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Trumbull School Redevelopment Draws Seven Ideas, Including New Theater

By Adeshina Emmanuel | August 26, 2014 9:50am
  The proposals     submitted to Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) for reusing the closed North Side school include a new home for Lakeview's     TimeLine Theater  , a Fresh Farms grocery store, a mixed-income "live-work" development targeting entrepreneurs, and a school for autistic students
Trumbull School Proposals
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ANDERSONVILLE — Enamored with the possibilities for reusing Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in Andersonville, five developers and two schools have revealed their visions of the structure's rebirth.

The seven proposals submitted to Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) for reusing the closed North Side school include a new home for Lakeview's TimeLine Theatre Company, a Fresh Farms grocery store, a mixed-income "live-work" development targeting entrepreneurs, and a school for autistic students.

The proposals aren't final, and still must be reviewed by O'Connor and community members. Next, the alderman would let school officials know the types of projects the community would accept, so Chicago Public Schools could put out a request for plans reflecting the community's wishes, according to the 40th Ward website.

Developers "want to see what the community wants before we spend too much time spinning our wheels," said Cedar Street Co. and Flats Chicago partner Jay Michael. The real estate mogul predicts much competition for Trumbull, a hot item among the 50 schools CPS deemed underutilized and closed last year, sparking outrage among some in communities across Chicago.

Trumbull, considered a strong candidate for Chicago landmark status, was designed by Prairie School architect Dwight Perkins. Neighbors and preservationists have been lobbying for the building's preservation at 5200 N. Ashland Ave.

Chicago Development Partners would preserve the four-story building and build up to 47 residential units ranging from 980 to 2,500 square feet, according to plans posted on O'Connor's website. Renderings show a rooftop park and lounge area.

The centerpiece of the plan is rehabilitating the school auditorium into a permanent new home for the acclaimed TimeLine Theater, 615 W. Wellington Ave., which is squeezed for space.

Chicago Development estimates that the theater's yearly ticket sales would balloon from 25,000 to 35,000. The head of the development company, Howard Weiner, called the auditorium "just magnificent."

"It's certainly a unique opportunity to find a building built in 1908 that's in this good condition," Weiner said.

"We intend to take a great historic community aspect and make it better by providing a live theater home for one of Chicago's great theater companies that will help the businesses of Andersonville and give a permanent home for new residents to help Andersonville grow," Weiner said.

Svigos Development proposal for Trumbull is a mixed-use building with a first-floor grocery store, Fresh Farms International Market, and 45 condominium apartment units. The plan didn't detail financing. Svigos is currently redeveloping the former Mulligan Arts and Living School in Lincoln Park into apartments.

Gorman & Company proposed a mixed-use, mixed-income building, according to plans on O'Connor's website.

The proposal described it as a "live-work" development "designed to serve up-and-coming entrepreneurs and other members of Andersonville's creative class."

The development would feature "units that have commercial street entrances, activating the street and allowing small-business owners to combine their office, studio and residence in one place," according to the proposal. Amenities would include a media presentation theater, conference space, fitness center, business center and community room. There would also be retail space on the ground floor.

The building would target entrepreneurs, but also have a mix of affordable and market rate rents, not exceeding $1,350 per month. The $16 million project would include federal and city funds to help subsidize the development, according to the plan.

• Cedar Street Co.'s plan includes 17,000 to 22,250 square feet of ground-level commercial space, a few townhouses and a community plaza on the ground level. Including units on the upper floors, in all there would be 75 residential units. The plan, which would be privately financed, also includes a two-story parking structure with 114 spaces available to the community. The facade of the building facing Foster Avenue would be "wrapped in a community garden and planted wall."

Regency Centers proposed a "mixed-use revitalization project featuring a specialty grocer and urban living." Trumbull's upper floors would be transformed into a vintage living space incorporating the building's original elements with more contemporary updates for an "urban vibe."

"We will restore, refurbish, repurpose, reuse and reclaim as much of the original building as possible," Regency's proposal stated. 

An unnamed specialty grocer is in on the plan, and would use about 15,000 square feet, while an additional 9,000 to 11,000 square feet would be used for restaurants. The proposal didn't detail a finance plan.

Two schools want the Trumbull building.

Bancroft School, a private, nonprofit school in the northwest suburbs that serves kids with autism and other developmental disabilities, said acquiring Trumbull "would allow the Bancroft School to help fill the void for special-needs students that may have been displaced when Trumbull closed," according to plans on O'Connor's website.

The Hoffman Estates school, with about 50 students ages 3-14, wants to increase enrollment to 250 students and expand to ages 3-22. Its proposal did not indicate how it would pay for the building.

Chicago Jewish Day School proposed acquiring the school to alleviate space limitations at its current location, 5959 N. Sheridan Road in Edgewater, and would raise private donations for the project. The existing Trumbull structure would be used, but a new gymnasium would be built.

CPS is expected to issue Request for Proposals for Trumbull this summer and fall, according to the school district.

The buildings will go to the highest bidders conforming with the use agreements in the RFPs, officials said.

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