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Stewart Won't Become a Charter, Cappleman Says, But Building's Future Murky

By Adeshina Emmanuel | March 28, 2013 10:34am
 Graeme Stewart Elementary School, 4525 N. Kenmore Ave.
Graeme Stewart Elementary School, 4525 N. Kenmore Ave.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — Chicago Public Schools has promised Ald. James Cappleman (46th) that the Graeme Stewart Elementary School building wouldn’t be taken over by a charter school if Stewart is closed as planned, according to a newsletter the alderman sent to constituents Wednesday.

Cappleman has "shared his strong opposition to closing CPS schools only to be replaced by charter schools," the newsletter said. "In response, CPS has stated that Stewart would not be replaced with a charter school."

CPS, however, "is still deciding what the future plans will be for this building," the newsletter said.

Stewart, 4525 N. Kenmore Ave., sits in the Wilson Yard tax increment finance district, not far from the Wilson Red Line station at North Broadway and West Wilson Avenue that will get a $200 million makeover this year thanks to a mix of private and public funds, including TIF dollars.

"We don't really have any thoughts on the building. We're just finding out that the school is closing. We have been talking to CPS ... they have a couple potential ideas but nothing that is even solid enough to talk about," Cappleman chief of staff Tressa Feher said of the soon-to-be-vacant space.

Cappleman's "biggest concern" with the building, according to Feher, is that "it's just going to sit there empty for a long time."

"I don't think anybody wants a big vacant building right in the middle of the commercial corridor there," Feher said.

Andersonville business leaders and community members feel the same way about the possible closure of Lyman Trumbull School. They worry that closing Lyman would hurt local businesses and add another hulking, empty structure on a corridor that already includes the decrepit Edgewater Hospital building.

"Representing the interests of our commercial district, the schools add vitality and foot traffic to our Foster/Ashland corridor while increasing interest in our community," Colleen O'Toole of the Andersonville Development Council wrote in a letter to CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "Parents and teachers have long supported our locally-owned, independent businesses."