All the pieces are in place for the Viceroy Hotel's transformation to affordable housing. After six years under city protection, the former art-deco flophouse was sold to Heartland Housing in July for $1 and a pledge to bring 89 units of ultra-affordable housing to the southern edge of Union Park. An unspecified number of the units will be transitional housing for women recently released from prison. But before anyone can move in, there's $20 million worth of renovations to be done. Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing, tells The Tribune that, along with city TIF funds, much of the money comes from the state's historic preservation and affordable housing project streams. Work should commence shortly and take a little more than a year.
This project restores much needed affordable housing to the area. From its inception as The Union Park Hotel in 1929 right up through its closing in 2003, the National Landmark Viceroy has met the needs of the homeless and transient, with churches sometimes renting space for the homeless and others paying as little as $20/night for lodging. Of course, do the math and nightly rate apartment hotels are suited only for short-stays— no solution to a housing crisis.
The city paid $5.1M for The Viceroy in 2005, at the height of Near West Side development and property inflation, fearing high-end market conversion. Now that gentrifying forces have receded dramatically and prices in the area have plunged, that type of use seems like fantasy. The new Viceroy will join St. Leonard's settlement housing just a few blocks further west along Warren, as agencies providing beds and social services to ex-felons. An aside: The Tribune article credits the United Center with anchoring "a rebirth of the neighborhood since it opened in 1994". Funny, we were getting ready to nominate it as an epic urban renewal flub.
·Viceroy Hotel about to get a makeover [Trib]
·Landmark Viceroy to be rehabbed this fall [Curbed]
·Another chapter for Chicago's Viceroy Hotel [WBEZ]