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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Plan To Turn Closed Von Humboldt School Into Teacher-Focused Apartment Complex Still On The Table As Neighbors Weigh In

It's the first meeting under new Ald. La Spata (1st), who in June said he wouldn't support the project unless the developer included more affordable family-sized apartments.

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 — Neighbors will soon get to weigh in on a long-stalled plan to convert the vacant Von Humboldt Elementary School into an apartment complex geared toward teachers.

New Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) is hosting a community meeting on the project 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12 at the school, 262o W. Hirsch St.

It will be the project’s first meeting under La Spata, who in June said he wouldn’t support the project unless the developer included more affordable family-sized apartments.

The alderman told Block Club the current development proposal “does not meet my standards, the community’s standards or the standards of the teachers I’ve talked to.”

“I took it to a number of 1st Ward teachers who came back to me and said this assumes that all teachers are single, don’t have kids and have salaries that come with 10-20 years of experience. They said what they’re seeing does not work for teachers or paraprofessionals,” the alderman previously said.

But the developer behind the project, Newark-based RBH Group, already owns the vacant school building, according to city legislation.

RBH Group has been trying to get the project off the ground since 2016.

The East Coast developer is looking to repurpose the vacant school and carve out approximately 116 apartments, classrooms, community space and offices. The developer’s proposal also calls for 53 parking spaces and 9,300 square feet of retail space.

The goal is to create a mixed-use community where teachers can live, eat, shop and take classes.

The project is modeled after an existing RBH Group development in downtown Newark, New Jersey — also called “Teachers Village,” which is made up of three charter schools, a daycare center, apartments and retail.

Under the Humboldt Park proposal, 24 percent of the apartments would be affordable for Chicagoans making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. About 35 percent would be for “middle-income” teachers and about 40 percent would be for market-rate renters.

According to Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for former 1st Ward alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, the developer had trouble getting the necessary funding to get the Humboldt Park project off the ground, which is why the project stalled.

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