LOGAN SQUARE — After months of uncertainty, preceded by months of upheaval, the Milshire Hotel has been sold.
The hotel was sold to a Limited Liability Corporation belonging to Logan Square’s M. Fishman and Co. for $2.4 million on Nov. 11 — the day before a Single Room Occupancy Ordinance was passed in the City Council — according to documents filed with the city.
The purchase had been expected since May, a month after residents in the beleaguered hotel at 2525 N. Milwaukee Ave. were evicted from about 70 units by the building's former owner, Art Fischoff.
The tenants later organized the Milshire Tenants Union to advocate for those being evicted throughout the process. In July, the union filed a legal complaint against the hotel’s owner over a string of allegations, from faulty building equipment to rat and bedbug infestation.
What will happen to the hotel remains uncertain. Mark Fishman, one of Logan Square’s largest property owners, didn't respond to multiple requests for comment since his group's 2525 Milwaukee LLC was listed with the Illinois Secretary of State.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said the developer hasn't returned his calls.
"I am very concerned about how the sale of the Milshire Hotel to Mark Fishman will impact the community," said Pastor Bruce Ray, an advocate and organizer of actions meant to raise awareness of the hotel's changeover. "I am also disappointed and frustrated that the sale occurred the day before the City Council overwhelmingly approved the Chicago For All ordinance, the new city law to encourage preservation of SRO hotels like the Milshire."
"It would be my hope that Mr. Fishman would act in the spirit of the new ordinance and preserve the Milshire as affordable supportive housing or sell it to an affordable housing developer," he added.
The future of the hotel remains uncertain, but while Fishman owns dozens of residential properties in the neighborhood, the Milshire purchase appears more likely on the scale of the Logan Theater.
Since Fishman bought and renovated the theater in 2010 — partly through the use of $1 million in Tax Increment Financing — it has become one of Logan Square's most prominent public entertainment venues — its classic neon sign highlighted in many an Instagram photo. But the landlord's residential management strategy is under near constant criticism from community activists and artists who say M. Fishman & Co. gentrifies the neighborhood and displaces longtime residents whose incomes haven't risen along with increases in rent.
The landlord tussled with Logan Square resident and artist Amie Sell in June over a Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival exhibit that criticized the landlord in one of his own festival-donated properties. The artwork was pulled after a representative of Fishman asked that it be taken down, reportedly against the will of the festival's sponsoring organization, I AM Logan Square.
Fishman stepped down from the board of I AM Logan Square in October, citing a planned retirement, but continues to own and operate at least 23 residential and commercial properties in Logan Square, according to his company's website, in addition to several properties in Humboldt Park, Bucktown, Wicker Park and North Center.
Fishman wasn't the only developer interested in the Milshire, but he won in the end, according to Ald. Rey Colon (35th) — who said he also hasn't been in contact with Fishman in months. Colon said he expects any renovation of the Milshire from Fishman's company to be based on "his usual model of residential units and buildings, which is in high demand right now."
According to former residents of the hotel, many of the Milshire’s former tenants have spread throughout the city, some ending up in one of the city’s few remaining SRO hotels, the nearby Fullerton Hotel, 3919 W. Fullerton Ave.
Many tenants who moved completely out of the hotel by October received settlements of $4,000 each from Fischoff with the help of the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing.
But former resident Fernando Gomez says he didn’t receive a settlement and lost his belongings when the hotel was closed and boarded up. Gomez, 46, says he’s lost everything, including a place to live.
“I was out there on the street for a couple days to a week, and now I’m jumping house to house,” he said Monday. “I lost contact with my kids over this whole situation. I ended up in the hospital. I lost my job. How can I work if I’m in the streets?”
Gomez said he also lost several of his belongings in the closure, including keepsakes, shoes and his birth certificate. He also lost clothing in the hotel's earlier bedbug infestation.
Gomez paid $200 per week for the room, from February 2013 until the hotel closed, he said.
“I tried to stay on the street, but it's too cold. It’s rough. All that comes from the Milshire,” Gomez said. “I don’t know where to go or what to do. They knew they were closing, but it was OK for them to take my money?”
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