LOGAN SQUARE — Fellowship House of Chicago, an assisted living facility for people struggling with mental illness, has shut down after nearly 60 years in Logan Square, and neighbors are wondering about the site’s future.
The shelter, which provided housing and assistance to 37 people with long-term mental illnesses, closed a couple of months ago, ending a 56-year run at Logan Boulevard and California Avenue, the owners confirmed in a written statement. Residents were placed in new housing, the owners said.
Last week, the property hit the market at $1.29 million, which has some community leaders and neighbors anxious over redevelopment of the site.
The property at 2601 N. California Ave. has garnered strong interest from a number of developers, listing agent Yogi Yedlin said. Yedlin declined to provide further details, but he used the site’s location as a selling point in the listing.
“Location!!! Corner of Logan BLVD and California. Former assisted living facility (23 br 8ba) on oversized 42×165 RT-4 lot. Build new, use, or convert into a multi unit. Sold as is,” the listing reads.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who represents the area, recently reached out to the city’s Department of Planning and Development for “resources or ideas regarding the property and its future use,” said Paul Sajovec, Waguespack’s chief of staff.
Meanwhile, neighbors are pushing for their voices to be heard in the redevelopment process.
Longtime neighbor Pam Levin said she’s worried the shelter could be replaced with a large micro-apartment complex — the type of project that has come to define gentrification in Logan Square.
“We moved into the neighborhood 30 years ago because it was so family-centric, and that has shifted, so that’s my concern, that whatever gets put up there, that it supports the community, that it’s spacious enough for small families, and perhaps some retail,” Levin said.
Fellowship House was founded by Saul Squire, a Ukrainian immigrant whose parents ran a small nursing home in Chicago, and his wife, Susan, a Holocaust survivor, the family said in a statement. The two converted an eight-unit building into an assisted living facility for 36 people with chronic mental illness.
Saul and Susan Squire “dedicated their entire lives caring for the residents. They made sure that they had a clean bed to sleep in, a warm meal to eat and a place to celebrate the holidays,” their family said.
After decades of running Fellowship, Saul Squire died in 2015. One of his sons took over, but he was forced to step down six years later when he became ill, the family said.
The current owners, who are members of the Squire family, said they “made the difficult decision” to shut down Fellowship a few months ago for financial reasons.
“The business was not economically sustainable to sell or bring on a new manager,” they said.
The Illinois Department of Human Services provides money to facilities like Fellowship through a shelter care rate. But the Logan Square facility didn’t see an increase in its rate for 15 years; meanwhile, costs rose significantly, said the facility’s property manager, who declined to be named but said he’s a member of the Squire family.
“If [the state] would’ve raised the rate even $100, we would still be in business,” the property manager said.
Levin and other neighbors were concerned when Fellowship shut down and its residents, many of whom would regularly hang out in front of the building, disappeared. But the property manager said they helped each resident find housing.
With the sale, the Squire family hope to usher in a new chapter for the site. The current building is “old and in need of an upgrade or redevelopment,” they said.
In a statement, the family thanked the Logan Square community “for being so understanding and supportive of the many people that lived here over the years.” They also thanked their “dedicated” staff and residents’ families, who “entrusted them with the care of their loved ones.”
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