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Wildwood Elementary Annex OK'd by Plan Commission

By Heather Cherone | May 16, 2014 5:38pm | Updated on May 19, 2014 8:32am
  Construction on the three-story $15 million annex is scheduled to start in August.
Annex Plan Ok'd
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EDGEBROOK — A $15 million, three-story annex for Wildwood Elementary School that has been challenged by parks advocates got the green light recently from the Chicago Plan Commission.

The annex, which parents and school officials say is long overdue to relieve severe overcrowding at the highly ranked school, will be built on what is now Wildwood Park's basketball court and water play area.

The plan commission unanimously approved the project Thursday with no discussion, said Peter Strazzabosco, a spokesman for the department of zoning and land use planning.

Heather Cherone joins DNAinfo Radio to discuss the plan:

Friends of the Parks President Cassandra Francis has said the Wildwood annex is the latest example of a "troubling trend" of park space being usurped for other needs and could set a bad precedent.

School officials have praised the design for the annex, which will include a new lunchroom/multipurpose room, 12 classrooms, a computer lab, library, art room and administrative offices.

Although the main building was meant to hold 240 students, 424 students are enrolled at Wildwood. That gives the school a utilization rate of 177 percent, one of the highest in the city, according to CPS data.

Even with a four-classroom addition that opened next to the building, the school has an adjusted utilization rate of 128 percent, which is still considered overcrowded, according to data provided by CPS.

Construction of the annex, which will double the size of the school, at 6950 N. Hiawatha Ave., is expected to begin in August, and be completed in time for the first day of school in September 2015, officials said.

The Chicago City Council zoning committee is scheduled to consider the project May 22, officials said.