Dozens Of Empty Chicago School Buildings Hit The Market

State Board of Education
The State Board of Education seal. File Photo
State Board of Education
The State Board of Education seal. File Photo

Dozens Of Empty Chicago School Buildings Hit The Market

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Chicago is putting up for sale about 40 properties, most of them empty school buildings shuttered in the historic 2013 school closings, officials announced Thursday

Chicago Public Schools so far has sold only nine of the 50-some buildings closed in 2013 and found other purposes for five. 

Until now, officials had been waiting for aldermen to work with their communities to suggest uses for the buildings. That yielded restrictions in eight communities on how buildings should be used. In 2013, the School Repurposing Advisory Committee suggested this process. 

District officials are now switching gears and trying to sell them, with or without community input. The only restriction for the buildings without community-driven restrictions is that they can’t be used as charter schools. 

Former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised that the schools closed in 2013 wouldn’t become charter schools. That pledge still roils charter school advocates. 

The school district said in a statement that putting these properties on the market would hopefully “accelerate the reuse and revitalization of former school sites and help spur new value from properties throughout the city.”

So far, the district made about $24 million selling nine of the 50-some schools shuttered in 2013. More than $15 million came from just three North Side schools. Three of the buildings sold for less than $400,000. 

As many predicted when Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the schools, finding buyers has not been easy. Most are in poor neighborhoods with a lot of vacant buildings and land. 

Eight of the schools put out to bid Thursday — ones where the community weighed in on how they wanted them used — have already been on the market but no one offered to buy them. The communities mostly want the buildings used for training programs, youth programs, social services or light manufacturing that would result in jobs.

The slow pace of building sales has frustrated residents. Shuttered schools often sit in the middle of residential neighborhoods and are targets of vandalism and magnets for other unsavory activity.

In addition to the buildings from the 2013 school closings, the district is putting 10 miscellaneous properties up for sale, such as an old administrative building in Englewood.

The following properties are for sale: 

Schools closed in 2013:

● Armstrong - 5345 W. Congress (Main) and 5400 W. Harrison (Annex)
● Attucks/Farren - 5055 S. State*
● Bontemps - 1241 W. 58th St.
● Buckingham - 9207 S. Phillips
● Burnham (Main) - 1903 E. 96th St.
● Burnham (Branch) - 9800 S. Torrence
● Calhoun - 2833 W. Adams*
● Courtenay - 1726 W. Berteau
● Dett - 2306 W. Maypole*
● Earle - 6121 S. Hermitage
● Emmett - 5500 W. Madison
● Fiske - 6145 S. Ingleside Ave.
● Goldblatt - 4257 and 4258 W. Adams
● Henson - 1326 S. Avers
● Key (Annex) - 535 N. Parkside
● Key (Main) - 517 N. Parkside
● King - 740 S. Campbell
● Mays - 838 W. Marquette Road
● Melody - 412 S. Keeler Ave
● Morgan - 8407 S. Kerfoot Ave.
● Paderewski - 2221 S. Lawndale*
● Parkman - 245 W. 51st St. (Main) and 5125 Princeton (Annex)*
● Pershing East - 3113 S. Rhodes
● Ross - 6059 S. Wabash
● Songhai - 11725 S. Perry*
● Ward - 410 N. Monticello*
● Wentworth - 6950 S. Sangamon
● West Pullman - 11941 S. Parnell*
● Woods - 6206 S. Racine
● Yale - 7025 S. Princeton

* These properties have usage restrictions requested by the community.

Other CPS properties

●     112 W. Garfield
●     76th and S. Kedzie Ave.
●     1418 S. Kedzie Ave.
●    6717-23 S. Wood St.
●     627 N. Harding Ave.
●    2901 E. 101 St.
●     9318 S. Champlain
●     Goldsmith - 10211 S. Crandon Ave.
●     Montefiore -1310 S. Ashland Ave.
●     Hayes Admin Building - 6529-6533 S. Stewart & 6530 S. Harvard

Sarah Karp is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @sskedreporter or @wbezeducation.