Success Stories

Video Success Stories of CIC-financed Projects

Click on each screen to view these brief (about 90 seconds each) videos from CIC customers describing their own experience in dealing with CIC:

JOHN BRAUC, Checkmate Realty and Development

RAFAEL LEON, Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation

RAFAEL LEON, Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation (EN ESPAÑOL)

More Success Stories

The three borrowers below were winners of the 2011 Chicago Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award.

Greg Sorg purchased a challenging 12-unit building located at 5837 West Washington Boulevard with CIC financing through his loan officer, Dave Price. Vacant for three years and a hangout for drug traffickers and gangs, it now features some of the most affordable high-quality three- and four-bedroom units in Austin. Fully occupied since renovation, the building is now a community anchor. Upgrades include enhanced major building systems, roofing, exterior doors and windows, and wrought iron added throughout. The building was tuckpointed and stairways and porches rebuilt. Its units now feature new hardwood floors, walls, lighting, and kitchen and bath fixtures.



John Brauc received his third Award in as many years with his purchase and renovation of 1131-41 East 79th Place, a 36-unit building which had been without gas for three months at the time he acquired it, and its units were mostly vacant. Upon learning the building’s boiler and hot water systems needed replacement, Brauc and his team completed additional upgrades including a new roof and gutters, new porches, revitalized kitchens and bathrooms, new drywall and new plumbing and electrical systems. They also improved the common hallways and added emergency lighting for resident safety. James Lackland was the loan officer for CIC.


Mark Fenzel of Copper Realty LLC was another repeat Award winner this year with an 18-unit building at 6153 South ML King Drive, which had been foreclosed. Fenzel combined a CIC loan (Ted Brzyski was his loan officer) with cash to purchase the partly-occupied building. He improved security and unit conditions for existing tenants, and then completed a rehab for about $40,000 per unit. Occupancy has created a more stable environment for the building, which was in the vanguard of development for this area, where now eight nearby buildings are being similarly renovated.

Case Study

Go here for a video of this developer and project. In 2008, CIC asked Chicago developer Van Vincent of VLV Development if he would take over the ownership and management of three dilapidated buildings on the 6800 block of South Normal in Chicago’s Englewood community. CII had been appointed receiver for the buildings by the City of Chicago after the original owner had stopped making mortgage payments. The buildings were nearly half vacant, and foreclosure was imminent. Located across from a local high school, the buildings also had a serious gang problem.

Before Vincent took over the buildings, residents Dorothy Neal and her husband Alvin protected the buildings and tried to keep them functioning. They put out at least five fires, they picked up the trash, made sure the door at the back was secure at night, and challenged the drug dealers to respect the community. “There were decent people in the building. We wanted to show that if we were unified and cared about the place we lived in, we could make it better,” Alvin said.

A line of credit from CIC allowed Vincent, who grew up in Englewood and nearby Roseland, to acquire the buildings even though credit markets had tightened considerably and very few other real estate deals were being done. Additional help came from the Cook County Tax Assessor’s Class 9 Program, which reduced the buildings’ tax assessment.

Within one year, Vincent had cleared out the gangs, rehabbed all the vacant units, cleared away the graffiti, fixed the elevators, improved the buildings’ public spaces and brightened each building’s hallways — a different color on every floor. The rehab cost $17,000 per unit — a modest price for the considerable changes.

For Vincent, rehabbing rental buildings is more than a business. “We believe in transformational housing’ — buildings with the ability to transform the communities in which they are located,” Vincent said. That commitment is paying off. Most of the units in the building — the majority of which are unsubsidized — are now rented, and the unity the Neals were working for is now a reality.

“Our tenants smile at us, talk to us, and tell us what’s going on in the building. That didn’t used to happen,” said Carl Rogers, chief development officer, VLV Development. Van Vincent photo credit John Booz