CHICAGO – Chicago’s newest migrant shelter has opened up in the West Loop, and it’s creating tension between a landlord and tenants.
The bottom floor tenant at a warehouse-style building at 344 N. Ogden is a retail business. The owner tells FOX 32 that the migrants just moved in starting Friday.
Thomas De Boer, president of the recently-opened Chicago Card Club, said the fact that part of the building he just signed a lease for is now being used to house migrants will kill his business, and cost him in the neighborhood of $100,000.
“It’s devastating,” said De Boer. “You plan for so long to start a new business, you get excited, you pour loads of your own personal funds into it, just to have the landlord come and destroy it.”
De Boer and his partners just opened the Chicago Card Club two months ago, investing more than $100,000 in converting the bottom floor of the building into a card-playing lounge and retail space for merchandise and digital trading cards.
“When we first got the space, it was completely barren. None of these walls were here, none of these countertops, none of the tile. The flooring was all gone,” he said.
But shortly after they finished remodeling, De Boer says the landlord dropped a bomb: that, like it or not, parts of the rest of the building would soon be used for a migrant shelter.
“We just heard about the planned migrant shelter about a month ago, so this all happened incredibly quickly. They started construction maybe two and a half weeks ago and the migrants moved in today,” he said. “We already had a successful business that had only been open for a short period of time, but now none of our customers feel comfortable coming back anymore. It’s unsafe. As you saw on day one already, there’s dozens of people hanging around outside. Our customers don’t want to go through that.”
De Boer said he is planning on suing the building landlord to recoup the cost of what he and his partners invested in improving the space.
FOX 32 did reach out to the landlord for a response but have yet to hear back.