Saturday, February 8, 2014

WBEZ: Committee releases CPS school repurposing plan

What to do when schools are closed and they just sit vacant? It appears now is the time to figure that out:
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.
A south side neighborhood - Englewood - is certainly interested in this topic. An neighborhood organization - R.A.G.E. - has even written a "white-paper" on the subject. If you have a vacant school building in your neighborhood, what would you re-purpose that building for?

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