For the past two years, the University of Chicago has been embroiled in a real estate dispute with Richard Fisher, a Hyde Park resident and University alumnus. The dispute involves a wall shared by the parking lot of the Cloisters apartment complex and the adjoining Fisher property. For years, the Cloisters building was owned by the Baptist Theological Union (BTU) but operated by the University of Chicago Facilities Services.
Facility Services representatives asked Fisher to pay for wall maintenance, saying tenants and their cars were being damaged by debris falling from the wall. Although the wall was on the Cloisters property, the University initially asked Fisher alone to fund its upkeep.
This request resulted in thousands of dollars in payments, including nine months of attorneys’ fees and costs arising from multiple real estate surveys from various architectural firms, carried out by Fisher in an effort to prove to the University that any solution should be a collaboration between the two parties. .
Recently, Fisher sent an email titled “University Stonewalls for Two Years Neighbor’s Pleas for Discussion of Adjoining Property Issue” to explain the situation to 12 university administrators, including Vice President and General Counsel Kim Taylor, Vice -assistant president of facilities operations John D’Angelo, and executive vice president Katie Callow-Wright. Fisher’s email received no response from any of the 12 administrators.
Since the initial communication from the University telling him that he had to pay for the upkeep of the wall himself, Fisher said he had experienced “complete disregard” from the University.
“I didn’t feel like I was working towards a common goal… They just get a big zero. They made the request and then didn’t respond to anything I said,” Fisher said.
As it stands, the dispute has a resolution. The Cloisters was sold over the summer not to the University, which was interested in the building and recently made an unsuccessful bid to buy it, but to Mac Properties. The attorneys Fisher hired to fix the issue with Facilities Services have contacted Mac Properties about the maintenance issue, and a repair has now been arranged.
Fisher wasn’t the only one left in the dark about the dispute. He said Brown that after speaking with an administrator of BTU, the owners of the Cloisters building at the time, he learned that Facilities Services had not informed BTU of the ongoing dispute.
“The University had not said [BTU] about everything. They didn’t tell them they insisted we fix the wall or asked to discuss it,” Fisher said.
Fisher expressed frustration with the lack of accountability taken by the University regarding this matter given its previous actions. “We have lived here for 31 years. If a tree falls in the parking lot during a storm and it’s our tree, we clean it up. I was frankly surprised that there was no response to my answer.
The University of Chicago communications office did not respond to Brownrequest to comment on this question.