, you would be disgusted by the nonsense that happens around the clock there. What motivation drives you to tell us that this place isn't a craphole filled with undesirables? I can go past there on the bus RIGHT NOW and see drug dealers hanging out nearby. I can see the same sorry people who spend 12 hours a day loitering around the lobby or the front door. One of my "favorite" druggies would argue with her boyfriend and pull the fire alarm when the argument didn't go her way, usually this happened in the middle of the night.
    The agencies that filled with place with people who need structure and aren't getting any should be ashamed of themselves that they created a "perfection storm" of incredible dysfunction.

  22. Would it be OK to talk about the plumbing and HVAC upgrade LH is going to need? Perhaps the biggest hurdle, the mechanicals.

    Or...are all Lawrence House comments restricted to all of this DRAMA?

    I need to ask first because that is a complicated subject in regards to this particular property. It hasn't been mentioned yet to my knowledge.

  23. I can talk about that, too.
    In my humble opinion it would cost more than it's worth to correct all the outdated amenities at the Lawrence House. I know Uptown Updaters are big fans of preserving history, but it would be easier to knock the place down and rebuild it as something else.
    While I was there I had frequent problems with the plumbing. The wiring in my room was also outdated and substandard, the fuse would frequently go out when I was only running the fridge, the clock radio and a nebulizer. The shower would randomly go scalding as my neighbors flushed their toilets. The lighting in the hallways was a sickly, greasy yellow that was hard to see anything with. Right before I broke my lease, there was a MASSIVE waterfall coming out of the light socket nearest to the cargo elevator, it was being caught by a large trashcan. The water leak has pretty much destroyed the library and the books in it. The elevators make horrible sounds and frequently one of them was inoperable. The most petty thing was the front door buzzer, hooligans would break the button to alert the front desk that you wanted in. The whole building smells of mold and mildew.

  24. I meant if it was OK if I commented about it.

  25. I've said it before but CP is right. LH is too far gone to be rehabbed. We've heard from the Ald that the layout/roomsizes limit it to affordable housing and we also know it faces substantial problems...water damage, mold, HVAC problems, electrical problems, bug infestations, ongoing façade issues, etc.

    The costs to fix this place will be astronomical and with the likely tenant income to be low, they'll never be made, it would be financial suicide.

    Eventually the owners will get tired of the housing court troubles and either be foreclosed on or walk away. The building will be boarded up and when the economy improves, it will be razed and redeveloped, most likely as a low rise commercial strip.

  26. @ Alek

    I am sure you have "said it before", but your totally wrong.

    The Lawrence House is VERY solid structurally, it is not getting demolished for a strip-mall.

    Good grief.