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Newly Released Walter Payton College Prep Annex Plans Include Gym, Theater

By Paul Biasco | July 16, 2014 5:24am
 The Chicago Public Building Comission released renderrings of the annex for Walter Payton College Prep that will add up to 400 seats at the school.
Walter Payton Annex
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NEAR NORTH SIDE — The new addition to Walter Payton College Prep will include 11 classrooms, a new gym and fitness room and a "black box" theater.

The $17 million, three-story annex for the school at 1034 N Wells St. is expected to open sometime during the first few months of 2016.

The project also includes renovations to the current school building involving converting a theater into a classroom and special education rooms into a biology science lab among other renovations.

While the annex is expected to be completed by the start of the second semester of the 2015-2016 school year, the entire project — including renovations to the current building — won't be ready until the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

 A map showing the location of the annex at Walter Payton College Prep.
A map showing the location of the annex at Walter Payton College Prep.
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Public Building Commission of Chicago

"We are very sensitive to the comings and goings of the students," said Molly Sullivan, deputy director of media and public information for the Public Building Commission. "We take all precautions and work very closely with the principal to minimize impact on students."

Payton College Prep is one of the city's top selective-enrollment high schools and currently has a capacity of 895 students.

The addition, which will be paid for through Tax Increment Financing funds, is expected to raise the enrollment capacity by 300 to 400 students.

The 49,000-square-foot annex will include 11 classrooms for English, math and science and additional specialty classrooms for art, music practice and special education, according to public building commission documents.

The addition also includes plans for a gymnasium on the third floor with a full-length basketball court and weight room.

A multipurpose "black box" theater in the current school building will be converted to classroom space, but a similar theater with a partition is included in plans for the new building.

The plans are expected to go before the city's plan commission Thursday and before a zoning committee hearing July 24.

The addition, announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September, is one of many recent projects aiming to expand selective-enrollment seats across the city.

About 16,440 students applied for roughly 3,200 seats in the district this past year, according to Chicago Public Schools.

The city announced plans to build the 1,200 seat Barack Obama College Prep, a new selective enrollment school, in the Near North neighborhood in April.

In August, the city opened the new expanded $115 million Jones College Prep in the South Loop, which increased the school's capacity from 900 to 1,700 students.

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