The Hotel Cadillac is shutting down. What will happen to its tenants?
by: David Andreatta
For year-round residents of the Hotel Cadillac, the first shoe dropped somewhere along the way. It fell to homelessness, unemployment, drugs, or whatever form of desperation prodded them to settle in Rochester’s most resilient and infamous boardinghouse.
“You fall back on the easiest place,” Martin Doty, 56, who’s lived in the hotel on and off for eight years, explained between drags on a cigarette. “For a lot of people here, this was the easiest place.”
The other shoe dropped Wednesday, when residents learned from management they have 30 days to get out.
After 91 years of accommodating guests at the corner of Chestnut and Elm streets, from trendsetters and tourists in its early years to the tenants living on the margins of society today, the hotel is scheduled to close on May 25.
Where they’ll live is now a question on the minds of many of the more than 20 people who call the Cadillac home.
“There are people been here 20 years and more, don’t know what to do,” said Ronnie Klebes, 77, who’s lived in the hotel for eight years.
A spokeswoman for DHD Ventures, the development company that bought the Cadillac last year, said the building will remain a hotel. Whether it will retain its name and cater to the same clientele, she couldn’t say.
But Cadillac residents knew the answer. Over the last couple years, they’ve watched DHD Ventures transform a decrepit brick office building behind the hotel into glass-paneled luxury apartments that rent for up to $3,300 a month.
“No way in hell is it going to be for low-income,” Doty said. “They want to attract rich people downtown.”
‘This place is hell!’
We spoke outside the Cadillac after I had checked into a room and felt I’d been robbed. My room, number 705, cost $58.90 — $49 a night, plus $9.90 tax.
For that price, I got two beds with bedbugs, a broken television and a microwave encrusted with brownish-yellow crud and leftover bacon. The windows were painted white.
When I turned on the light, a mouse tumbled out of the busted air-conditioning unit and scurried under a bed. His turds were in every corner of the linoleum-tiled room.
In the bathroom, the window wouldn’t close and the faucets leaked. Scrawled into the plaster was the word “HELP.”
I was followed to my room by a woman named Caroline Johnson, who goes by “Rosie.” She wanted to party. She lit up a cigar in the elevator and said, “There’s a liquor store down the street.”