By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post
To some, the Rainbow Motel is a fun and kitschy remnant of
|The colorful, kitschy Rainbow sign by day.|
To others, it’s a no-tell motel that—despite its remodeling and attempts to attract respectable couples looking for a romantic getaway—can occasionally be a haven for sex workers and johns, as well as drug
|...and by night. Most of its colorful lights long ago burned out.|
In the latter group is the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch crime fighting group, as well as new 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, who this week announced that she has asked City Hall to bring legal action against the motel at Archer and Nottingham, with an eye on shutting it down.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of problems with that place,” Tabares said before about 125 people at Monday’s public meeting of the GRNW, coincidentally held at the headquarters of the Croatian Radio Club, next door to the Rainbow Motel.
“In the past year, there have been 42 calls to the police about prostitution, about public intoxication, drugs” at the motel,” Tabares said, as a number of people nodded their heads in assent. “Last week, I had a visit from a resident of the 23rd Ward who found a syringe [near the motel property]. He brought it to our office. That is unacceptable.”
Leading the charge to bring a public nuisance case against the Rainbow, at least initially, was the leadership of the neighboring 13th Ward. A flyer from the office of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn urged people to sign a petition asking the Emanuel Administration to bring a case forward. Those who want to sign the petition or have any questions were encouraged to call (773) 581-1313 or stop by the office at 6014 S. Central. The original flyer has since been updated to put Tabares and the 23rd Ward office, 6247 S. Archer, (773) 582-4444, in the forefront.
The Rainbow Motel has been around since 1954. Its tall sign was reportedly erected in the early 1960s so that motorists on the new Southwest Expressway (which opened in 1964 and was later renamed the Stevenson) could see it.
The Rainbow expanded in the 1970s when it absorbed what had been a fast-food restaurant, according to a WBEZ-FM report last year that quoted manager Sagar Patel.
Over the years, its imaginative and occasionally outlandish “theme rooms” have included a pink palace, a space-walk room, Valentine’s suite, a Las Vegas room, a “night in Paris” room and more.
Is the motel what its detractors claim? A call to the Rainbow earlier this week for a response was answered by a person who said, “There’s no one here.” When asked when the manager or owner would be available for a brief conversation, the person said, “I don’t know. In about a week, maybe.”
Reaction in the neighborhood late Monday night was mostly in agreement with Tabares.
“Just the thought of that place grosses me out,” said Garfield Ridge resident Sandy Bauer. “I like where I live; but to think we have that in our midst…maybe it fit in years and years ago, but I don’t see it being compatible today. I’d shed no tears if it were gone.”
Rafi Villanueva said that “every motel will have some calls for police service, even the nice ones. I think they should check the motels at 65th and Cicero. I’ll bet they get a police call a week, too.”
“I think we need to look at what effect [the Rainbow Motel] is having on the business strip,” said Diana Peresutti. “It’s right across the street from Weber’s [Bakery]—a place so popular that some of its customers drive in from other states to buy its cakes. Do we really want a place like the Rainbow right across the street from Weber’s? I wouldn't want Weber's to leave. Maybe there’s something better that could go there.”
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