In an unprecedented move last summer, the Chicago School Board voted to close 49 schools in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system, and now the city is preparing for a massive fire sale of many of the publicly owned properties. Despite outcry from neighborhood and community groups, many South and West Side schools were affected by the closure last summer, but now CPS is open to taking suggestions from the public on how some of the buildings can be repurposed. CPS has recently launched a website that lists and maps every closed school that has a potential for repurposing, as well as a timetable for the monumental task. Although some former schools may be reutilized by their communities or city agencies for operations use, the likely outcome is that the city will sell off a large majority of the former schools.
In CPS' Report of the Advisory Committee for School Repurposing and Community Development, some of the suggested uses for former schools include re-use for affordable housing, community centers, market-rate housing, new construction commercial development, and new construction mixed-use development. In other words, when CPS says that it is looking to repurpose many of the closed schools, what it actually means is that it is looking to sell the property. In the CPS' Real Estate Disposition Process, the school district states that it is required to sell property to the highest bidder,
The Illinois School Code sets forth the process by which Chicago Public Schools may sell real estate. Specifically, 105 ILCS 5/34D21 provides that CPS must publicly advertise its intent to sell such real estate and solicit bids for purchase. For each property, CPS may then (i) accept the highest responsible bid, (ii) reject any and all bids, or (iii) negotiate separately with the two (2) highest and best bids, provided such negotiations do not result in a reduction or devaluation of the terms of the sale. The new website also indicates that public meetings will be held to discuss the closed schools and what to do them, however no meetings have been scheduled just yet.
· CPS Wants Input on How to Use Vacant Buildings [NBC Chicago]
· 2013 School Repurposing Locations [Chicago Public Schools]