Chicago developer renovates SROs and seeks housing for displaced residents

Jay Michael is a 31-year-old real-estate developer, and his company, Cedar Street, is pioneering a new frontier of housing in Uptown and Edgewater. Michael, along with business partners Alex Samoylovich and Tom Kim, is buying buildings no other developer wants—abandoned properties in severe disrepair; foreclosed SROs with low-income tenants—and converting these dilapidated spaces into luxury rentals, all of which will operate under a new branch of Cedar dubbed FLATS. “Big style, smart space” is FLATS’ motto—smart being a more marketable code word for small. SROs, or single room occupancies, are typically prewar structures with tiny studio units. The average unit size, excluding a few multibedroom outliers: 350 square feet. That’s including a bathroom, kitchen and a place to sleep. Rents will range from the $700s to the low $1,000s per month. Though it’s not the developer’s legal obligation to help displaced people find new housing—the only requirement is a 30- or 60-day eviction notice—Michael’s team sees it as a social responsibility.

Time Out Chicago


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