Tenants of Logan Square building organize ‘call-in’ protest against landlords

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2019-04-22 18:31:38

Tenants of a Logan Square apartment building started a “call-in” protest Monday against landlords who they say are itching to kick them out as soon as possible.

The 90-year-old building in the 3100 block of Milwaukee Avenue now has 14 tenants; half have leases expiring in under six months; the rest rent month-to-month.

The building’s landlords are Herb Linn, a real estate lawyer at Pedersen & Houpt, and Mike Zucker, chief executive of Peak Properties, a real estate management company.

Linn and Zucker bought the building at Milwaukee and Avers avenues in February for $3.2 million. They plan to let all leases expire, evict the month-to-month tenants, rehab the property and start renting it out next spring.

The online protest asked people to call Linn and Zucker to demand they sit down with the building’s newly-formed tenants union to work out an exit plan that gives tenants some breathing room.

They want the landlords to “put things in writing — not corner us one-on-one,” said Patricia Scardina, 63-year-old infant toddler teacher at a nearby daycare and member of the union.

Scardina has lived in the building four years. Her lease is up in September.

“I’m fighting for the tenants that are left. I got time to move — but they don’t,” she said.

Zucker said he will allow tenants to stay until their leases expire and is open to working out deals with individual month-to-month tenants — but not with the union.

“I’m giving tenants two-to-three months to leave if they don’t have a lease. I’m honoring all leases,” said Zucker, adding that he had received 15 calls by late Monday afternoon. “We’re following the law 110 percent.”

“The union gives the impression is that their modus operandi is to help the neighborhood when their actual M.O. is self-serving,” he said.

Rents in Logan Square have skyrocketed in recent years. According to Hoodline, a data analysis website, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood hovers around $1,450, compared to $1,525 citywide.

Logan Square’s population also is changing. The Latino population in the neighborhood has fallen by more than 20,000 since 2000, while the white population has grown by more than 12,000, according to an analysis by WBEZ.

The building’s Milwaukee-Haussen Tenants Union was formed with the help of Lincoln Stannard, an organizer with Somos Logan Square, an anti-eviction activist group.

The union wants Linn and Zucker to end eviction proceedings and subsidize tenants’ moving costs. Stannard said tenants are worried Zucker won’t keep his promises without some written agreement.

“We’re calling for an actual negotiation process to take place that’s in good faith,” Stannard said.

Scardina, who’s lived in Logan Square more than 40 years, said Linn and Zucker have a moral responsibility to care for tenants they are displacing; most will have a hard time finding a new apartment in the neighborhood.

“You’re pushing people out of their home. There’s kids in the building. Give them a chance — we’re not rich like you are,” she said. “I want to stay in Logan Square but the rents are too high. I can’t pay $1,200 for a one-bedroom.”

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