Since the collapse of the U.S. housing market and subsequent economic downturn, homes and businesses have become increasingly been boarded up. Landscapes once rife with jobs and businesses have become a wasteland of boarded-up buildings, dilapidated factories.
The proliferation of abandoned homes and buildings across America has underlined the global urban decay that cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland know all too well. Each of those cities has undergone comprehensive renovation efforts designed to beautify once dilapidated buildings and reimagine them as urban cultural sites, or restore them to prior glory. Programs like focus on restoring sites throughout the city from apartment buildings to .
One example in this wave of urban renewal is “The Purple Hotel”.
The Purple Hotel is an (in)famous building in Skokie, Illinois that was closed in 2007 after 45 years in business. Despite its current dilapidated state, the building holds a lot of local history and though it has become an eyesore, it once presided over Skokie with a sort of majestic glow.
Teamsters leader Allen
Dorfman—a close associate of Jimmy Hoffa—was murdered in the Purple Hotel parking lot in 1983. As the chief prosecution witness in the 2008 corruption trial of political fundraiser Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine testified he had engaged in all-day, drug-fueled parties in the hotel with high-profile guests.
Throughout its four and a half decades at the corner of North Lincoln and West Touhy avenues, the hotel has been a Hyatt, Radisson and Ramada, only to officially adopt its longtime moniker “The Purple Hotel” in 2004 under independent management.
Just when it looked like this building would be demolished by an outside firm, one sentimental investor threw his hat in the ring and could have a substantial effect on the future of the building and of Skokie itself.
Erez Baver, president of Skokie-based North Capital Group, says he will complete the purchase of a defaulted loan on the Purple Hotel before the end of the year. Mr. Baver has chosen Weiss Properties Inc., also of Skokie, to redevelop the site with a gutted and expanded hotel and retail, if he is able to take control of the property.
“There’s so much history and so many memories with the building,” Mr. Baver says. “The building is still structurally sound. Our hope is to keep the hotel piece, add in convention and meeting space, and really make it a destination.”
Baver hopes to secure the property form the Bae family, a father-son duo who own the building and recently filed for Chapter 11 protection.
The effort is more widespread than just the hotel. The North Capital-Weiss venture would seek to purchase two more properties from the Bae family who currently own the building, presumably to network each of them into a cohesive business district in the city.
Regarding the hotel, the plan is to preserve the 293-room building but not the name, Baver says. He envisions bringing in a national hotel brand but operating it as a boutique hotel, a sort of standout version of a popular brand. Baver says an expansion would add enough banquet and meeting space to accommodate conventions for as many as 800 people.
This Chicago redevelopment project represents a promising sign for rejuvenation efforts throughout the country that hopefully will inspire other venture capitalists to turn around the empty buildings towering in their wake.
Take a Tour Inside the Infamous Purple Hotel
Take a look at some of the galleries we found on the web with pictures of the Purple Hotel in its current state.