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(Above) The Museum of Broadcast Communications from across State Street on November 5, 2011.

2-Nov-23 – With miscommunication between him and the mayor’s office patched, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly says he has “strenuous objections” to locating a migrant shelter at the former Museum of Broadcast Communications at State & Kinzie in River North.

The four-story, 62,000 square foot building, owned by a real estate development company, Fern Hill, has been mostly empty since the museum closed to the public on April 30. The building still houses STK Steakhouse, accessible from Kinzie Street.

Transwestern has been actively marketing three floors of the building for Fern Hill as office space.

According to Reilly, Mayor Brandon Johnson is considering the building as a location for a migrant shelter. Reilly says his office spoke with representatives of Fern Hill, who confirmed that representatives of Johnson’s office “recently toured the space and expressed interest in potentially using the site for migrant housing.”

Reilly says he “remains concerned about existing public safety issues in the neighborhood, the lack of amenities and social services for the migrant community, and the dismally poor performance of the migrant hotel located at the Inn of Chicago in Streeterville.”

On Monday, when a faulty address convinced Reilly the city was considering Hotel Chicago – located next door to the former museum building at Marina City – as a shelter for migrants, the alderman said that would do “irreparable harm to the River North community.”

“The portion of State Street proximate to the Hotel Chicago has remained on the Chicago Police Department’s ‘Drug & Gang Hotspot List’ for years,” wrote Reilly in an email to constituents on Monday. “The hotel is steps from an already problematic CTA Red Line stop, just blocks away from the temporary Bally’s Casino, and is surrounded by residential buildings, hotels, and other tourism destinations.”

The Inn of Chicago

Reilly called Streeterville’s Inn of Chicago (left), converted to a facility for 1,500 migrants earlier this year, “an abject failure” with “abhorrent conditions and criminal activity observed there on a daily basis.”

Criminal activity at the 359-room hotel at East Ohio & North St. Clair Streets, according to Reilly, includes “open-air narcotics sales, apparent sex trafficking, the sale and consumption of alcohol on the sidewalks, the presence of illegal firearms, retail thefts at nearby businesses, aggressive panhandling, and the accumulation of trash and human excrement in the alleys at, and around, the Inn.”

He says calls to 911 regarding The Inn of Chicago have “skyrocketed.”

Reilly, along with 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, has urged Mayor Johnson to terminate the migrant housing contract when it expires on December 31.

“Chicago desperately needs financial help and logistical assistance from the federal government to manage this growing crisis,” said Reilly (right) on October 6. “But the Johnson Administration needs to demonstrate some leadership and finally develop a realistic plan to responsibly manage the flow of migrants to Chicago and house them in locations where they have access to public parks, accessible healthcare, and affordable goods and amenities.”

Brendan Reilly

Reilly says a lawsuit has been filed that challenges Johnson’s authority to select properties to serve as migrant facilities. Johnson, said Reilly, “is abusing the authority of his office, is entering into illegal contracts without appropriate legislative approvals by the Chicago City Council, and is willfully violating the law by doing so.”