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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Plan To Turn Closed Von Humboldt School Into Teacher-Focused Apartment Complex Makes Its Way Through City Hall

The plan is to repurpose the school at 2620 W. Hirsch St. and carve out approximately 116 apartments, classrooms, community space and offices.

Von Humboldt school at 2620 W. Hirsch St. has sat vacant since 2013 when the district closed a record 50 schools.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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HUMBOLDT PARK — The “Teachers Village” project, which calls for converting the vacant Von Humboldt Elementary School into an apartment complex geared toward teachers, is winding its way through the city approval process.

The developer behind the project — Newark, N.J.-based RBH Group — introduced a zoning change at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that would accommodate the development, according to legislation filed with the city.

The plan is to repurpose the school at 2620 W. Hirsch St. and carve out approximately 116 apartments, classrooms, community space and offices. The current proposal also calls for 53 parking spaces and 9,300 square feet of retail space, according to the legislation.

Of the total apartments, 24 percent would be reserved as affordable for Chicagoans making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income, according to a spokesman for Ron Beit, CEO of RBH Group. About 35 percent would be for “middle-income” teachers and about 40 percent would be for market-rate renters, he said.

The city’s Committee on Zoning will refer the proposal to the city’s Plan Commission. City planners will then decide whether to advance to the full City Council for final approval. The earliest the Plan Commission could hear the proposal is July.

The project was first pitched in 2016. Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for former 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, told Block Club in January that RBH Group was having trouble coming up with funding but was ultimately able to find the money.

Von Humboldt Elementary School has sat empty since 2013. It was among the 50 schools closed in the largest mass school closure in the country’s modern history.

The “Teachers Village” project is modeled after an existing RBH Group development in downtown Newark called “Teachers Village,” which is made up of three charter schools, a day care center, apartments and retail — a mixed-use development geared toward teachers.

In 2015, nonprofit organization IFF, project partner as of 2017, bought the school for about $3.1 million and agreed to include one or more of the following components: day care programming, housing for current and retired public school teachers, office space and a cafe.

RBH Chicago Project LLC is now listed as the owner of the school, according to city legislation.

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