LOGAN SQUARE — The Milshire Hotel’s neon sign is no longer for sale after the building’s owner bowed to community pressure and reversed his plans, agreeing instead to work with neighbors on a plan to keep the historical sign in Logan Square.
Well-known property investor Mark Fishman listed the 15-foot-tall sign on Live Auctioneers at the end of May with a starting bid of $5,000, rattling community leaders who feared the sign would be “shipped out” of Logan Square when the Milshire Hotel is redeveloped.
The sign is believed to be at least 80 years old, and is a Milwaukee Avenue staple. Local leaders with the neighborhood group Logan Square Preservation launched an online fundraiser May 29 to buy the sign and preserve it.
But not long after Block Club highlighted the fundraiser, Fishman’s real estate company, M. Fishman Co., changed course and took the listing down, according to Logan Square Preservation’s president Andrew Schneider.
Now, Fishman’s company is pledging to work with Logan Square Preservation to make sure the sign stays in the neighborhood.
M. Fishman Co. officials didn’t return messages seeking comment.
“They saw our campaign, and indicated to us that Mr. Fishman was concerned that the sign would end up sold to somebody and removed from the neighborhood,” Schneider said. “He felt that was not a desirable outcome and that, no matter what, the sign should remain in the neighborhood. I think that’s the correct impulse, and that’s something we appreciate and applaud.”
After languishing for nearly a decade, the Milshire Hotel at 2525 N. Milwaukee Ave. could soon be redeveloped.
Fishman wants to convert the former single-room occupancy building into apartments, according to Ald. Scott Waguespack’s 32nd Ward office.
Paul Sajovec, Waguespack’s chief of staff, said the proposal is “in the concept stages” and currently under review. Sajovec didn’t answer questions about the number of apartments or whether the project would trigger a zoning change and community evaluation.
Schneider said Fishman intends to restore the Milshire Hotel’s historical features, including its facade, as part of the redevelopment project. The Milshire was originally built in the 1920s as a small hotel serving Logan Square’s then-booming entertainment district.
Schneider couldn’t provide further details about the development proposal, saying his group is still waiting to review Fishman’s plans.
He said his group’s priorities for redevelopment include preserving the facade and neon sign, and converting the ground floor into retail spaces in line with Milwaukee Avenue’s pedestrian street designation.
“The fact that they want to retain its existing historic features — that’s very positive. We also applaud that. But as ever, the devil is always in the details,” Schneider said.
It’s unclear if M. Fishman officials plan to incorporate the sign in the apartment project, or if they plan to sell it to someone in the neighborhood.
Other historical neon signs for longtime local businesses also have gone up for auction in recent weeks. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan bought Orange Garden’s “Chop Suey” sign for $17,000. He plans to hang it in his Highland Park cafe. The Dinkel’s Bakery sign sold last week, according to its auction listing.
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