A Chicago real estate investment company is pumping more than $250,000 into long time vacant apartments on South Bend's northwest side.
The apartments were abandoned and vacant for at least a decade and recently ended up on the city's demolition list.
Neighbors say they have been a nuisance and an eyesore. But now, the owner is hoping to give them new life.
The clock is ticking for Steve Mihaljevic and his company, Mag Mile Properties LLC.
Mag Mile owns the old Marx Apartments which sit near the corner of Portage and Leland Avenues on South Bend's northwest side.
They have been vacant and abandoned for at least a decade and have been sited for code violations. Mag Mile bought them in 2012.
According to the city, at an April code hearing city, a $2,000 civil penalty was imposed and the owner was given until September 12, 2014 to bring the building into compliance.
The city has now given the property owners an ultimatum.
"Failure to make timely repairs and comply with the order will result in an automatic reversion of the property back to affirmed demolition status and a $6,000 civil penalty," the city said in an email to WSBT.
"Everything is actually going to be above code when it is all said and done," says Mihaljevic as he gave WSBT a tour of the properties.
Work began on the property this spring and Mihaljevic says his company has already invested about $100,000 into the 100 year old structures. That has included new roofs, significant structural improvements, new plumbing and electric, and new heating and cooling.
When they are finished, Mihaljevic says they will be up to date, with in unit washer and dryers, stainless steel appliances, hard wood floors, and include an outdoor hot tub.
"We want to show the city and show the area that with a little effort and some risk and some hard work you can go ahead and become an anchor property and turn the neighborhood around," says Mihaljevic.
Mihaljevic promises the building will be up to code by their September deadline, but that it won't be available for rent until November. He says they will be market rate apartments available for graduate students and business professionals.
But some neighbors, including 1st District Common Councilman, Tim Scott, are skeptical.
"He definitely has to show me and show the neighbors as well," says Scott, "The one thing we want whether it is a rental or a home we want enduring quality properties throughout the city. It doesn't matter what street they are on."
Scott says he has seen a lot of landlords with good intentions either run out of a money or do a bad job and then fail to hold renters to a high standard.
"I'm hoping that once we are done with this, he is going to see that we are just another member of the team," says Mihaljevic.
Mihaljevic says they have successfully renovated other properties in the city including a property on Franklin Street in South Bend.
The Marx Apartments have already been listed: http://postlets.com/r/728-portage-ave-south-bend-in-46616/12090189
Mag Mile Properties Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mag-Mile-Financial-LLC-Mag-Mile-Properties-LLC/121743057835903?fref=ts
Photos of their renovation on the Marx and Franklin Street Apartments: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mag-Mile-Financial-LLC-Mag-Mile-Properties-LLC/121743057835903?sk=photos_stream