The public bidding process for closed Chicago Public Schools buildings will start this spring.
A committee appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has released a report advising the district on what to do with its dozens of shuttered buildings. There are 43 empty school buildings because of last year’s sweeping round of closures. The report didn’t come up with a plan for each school. Instead it set parameters for the district to repurpose the buildings.
The committee says possible building uses include churches, urban farms, housing and community centers.
“One of the key pieces here is community involvement in an active role. Many proposals will be encouraged to really get the community behind their proposal before actually making the proposal,” said committee chair Wilbur Milhouse, who owns an engineering and construction company.
Many of the buildings are in troubled neighborhoods that have high foreclosure rates and vacant land. Milhouse said some schools will be easier to sell than others but all the sales will go into one fund. The money would help facilitate finding purchasers for those properties.
Some schools will be immediately repurposed. The Chicago High School for the Arts will move to Lafayette Elementary on West Augusta. William King Elementary on South Campbell will host the city’s Department of Fleet and Facility Management. On the South Side, John Fiske Elementary is being temporarily used by the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community for health programs.
The members of the advisory committee:
- Wilbur Milhouse (Chair), Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc.
- Jim Capraro
- Ald. Rey Colon, 35th Ward
- Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th Ward
- Ricardo Estrada, Metropolitan Family Services
- Linda Goodman, Goodman Williams Group
- Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, Quad Community Development Corporation
- Avis LaVelle, A. LaVelle Consulting Services, LLC
- Andrew Mooney, Department of Planning and Development
- Raul Raymundo, The Resurrection Project
- Julia Stasch, John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation
- Ald. Latasha R. Thomas, 17th Ward
- Tom Tyrrell, Chicago Public Schools
- Susana Vasquez, Local Initiatives Support Corporation