Skip to contents
Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Controversial Plan To Turn Closed Humboldt School Into Teacher-Focused Apartments Stalls Again

The project would transform the school shuttered during mass closings into 107 apartments and five townhomes.

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
  • Credibility:

Get more in-depth, daily coverage of Chicago politics at The Daily Line.

HUMBOLDT PARK — Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said Wednesday he will ask members of the Chicago Plan Commission to delay a vote on a proposal to turn the vacant Von Humboldt Elementary School into an 107-unit apartment complex and five townhomes geared toward teachers.

The developer — Newark, N.J.-based RBH Group — has been trying since 2016 to transform the shuttered Humboldt Park elementary school, which has been vacant since it was one of 49 schools closed in 2013 as part of the largest mass school closure in the country’s modern history.

This is the second time La Spata has asked the Plan Commission not to consider the proposal. In June, the rookie alderman blocked the Plan Commission from considering the proposal.

“There is still a lot of tension with the community,” La Spata said. “I think we can get it there, but we are not there yet.”

Plans detailed by the developer at community meetings would reserve 24 percent of the apartments for Chicagoans making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income, with another 35 percent for “middle-income” teachers, according to Block Club Chicago.

La Spata said he was not convinced that plan for affordable housing was enough to win his support.

“There is a lot of concern about whether it would help people being priced out of the community,” La Spata said, adding that some in the neighborhood want the developer to sign a community benefits agreement. “I would be disappointed if it moves forward.”

The plan also calls for 53 parking spaces and “classroom, community, commercial and office uses,” according to documents submitted to the Chicago Planning Department.

In response to questions about whether the item will be considered, a spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Development referred The Daily Line to the city’s code, which requires the Plan Commission to hold and conclude a public hearing within 30 days of commencement,” unless the applicant asks for an extension.

Under the city’s unwritten rule of aldermanic prerogative that gives each alderman the ultimate say over what happens in their own ward, La Spata could block the Plan Commission from considering the project indefinitely. However, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot works to roll back aldermen’s veto power, it was unclear whether the proposal would move forward without La Spata’s support.

RELATED: At 6-month mark, Lightfoot’s effort to scale back aldermanic prerogative a work in progress

In other action, the commission will weigh a plan to redevelop a Fulton Market dairy supply facility into a 16-story, 259 room hotel.

The hotel at 1234 W. Randolph St. would be operated by Standard Hotel, according to Crain’s.

Also in the red-hot Fulton Market District in the 27th Ward, commissioners will weigh whether to endorse a plan to build a 243-unit apartment complex including an 11-story tower with 87 accessory vehicular parking spaces and 180 bicycle parking stalls near Union Park.

Naperville-based developer Marquette plans to renovate an existing five-story building on the site and use it as offices, according to documents submitted to the Chicago Planning Department.

In June, Crain’s reported that beer maker 25 West Brewing had agreed to open a restaurant on the ground floor of the tower.

The commission is also set to consider a proposal to build a seven-story apartment building with 80 units at 2604-2742 N. Sheffield Ave. in the 43rd Ward.

The new building would connect to two existing 11-story residential buildings with 45 parking spaces. Eleven units in the two existing buildings would be set aside for seniors, according to documents submitted to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

Other items set to be considered by the Plan Commission include:

  • Permission to build a seven-story, 408-space parking garage at 3001-29 N. Sheffield Ave. in the 44th Ward.
  • Permission to allow the Ivy Hotel to install a retractable structure to enclose its existing rooftop terrace.
  • An agreement to sell Building H at 5801 N. Pulaski Road in the 39th Ward to Elderly Housing Development & Operations Corp.
  • Permission to allow Global Citizenship Experience Lab School to add a high school to its campus at 51- 65 E. Randolph St. in the 42nd Ward.
  • Permission to allow Nicholas Pupillo to open a dance studio inside an existing one-story building at 3121 N. Rockwell Ave. in the 33rd Ward.
  • Permission to build a new building for John Hancock High School at 5437 W. 64th Place in the 13th Ward.

Projects endorsed by the Plan Commission head next to the City Council’s Zoning Committee, and then to the full City Council for approval.


Vacant Since Mass School Closings, Von Humboldt Still On Track To Become Apartment Complex Geared Toward Teachers

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

Plan To Turn Von Humboldt School Into Apartment Complex Geared Toward Teachers Draws Heated Reaction From Residents