'Purple' razed? Lincolnwood landmark hotel might kiss the sky--or face foreclosure

May 5, 2011

The days appear numbered for Lincolnwood's aptly-named Purple Hotel.

Village attorneys won the right to demolish the shuttered hotel at 4500 W. Touhy if its owner doesn't fix an array of building code violations by August. And now Crain's Chicago Business this week reports the hotel owner's lender, First Midwest Bank, has filed a $4.2 million foreclosure suit against the building.

It would be a sad end for a hotel that isn't a bad piece of architecture--if you can get around the color. The Purple Hotel began life in the Swinging Sixties as the Lincolnwood Hyatt. Back then, the hotel attracted top-shelf performers such as Perry Como, Roberta Flack and Barry Manilow as guests.

But performers of a different sort gave the hotel its real notoriety - like the Chicago Outfit guys who shot to death Teamsters consultant Allen Dorfman in the Purple's parking lot in 1983. Or political donor Stuart P. Levine who testified in 2008 to having drug and sex parties at the hotel. Levine's testimony was part of the corruption trial for now-imprisoned businessman Tony Rezko.

Chicago architects Hausner & Macsai designed the Purple Hotel. If you look beyond that purple and the decay, it's actually a fine-looking structure on the exterior. So I figured I better grab some photos of the building while I could.

These girders hold the weight of the building, passing its heft down to the ground on the outside. I'm wagering this means there are fewer structural columns within the building, allowing for a more open floor plan:

An entrance on the west side of the building. I like the glass, brick and symmetry:

A tree struggles in what was once nice outdoor space:

Lincolnwood has created a $35 million tax increment finance district that includes the hotel. The Skokie Patch earlier this year reported the hotel's owner, Donald Bae sought $25.8 million of that pot to redevelop the property.

                                                                                       ****

Postscript: Flickr user Martin Gonzalez got inside the Purple Hotel in 2009 and took some great photos of the unused structure. Even through the photographs I could feel the mold in the place making me itch. But the images are fun.