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Jay Michael, Prolific Uptown Developer, Dies After Cancer Battle

By Bettina Chang | January 9, 2016 2:03pm | Updated on January 11, 2016 8:50am
 Jay Michael, managing partner of Cedar Street Companies and FLATS Chicago, died Friday.
Jay Michael, managing partner of Cedar Street Companies and FLATS Chicago, died Friday.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

CHICAGO — Jay Michael, prolific Uptown developer whose buildings have sprung up across the North Side, with more in the works for the Near West Side, has died.

Michael, of Cedar Street Companies and FLATS Chicago, had been battling cancer for about a year and passed away Friday, according to his friends.

Ryan Beshel, publicist and TV personality, wrote on Facebook, "There will never be a mind quite like his—he was a man that knew what he wanted and NO was only a motivator. ... Rest now, my friend."

The Edgewater Chamber of Commerce shared their condolences Saturday on Facebook, posting, "[Jay] was a forward-thinking entrepreneur and developer who made his mark on the north side, but it felt like it was only the beginning of many great things to come. Edgewater will miss you, Jay."

FLATS Chicago and Cedar Street have redeveloped countless properties, some of them distressed, and transformed them into trendy housing. The process has not gone unopposed, as affordable housing advocates have protested against his developments and once, even at Michael's own house.

Michael wrote about his battle with cancer for "Splash" magazine in mid 2015, detailing how he was diagnosed with "stage 4 non-Hodgkin diffuse large B cell lymphoma, an aggressive and late-stage cancer of the lymph nodes and the blood" at age 34.

He wrote, "As I started to think about it, I realized that fear was behind everything I had ever accomplished in life. I was afraid of being too fat, too poor, too average, un-datable, unsuccessful, uneducated, uncool. … [But when I was diagnosed with cancer] It was the first time in my entire life I can honestly say I had no fear. For once, Jay Michael was truly fearless. I had just been delivered the most awful news of my life and, instead of being afraid of dying, I became inspired to live."

Last year, FLATS announced projects to support local artists and entrepreneurs. New developments are in the works in University Village and on the Near West Side.

Michael, who was known for his tireless work ethic, also was one of six cast members on "100 Days of Summer," a Bravo network reality show that aired in 2014. At the time, he told DNAinfo Chicago: "Part of my story arc is that I am single, and there's reasons for it. What are those reasons?: I think that's what we're trying to explore during the series."

He described himself as a “lifestyle architect and real estate developer in search of the world’s best ways to live."

A statement from Cedar Street Companies is forthcoming, a spokeswoman for the company said Saturday.

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