One of the largest owners of the North Shore multifamily housing market is suing local officials over a move to make the homeless shelter operate permanently in a former boutique hotel, claiming the location was only a short-term solution.
Cameel Halim owns about 4,000 apartments and two properties next to the Evanston Margarita Inn, where Connections for the Homeless operates. He alleges that the city failed to comply with the state Supreme Court’s special-use request standard for approving the site’s rezoning. , Evanston now report.
Halim also sued the city earlier this year when Evanston convened a meeting to decide whether to allow the site to continue as a homeless shelter, though Halim asked for a postponement of the hearing. He claims he was disenfranchised as an owner because local law requires the Evanston Land Use Board to grant requests to postpone hearings from real estate owners within 500 feet of the property. Halim ultimately won the lawsuit, negating the final step in the approval process.
Harlem, who filed his latest lawsuit last month in Cook County court, said he is still in the process despite recently receiving a permit from the city to convert a vacant downtown assisted living facility into a 67-room extended-stay hotel. Escalated the fight with the city government. He bought the property in 2017 for $25 million, according to local news reports, but plans to redevelop the property were stymied before city officials approved plans for an extended-stay hotel in May.
However, his recent lawsuit against a nearby homeless shelter alleges that Evanston failed to consider the existing uses and zoning of nearby properties. He claimed that by approving the zoning change, both the value of his property and its suitability for permitted uses were diminished.
He also claimed that two Security Council members had a conflict of interest in the matter and should abstain from voting. If they did, the special-use regulations would lack the five votes needed for approval.
In 2020, under an emergency agreement with the city, Liaison for the Homeless was granted access to the Margarita Hotel, initially as a temporary solution in response to the outbreak. This former boutique hotel can accommodate around 70 guests.
A hearing on the latest lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 12.
— Quinn Donoghue