M. Fishman & Co., which owns numerous multi-unit buildings in Logan Square, issued notices in December to tenants at 2536 N. Sawyer Ave. that leases would not be renewed without a minimum $200 monthly rent increase. Other residents claim they are being asked to live in less than desirable living conditions.
Tenants Faced with Steep Rent Increase
A studio apartment in the Sawyer Avenue complex, according to Zillow, now will run prospective renters at least $895 per month. Although this price may seem attractive to residents new to the neighborhood, it is out of the price range for many long-time residents who have built ties to Logan Square.
“My son’s in school at Darwin and my lease ends in March. I’m expecting to get one of the 30-day notifications,” says one resident who has lived in the building for three years. “It’s unfortunate because there’s no place to go because rent in Logan Square is so high, it’s unfair. It’s like we’re not good enough for Logan Square.”
Allegations of Construction Without Permits
Residents at 2536 N. Sawyer Ave. have reported construction and remodeling without permits. While crews remodel empty units, current tenants say they are exposed to the fumes and noise that accompany the construction. In December, one tenant was taken away by an ambulance when she was overcome by fumes from the un-permitted construction.
Residents of the building say police have been called on construction crews twice, and tenants have organized with Metropolitan Tenants Organization (@TenantsRights) to address their concerns.
When a City of Chicago building inspector inspected the building on Dec. 24, he said he saw no evidence of construction and claimed he was unfamiliar with Fishman despite working in his district, according to the tenants’ Facebook page. Residents have filed with the city’s Inspector General.
Tenants also alleged construction crews hanging out and partying in the building’s empty units.
Construction Not Benefiting Current Residents
Despite tenants reporting that Fishman continues to carry on remodeling empty units without the proper legal documents, M. Fishman is not offering to rehab units of current residents, according to tenants.
Like other tenants, Marmi, a three-year resident at 2536 N. Sawyer Ave, has reported severe issues with her unit to M. Fishman & Co., but has not seen problems resolved. The building’s elevator has been out of service for months, according to tenants, and many have issues with plumbing and pipes, she says.
“I have only hot water in my bathtub. I don’t even have fixtures in my tub, I have to use a wrench to turn off my bathtub,” Marmi says of her unit. “This is false advertising. There’s no working elevator, and no intercom. It’s unacceptable for them to not fix the elevator. I am disabled and hindered by it. They think it’s their option to keep paying fines and ignore problems. I don’t know who to go to to get fixed. I feel violated.”
Some tenants say this construction will attract new residents while the company fails to meet the everyday needs of current tenants.
“He’s remodeling apartments and he has no permits for them. When he remodeled the Logan Theatre, he found the time and his wallet to pay for permits and it was an empty theater,” says a tenant. “Now, doing the remodeling here, he gets no permits. He doesn’t take time to do something legit and the building has elderly, disabled people and kids living here. The empty theater got more respect than a tenant-filled building.”
Actions Being Taken Based on Resident Concerns
Rey Colón, 35th Ward Alderman and a contributor to the original beginnings of I AM Logan Square, the arts organization Mark Fishman helped launch, says he heard from multiple 2536 N. Sawyer Ave. tenants at one of his ward nights. He said he tried coordinating a meeting between the tenants and M. Fishman & Co. Tenants and organizers allege the alderman has not done as much.
M. Fishman & Co. refuses to meet with 2536 N. Sawyer’s organized tenant association, and will only meet with tenants on an individual, case-by-case basis. This, according to tenants and organizers, would put already-vulnerable tenants in an even weaker and less transparent position to fight for their homes.
The tenants association serves as a way for residents to organize together and present a stronger fight to keep their homes.
“We’re pretty solid now. That’s all we can do is try to make the best of it, make a better outcome while we try to weather the storm. At worst we’ll have to move,” says Marmi.
Tenants are partnering with the Logan Square Ecumenical Association tonight at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 2649 N. Francisco Ave., at 5:30 p.m. for a discussion on affordable housing and its effects on the community and city. Further information can be found on the Fight Mass Eviction in Logan Square Facebook page.
Mark Fishman’s Ties to Logan Square
Mark Fishman, owner of M. Fishman & Co., owns 48 properties including the Logan Theatre (@TheLoganTheatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.), is the founder of I AM Logan Square (@IAMLoganSquare, 2644 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and invested in Parson’s Chicken & Fish (@ParsonsCHI, 2952 W. Armitage Ave.).
Despite being a heavy investor in the Logan Square community, Fishman lives in Deerfield, Illinois. Fishman was unavailable to be reached at press time.