What Housing Crisis? Chicago About to Lose Another SRO

As Chicago continues its march toward Manhattanization, the working poor are being pushed further and further to the city’s margins.  The broad shoulders who make the city run, grandparents, and people just trying to get back on their feet again find it increasingly hard to live in the city they call home.

The latest blow comes in Uptown, where developers have filed the paperwork to turn one of Chicago’s few remaining SRO’s into market-rate housing.

The Lorali (via Apple Maps)
The Lorali (via Apple Maps)

The building in question is The Lorali, also known as The Lorali Hotel, located at 1039 West Lawrence Avenue in Uptown.  Until recently it contained 161 single room occupancy units.  The sort of humble abode you may have seen once in The Blues Brothers, where struggling people could find refuge.  Chicago used to have hundreds of these buildings when it was still a growing city. 

Now plans filed with the city detail the effort to turn the building into 72 studio apartments, and eight larger apartments — halving the number of homes it once had.  It also gets a trendy new name: Lawrence Lofts.

According to The Beachwood Reporter, the Lorali was depopulated back in the spring, forcing close to a hundred low-income people to find new homes in a city seriously lacking in low-income homes.  The redevelopment of this building is subject to the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, but it remains to be seen how that will be applied here.

The renovated building will also feature a gym, a roof deck, and a small amount of ground floor retail space.

There will be almost as many spaces for bicycle storage as there are units in the building, as well as a dog run, and seven parking spaces.  Even so, parking is probably not an issue, considering this building is just 1,320 feet from the CTA’s Lawrence Red Line station.

What is going to become Lawrence Lofts started out as the Viceroy Hotel just shy of 100 years ago. (There was also a Viceroy near Union Park, and currently one in the Gold Coast.)  It was designed by Huszagh and Hill, the same hands that designed several other prominent residential hotels in the neighborhood, as well as the Aragon Ballroom just down the street. Its striking terra cotta was done by American Terra Cotta Company, and luckily the redeveloper has plans to restore the enormous second floor windows to their original condition.

  • Address: 1039-1045 West Lawrence Avenue
  • Zoning: B3-3 → B3-5
  • Net site area: 15,025 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 3.512
  • Floors: eight
  • Height: 89 feet, 10 inches
  • Length: 150 feet
  • Width: 100 feet, two inches
  • Automobile parking: seven spaces
  • Bicycle parking: 70 spaces

Location: 1039 West Lawrence Avenue, Uptown

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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