|The Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood in 1984.|
The mobster Allen Dorfman, an insurance agency owner, and a consultant to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Central States Pension Fund who was a close associate of longtime IBT President Jimmy Hoffa and associated with organized crime via the Chicago Outfit was gunned down in the Hyatt House Hotel parking lot in 1983.
|Mug-Shot by Chicago FBI office of Allen Dorfman.|
June 12, 1981
The back story: In 1979, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched "Operation Pendorf" (for penetration of Allen Dorfman). The FBI installed hidden microphones in the office of Dorfman's insurance agency. As a result of information obtained from the wiretaps, a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Dorfman and four others in May 1981. Dorfman was subsequently convicted in December 1982, along with Teamsters' president Roy Lee Williams and Chicago Outfit enforcer Joseph Lombardo, of conspiring to bribe Howard Cannon, the Democratic Senator from Nevada.
Three days before his sentencing, scheduled for January 23, 1983, Allen Dorfman was murdered in the parking lot of the Hyatt House Hotel in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Described as a gangland-style execution, the murder was presumably intended to keep him from cooperating with authorities and to avoid a possible 55-year prison sentence for Williams and Lombardo. He was with longtime friend Irwin Weiner, a known associate of many Chicago mob figures. Weiner was not injured in the incident.The murder has never been solved.
The hotel changed hands numerous times after the infamous crime, first becoming a Radisson, and then a Ramada. But vaguely criminal associations have nonetheless persisted, especially after prominent reports of "wild", "drug-fueled" parties taking place in 2004 in connection with allegations of political fixing.
|Entrance Sign on Touhy Avenue, Lincolnwood, Illinois.|
|Hotel Main and Lower Level Floor Plan.|
|Close-up of Purple Bricks.|
In May 2007, Chicago-based Sertus Capital Partners entered into a conditional contract to purchase the 8-acre hotel property, with plans to demolish the famed hotel and build residential and retail space. However, Sertus called off its proposed purchase of the Touhy Avenue property from the current owner Donald Bae in August 2007. The plans were scrapped due to the high cost that owners asked for the property and problems with an extended lease of one of the tenants on the property.
In 2010, the Village again brought court action to either remedy more than three dozen building code violations, or demolish the building.
In February 2011, the Village was granted authority to condemn and demolish the Purple Hotel at the owner's expense. In late 2011, Weiss Properties and North Capital Group bought the hotel's mortgage note with intentions to restore the hotel with additional amenities.
North Capital Group purchased the hotel site out of bankruptcy court in the summer of 2012.
|A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of the Purple Hotel site at|
Touhy and Lincoln Avenues. (2012)
After several meetings, North Capital came to the conclusion that the location of the hotel building on the site made development of the rest of the site a challenge and therefore withdrew its application.
The Purple Hotel was raized in July of 2013
"At Lincolnwood Fest 2013 there's is great interest expressed in the bricks and we want to give back to Lincolnwood residents as the hotel did in so many ways," said Neal Stein, Project Lead and Principal with North Capital Group. "The Purple Hotel represents joyous memories for untold numbers of families who celebrated weddings, fundraisers, and other happy occasions. It is only appropriate that we honor the hotel's rich history after five decades serving Lincolnwood and the North Shore."
Lincolnwood residents and others who are interested in a sentimental journey can take ownership of an actual brick from the legendary Purple Hotel. Bricks will be offered free of charge, but North Capital Group suggests a $5 donation with proceeds benefiting the Lincolnwood Public Library.
"It's a great honor to commemorate the Purple Hotel's history with the brick donation during our annual festival," said Barbara Faermark, Lincolnwood Fest organizer. "In its heyday, the hotel was among the top Chicago-area entertainment destinations and family events. We expect a lot of interest in the bricks."
|Lincolnwood Fest 2013|
|A Purple Brick in my Personal Collection, with the commemorative fabric bag.|
A developer that planned a $135-million mixed-use project on the Purple Hotel site in Lincolnwood has lost the long-vacant property in foreclosure, opening the door for another developer to step in.
Romspen Investment, a Toronto-based lender, seized the 8.5-acre tract at Lincoln and Touhy avenues through an October 12, 2017 sheriff's sale, according to Cook County property records. Romspen plans to sell the property as soon as possible and has received several offers already from prominent developers, said Lincolnwood Village Manager Timothy Wiberg.
A sale would open a new chapter in a saga that began when the Purple Hotel closed more than a decade ago. On a busy intersection just east of the Edens Expressway, the property has strong development potential but has been mired in litigation over the years, which stymied efforts to develop it.
"There's no higher priority for the village than to see that site developed," he said. "It's an embarrassment, and the town is too nice to have that prominent corner sitting there for as long as it has been."
North Capital Group, a Skokie-based developer that bought the property in a 2012 bankruptcy auction, unveiled an ambitious plan more than four years ago for a project that would have included a 210-room hotel, 110 residential units and 114,000 square feet of retail.
|A rendering of what the redeveloped Purple Hotel site could look like,|
along Touhy Avenue looking north.
"Romspen has made it clear to us that they don't intend to hang onto the property any longer than they have to," Wiberg said. "They don't want to own it, and they want to sell it to a developer as quickly as possible." Wiberg said he didn't know which developers are bidding on the Purple Hotel site. But he's not worried about the property sitting on the market. "Over the last five years, I've probably met with 50 developers," he said. "There's no lack of interest."
Earlier in 2017, the Lakota Group, a Chicago consulting firm, drafted a conceptual plan for the parcel, a framework to guide developers and village officials as they consider what to build there. The plan calls for multiple buildings on the site and included a 160 room "SpringHill Suites" by Marriott, as many as 172 residential units and 70,500 square feet of retail space.
The Chicago Tribune reports on January 19, 2018, that the Purple Hotel property is up for sale... again!
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.