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33673Fwd: Logan Landlord M. Fishman's Efforts to Expand Anger Some Neighbors

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  • Michael Stanek
    Jan 23, 2014
      From: DNAinfo Logan Square & Humboldt Park Newsletter <DNAinfo_Logan_Square__Humboldt_P@...>
      Date: Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM
      Subject: Logan Landlord M. Fishman's Efforts to Expand Anger Some Neighbors 

      Logan Square Landlord M. Fishman's Efforts to Expand Worry Some Neighbors

      By Victoria Johnson on January 8, 2014 9:35am 

       M. Fishman & Co. offices at 3215 W. Fullerton Ave. 
M. Fishman & Co. offices at 3215 W. Fullerton Ave. View Full Caption
      DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

      LOGAN SQUARE — Depending on whom you ask, Mark Fishman is either one of Logan Square's greatest benefactors or the face of unwanted gentrification.

      Either way, the real estate mogul and owner of M. Fishman & Co. has come to own and manage a lot of Logan Square, and is aiming to own more.

      Agents are now sending letters to property owners asking if they'd like to sell their homes, a move that some see as troubling, as Fishman & Co. often raises rents after acquiring buildings.

      The M. Fishman & Co. website lists 19 properties, mostly large apartment buildings, in Logan Square, as well as three in nearby Humboldt Park, plus a handful of others in Bucktown, Wicker Park, Uptown, Edgewater and South Shore.

      Logan Square has been Fishman's primary focus in recent years. M. Fishman & Co. has recently acquired a number of other properties in the neighborhood that it's still renovating to turn around and rent to neighborhood newcomers — specifically those who can afford significantly higher rents.

      Repeated requests for comments from M. Fishman & Co. went unanswered this week and last. Ald. Rey Colon (35th), who worked with Fishman on a $1.5 million renovation of the Logan Theatre, a move lauded by many, said he supports Fishman.

      But some in the neighborhood say M. Fishman is getting a reputation for hiking rents, with some online commenters calling the recent solicitation letters "unsavory."

      "There are already so many families becoming displaced," said Nicole Dalesandro, who owns a three-flat in the 2500 block of North Spaulding Avenue and was solicited by Fishman.

      Dalesandro's building is tantalizingly close to the Logan Square Blue Line Station and thus desirable to new renters and M. Fishman alike.

      "If I could, I would buy more buildings and keep rents low," Dalesandro, a longtime Logan Square resident said in an email. "One of my tenants has been living in the building for 24 years. If Fishman bought it, I'm sure they'd hike the rent by hundreds. I'm worried for some of our neighbors."

      Another property owner, Kate Kindleberger, of the 2400 block of North Mozart Street, said she also received a letter expressing interest in the house she bought about a year ago — a two-flat converted into a single-family home, where she lives with her husband and two young children.

      "I don't know if they want to buy it, if they want to rent it, if they want to flip it," she said, adding that she, too, is concerned about rising rents in the neighborhood.

      "I just had a friend who had to move out of the neighborhood ... people are getting priced out," she said.

      Residents of 2536 N. Sawyer Ave., a 50-unit building recently acquired by M. Fishman & Co., have launched a Facebook page protesting what they call an unfair mass eviction.

      Though it appears M. Fishman Co. has lawfully given residents proper notice that they must leave or pay more — 30 days for month-to-month renters, or 30 days before leases are up — occupants say the tactics are heartless.

      Terry Enright, a 56-year-old tenant who helps run the Facebook page, said he's seen this play out before with other developers.

      "I lived in Wicker Park 25-plus years ago where they [developers] were doing the same thing, and well, you see what happened," he said.

      Though M. Fishman has promised to work with building tenants individually, Enright said that simply means letting them stay if they can shell out $250 more a month in rent, which none of the remaining residents — about half have already left — can afford.

      Enright, who has lived in the building for two years, pays $575 a month for his studio apartment. According to the M. Fishman website, the cheapest an M. Fishman studio in the area will rent for is $825 — at a Humboldt Park building at 1742 N. Humboldt Blvd.

      Studios in buildings closer to the one that Enright lives in are listed for $875 and $895 (at 3335 W. Diversey Ave. and 2700 N. Spaulding Ave., respectively).

      Colon said rising rent is just an unfortunate fact of life in a popular and developing neighborhood such as Logan Square.

      "There's kind of a lot going around of people being like, 'I'm being squeezed out of the neighborhood because it's getting so popular,'" he said. "My philosophy is wherever Hispanics go, it gets gentrified. People want their children to grow up in a diverse neighborhood, so it's just kind of an ongoing trend."

      As for the Sawyer building, Colon said he did hear complaints from tenants, but figured the issue had been resolved.

      "[The residents] were questioning the humanity of being forced to leave in the winter, but the Fishman folks said they were willing to work with them individually," he said.

      "It's been my experience that [Fishman does] a reputable job. I would not have worked with them to redo the theater if that weren't the case. My experience is they've been good property managers."

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