The tributes continue to pour in for Cedar St co-founder Jay Michael, who died last Friday after a year-long battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 34. Cedar St co-founder Alex Samoylovich, who was friends with Jay dating back to their childhood days in Skokie, says Jay was a visionary who only saw possibility and was steadfast in bringing his ideas to life.

Jay led by example, Alex says, and relied mainly on his intuition when approaching his projects. A major example of this is Cedar St’s Flats Chicago line of apartments in Uptown and Edgewater. Jay, a self-described “lifestyle architect,” had a knack for design and implemented it in rehabbing rundown buildings and SROs into hip, vibrant micro-apartments.Jay was committed to preserving the character and function of the buildings Cedar St repositioned and walked the walk when it came to micro-living. He kept an apartment in a Flats building at 5411 N Winthrop in Edgewater, and allowed Curbed to tour the space in 2014. Flats Chicago expanded beyond Uptown into River North, where Cedar St is redeveloping the landmark Bush Temple of Music into a Flats building. Alex says Jay wasn’t only developing real estate, he was creating spaces that fostered community and served as platforms for creative spirits to live. Jay approached his cancer battle with the same determination, humor and zeal that he did real estate, and wrote about his fight for the Sun-Times’ Splash magazine in a series of articles titled “My Choice to Live.” At age 21, Jay’s father died, an event which spurred him to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Jay eventually lost 150 pounds. Alex says Jay’s example taught him and everyone Jay touched to become better co-workers, friends and people, and that the past year was where Jay embraced living the hardest, which was the truest testament to his character and perhaps his greatest lesson to everyone.

Bisnow Chicago | Chuck Sudo