UPTOWN — The former Graeme Stewart School building in Uptown is heading for a major makeover into luxury residential units after a redevelopment plan cleared a City Council committee Tuesday without opposition.
“This is a building that needed to be brought back to life,” said Ald. James Cappleman (46th) at the meeting, adding that the community agrees.
Stewart was one of 50 schools closed by CPS in 2013. It would have taken $15 million just for CPS to bring it up to code in 2013, he said.
The development calls for 64 residential units and potentially retail space, though that phase of the plan has yet to be approved. It will have five floors and a green roof. The first floor will accommodate access for people with disabilities, said Cappleman, adding that the Affordable Requirements Ordinance “does not kick in for this particular development."
Prices haven't been set for the rental units, but Cappleman said he expected rates to be in step in the area.
“This is an area that is screaming for more market-rate housing," he said.
According to Morningside Stewart Chief Executive Officer Mary Ellen Martin, units will range from 500-square-foot studios to 1,800-square-foot three-bedrooms, with the average being an 1,186-square-foot two-bedroom.
In October 2015, Cappleman announced that Morningside had the top bid out of the four bidders for the former school at 4525 N. Kenmore Ave.
“We are thrilled to convert this space into a new community hub that will expand access to quality housing and commercial space in our community with the sale of this building," Cappleman said at the time. "We look forward to a redevelopment project that will preserve the history of the building, while expanding green space for use by the neighborhood."
The $5.1 million sale was approved by the Chicago Board of Education at its October meeting. Following community input, "the site will be redeveloped to incorporate residential housing, retail and restaurant space, a community plaza and playground," according to a CPS release at the time.
In January, the building was officially sold to Morningside and the playground equipment was removed from the lot near the intersection of Kenmore Avenue and Broadway and donated to Kids Around The World.
The development will be completed in three phases, with the first phase focusing on rehabbing the school for residential units, Cappleman said in January.
The second and third phases require zoning changes, which requires feedback from residents and the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee, he said.
The project cleared the Zoning Committee Tuesday and heads for final approval by the full City Council next week.
Morningside is applying for Landmark status and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has written a letter in support.
The site was at the center of controversy in the neighborhood Monday when city crews appeared in the morning to evict the homeless "tent city" campers, some of whom had been living on the property for months, and erect a fence to keep them from returning.
On Monday, representatives of the "tent city" homeless decried the development for its lack of affordable housing options.
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