Investor Cameel Halim trips up Evanston homeless shelter plan
Cameel Halim sues Emerald over disputed parking lot ownership
Moshe Wechsler refuses to return parcel, refutes premise of the suit
Mistakes happen, and North Shore real estate investor Cameel Halim hopes a judge will force one of Chicago’s largest landlords to soften up rather than making him suffer the consequences of an allegedly unintentional parking lot sale.
Halim, whose commercial real estate portfolio spans dozens of buildings across Chicagoland, filed a lawsuit last month against upstate New York-based Emerald Empire — the same firm that recently acquired about 7,500 apartment units in more than 400 buildings from Pangea Properties for more than $600 million.
Halim claims Emerald, led by Moshe Wechsler, refuses to return a parking lot that was accidentally included in the deed after a $28 million sale of four apartment buildings in Uptown and Rogers Park closed. The subject of the dispute is the lot at 5042 North Sheridan Road in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The lot is also next to the 71-unit complex at 5036 North Sheridan, which was also included in the deal.
Halim accused the firm of unjust enrichment in a complaint seeking at least $500,000 from Emerald and that the property be returned. The suit was initially filed in Cook County court, though a lawyer for Emerald on Thursday asked the case to be removed to an Illinois federal docket.
“It’s just a mess,” said Halim’s attorney Monica Forte, adding that she has had other lawyers reach out to her since the case was filed seeking advice on how to avoid similar mixups.
Forte said Halim noticed the problem when he stopped receiving rent from the parking lot’s tenants, most of whom also reside in the apartment building and had been sending their parking payments to Emerald after they were notified of the building’s ownership change.
Wechsler, meanwhile, said his firm has no plans to transfer the property back to Halim. Halim, however, asserts the properties intended to be sold in the transaction were spelled out in marketing materials and made no mention of the parking lot’s inclusion and thus were not part of the deal.
“Who reads marketing materials?” Wechsler said in an interview with The Real Deal. “It was in the contract, it was in the title. He’s an older guy and lives in his own world.”
Earlier this month, Halim filed a lawsuit against the city of Evanston, which was successful in delaying the city’s elected officials from meeting to discuss issuing a final approval for a homeless shelter to permanently operate in a former hotel outside of North Shore’s downtown.
Halim, who owns multiple properties adjacent to the shelter, has objected to the proposal, and his lawsuit forced the local government to restart its approval process to allow the shelter to continue serving people at the shuttered Margarita Inn on Oak Avenue. An advisory committee to the Evanston City Council is scheduled to discuss the matter again on March 8, when Halim can present his argument against the shelter’s location, according to his attorney.
Emerald Empire buys Pangea’s Chicago portfolio in $600M deal