March 28, 2014
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today launched a website that will allow members of the community to submit and review proposals for the repurposing of former school sites. The website, found at cps.edu/repurposingourbuildings, is an important first step in the implementation of the plan outlined by the Advisory Committee for School Repurposing and Community Development in its February 2014 report on property reuse recommendations.
"The website is an important piece of our community engagement process and will structure how we receive proposals to ensure the process is inclusive and transparent," CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. "Each neighborhood has their own vision for these buildings, and we look forward to hearing their proposals of how we can find a new use that boosts economic activity and cultural vibrancy for the community."
The School Repurposing and Community Development website hosts a comprehensive list of former school sites in need of repurposing. The website maps out all available properties and includes photographs as well as physical and financial information about each site. After the community preference for reuse has been established, interested parties will be able to submit formal redevelopment proposals through the website. A summary of submitted proposals will be posted on the site for public review.
CPS will be working with aldermen to facilitate the determination of community reuse preferences and to communicate the process for making proposals. The aldermanic community meetings will provide an additional forum for Chicago residents to contribute to repurposing efforts with the goal that each property is redeveloped in an appropriate manner for its surrounding community.
The School Repurposing and Community Development website is part of a multi-phase strategy recommended by the Advisory Committee to repurpose the sites of former schools in a transparent manner that best serves local communities. The three-phase effort is broken into the following categories:
- Immediate Reuse: This initial phase has allowed for the immediate transfer of properties within CPS or to sister agencies who have demonstrated need and financial viability to take ownership of the facilities in 2014. This phase is underway and has resulted in the repurposing of William H. King Elementary School as a facility for the City of Chicago's Department of Fleet and Facility Management, and the M. Jean Lafayette Elementary School as a future location for the Chicago High School for the Arts.
- Competitive Redeployment: The School Repurposing and Community Development website is a key component of this phase, during which the majority of schools have a solicitation process where community groups and other interested parties submit proposals for reuse. A community engagement strategy, involving the School Repurposing and Community Development website, aldermanic community meetings and site tours has begun so that residents are well-informed about available properties and are offered the ability to review and provide input.
- Development through a Revitalization Partner: If community or financial benefit is not immediately apparent, an external partner with expertise in real estate planning and community development would assume responsibility of the building to create a plan for stronger options.
As part of the effort, CPS will appoint an advisory review and evaluation committee to support the repurposing process and provide analysis of qualifying proposals. The committee will be composed of six individuals who have relevant and diverse expertise in real estate, development, social services, finance and lending.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.