If you’re driving through South Holland, a middle-class south suburb, and you get sleepy residents said there are plenty of local motels willing to rent you a room for a few hours even though it is against a village ordinance.
Residents have labeled four motels, Cloverleaf, 638 E. 162nd St; Holland Inn & Suites, 1122 E. 62nd St; Star Lite, 466 W. 162nd St; and the Deluxe, 557 W. 162nd St; as “short-term” motels because hourly rooms are available. The motels are located west along 162nd Street, an area where retailers Jewel, Chase Bank and Walgreens also have stores.
And some South Holland residents said prostitutes and cheating spouses are the ones using these motels.
“It’s a revolving door at those places day in and day out. And on the weekend you can barely get in the parking lot,” said Jean Madison, 64. “I have lived in South Holland my whole life so I know how things used and those ‘dirt bag’ motels have changed things dramatically.”
Lisa Morse is a manger at the Star Lite and agreed with Madison.
“Some of these places (motels) are bad for South Holland,” said Morse. “The village needs to crack down on motels that allow illegal activity like prostitution.”
According to Morse, the Star Lite only rent rooms overnight.
“Sometimes a person will check out in a few hours even though they rented the room for the night,” Morse said. “But when I see a lot of traffic coming from a customer’s room I ask them to leave or prohibit them from returning.”
A village ordinance prohibits motels from renting a room to anyone for less than 24 hours or more than seven consecutive days, said South Holland Police Chief Greg Baker.
According to Baker, over the past year his department received 70 calls for incidents at or near the Star Lite; 63 calls for the South Holland Inn & Suites; 28 calls for the Cloverleaf; and 12 for the Deluxe.
“Some of those calls were for robbery. But once we investigated the matter it turned out that [sexual] services were rendered but the customer demanded their money back or never paid at all,” Baker said.
Despite the village ordinance prohibiting hourly room rentals, some customers said that’s exactly what is going on.
“They [Star Lite, Deluxe, Holland Inn, and Cloverleaf] all rent rooms by the hour. I got a room not too long ago at the Cloverleaf and paid $32 for four hours,” said Harold Griffin, who lives in Chicago but works in South Holland. “I go to the Cloverleaf all the time and the ‘real’ rates [for rooms by the hour] are not advertised.”
Cloverleaf management told the Examiner it does not rent rooms by the hour and its overnight rates are $45 per day on weekdays and $55 on the weekends.
However, hourly rooms at the Deluxe are sometimes allowed if rooms are available, said Fatel Garby, manager.
“If we have a spare room and someone wants a room for a few hours to lay down because they are tired we will try to accommodate them. But that is not the norm,” he said. “Our overnight rates are $45 and that includes cable TV and a king size bed.”
The Examiner recently visited all four motels and witnessed men driving into the motels with a female companion and requested a room for less than 24 hours.
At the Holland Inn & Suites a cab driver walked inside the office to rent a room, but quickly left with his female companion when the Examiner attempted to interview him.
But Holland Inn Manager Gloria Jordan insisted it does not rent hourly rooms and valid identification is required to rent a room.
For the last eight years, according to Bievian Moore, executive director of the South Holland Business Association, the Cloverleaf and Holland Inn have been members of the association.
But to become a member Moore said all that is needed by a business is to complete an application; pay an annual fee between $150-$350 (depending on the size of the business), and be approved by its 12-member board.
“We have not heard any complaints about these businesses or their owners,” added Moore. “If there are problems with how these two motels operate the board can discuss it at our next meeting.”