As I See It . . . Fall/Winter 2000-01
By Mike Glasser, President, Rogers Park Builders Group
Many Builders Group members involved in the rental business talk about what it takes to attract “good tenants” into the neighborhood. We also remain mindful that we need to attract “good developers.” Regretfully, this past year we again learned about the consequences when a “bad” developer purchases a series of buildings.
Fortunately, the story I will share with you appears to have a good ending – about how the Rogers Park community is rallying together to deal with the horrible problems associated with the “bad” developer, and tried to rectify the problems he caused.
Over the past two years, Residential Realty obtained or market-ed twelve multifamily properties, which Residential in turn,deeded into separate condominium units and sold off to a variety of purchasers, each of whom paid inflated prices for the units, each purchase financed by out-of-state banks. None of the purchasers ever occupied the units. In fact, most, if not all,of the purchasers disappeared and the lenders were left with no one paying the mortgages. Consequently, nearly 150 condo units went into foreclosure and each of the twelve buildings fell into various states of disrepair, with no owner present to be accountable for the condition of the properties. Soon gang and drug activity infested many of the buildings. A community crisis was at hand.
As unprecedented as was this situation, equally unprecedented was the swiftness and apparent effectiveness of the community response. Various community leaders and organizations selflessly banded together and in conjunction with the Alderman’s office and other City agencies, including the City Law Department and the Police Department, are putting forth a zealous effort to redress the horrible problems apparently caused by Residential. The Rogers Park Community Council (RPCC) and the Alderman’s office are taking the lead in assembling a task force that meets regularly to deal with this problem, and months later, well ahead of anyone’s expectations, we are starting to see the results. Several of the buildings are now boarded and secure, with responsible developers positioning themselves to take a controlling interest and to stabilize them. The City and the Alderman’s task force are engaged in a difficult process to see that the remaining properties get into good hands, a process complicated by difficulties ascertaining who owns the individual units.
What impresses me most is that throughout this crisis, every-one has maintained a solutions oriented approach, always being sure to keep his or her ego in check. Community leaders have risen to the occasion, working together to meet the challenge at hand. The Builders Group offers kudos to the many people who have tirelessly and unselfishly worked toward resolving these problems. Of the many people participating in this process, I would like to single out Mary Jane Haggerty and Alderman Moore and his staff (particularly his Chief of Staff, Kevin Cos-grove) for committing a huge amount of time and energy toward resolving the problem.
I am proud the Rogers Park Builders Group has contributed to this process. Admittedly, we play a smaller “behind the scenes”role, bringing together various real estate professionals and legislators to offer community leaders their professional expertise and support. One of our board members, Angela Maurello of CIC, is actively involved, attempting to work out solutions for several of the more challenging properties.
I am confident that the community will draw on this same solutions oriented approach as we confront future challenges.