CITY HALL — The proposed addition to Payton College Prep cleared the city Plan Commission Thursday, with one commissioner calling it "a stunning design."
The commission unanimously approved the Payton annex, after details of the project were released earlier in the week. It will add 300-400 seats to one of the most competitive of Chicago Public Schools' selective-enrollment high schools. Its current student population is 903.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said it would "give more young people an opportunity to be able to attend this school throughout the city and also within this community."
"It's a stunning design," said Commissioner George Migala, who was particularly struck by the four-story addition's offset top floors.
"It's a good way of breaking up the facade," said Arthur Del Muro, an architect for the Public Building Commission, explaining that the angle of the offset floors "complements the existing facility."
The $17 million addition will be built on what is now a parking lot located along Hill Street at the school, 1034 N. Wells St.
The school is named after Chicago Bears great Walter Payton, and his distinctive number 34 that ornaments the school will be shifted to the west facade of the new annex.
The project was originally announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year. It will use $17 million in Tax Increment Finance district funds, and construction is projected to be completed in 2016.
Yet concerned citizen George Blakemore spoke out against it during the public-comment session, pointing to how CPS statistics have found the school getting "whiter," and adding, "The rich are getting richer at the expense of the taxpayers."
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