For the past two years, the University of Chicago has been involved in a property dispute with Richard Fisher, a Hyde Park resident and alum of the University. The dispute concerns a wall shared by the parking lot of the Cloisters apartment complex and Fisher’s adjoining property. For years, the Cloisters building was owned by the Baptist Theological Union (BTU) but managed by University of Chicago Facilities Services.
Representatives from Facilities Services requested that Fisher pay for maintenance on the wall, claiming that renters and their cars were suffering damages from debris falling off the wall. Though the wall stood on the Cloisters property, the University originally requested that Fisher alone fund its maintenance.
This request led to thousands of dollars of payments, including nine months of attorney fees and costs stemming from multiple property surveys from various architectural firms, made by Fisher in an attempt 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, Assistant Vice 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 maintenance of the wall by himself, Fisher said that he has experienced “complete disregard” from the University.
“I didn’t pick up on a sense of working towards a common goal.… They just get a big fat zero. They made the demand and then did not respond to anything I said,” Fisher said.
As it stands now, 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 purchase it, but to Mac Properties. The attorneys that Fisher hired to mediate the issue with Facilities Services contacted Mac Properties about the maintenance issue, and a repair has now been arranged.
Fisher was not the only one left in the dark concerning this dispute. He told The Maroon that after speaking with a trustee of the BTU, the owners of the Cloisters building at the time, he learned that Facilities Services hadn’t notified BTU about the ongoing dispute.
“The University had not told [BTU] about anything. They hadn’t told them that they insisted that we repair the wall or that we asked to discuss it,” Fisher said.
Fisher expressed his frustration with the lack of responsibility taken by the University concerning this issue considering his previous actions. “We’ve lived here for 31 years. If a tree falls on the parking lot in a storm and it happens to be our tree, we clean it up. I was frankly astonished that there was no response to my response.”
The University of Chicago Office of Communications has not responded to The Maroon’s request to comment on this issue.