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Shuttered West Side school to reopen as new CHA offices, affordable-rate apartments

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The adaptive reuse plan for Nathaniel Pope Elementary is awaiting the final OK from the Chicago City Council

After closing its doors in 2013 due to underperforming enrollment, a three-story former public school in North Lawndale is poised to be reborn as affordable housing and new administrative offices for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Located at 1852 S. Albany Avenue just across the street from Douglas Park, the 1918 building once known as Nathaniel Pope Elementary School will remain virtually unchanged from the outside. An adaptive reuse plan designed by Chicago firm SMNG-A would see the interior reconfigured to meet the structure’s new mixed-use needs.

Before the CHA can take possession of the property from the Chicago Commission of Public Buildings—who took ownership of Pope following its closure—a zoning change authorizing the building’s new non-education use needs to clear the Chicago City Council. With the request approved earlier this month by the Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards, the measure is expected to pass this final hurdle without major incident.

The building’s first two floors are slated contain offices, call centers, and conference rooms for the CHA while the third floor will be converted into 14 one- and two-bedroom affordable rate apartments aimed at senior or veteran tenants. The school’s former auditorium has been earmarked for use by a to-be-announced "community "partner." Local 24th Ward Alderman Michael Scott tells Austin Weekly News that his office is in talks with the North Shore's Ravinia Festival to set up a music school inside the older structure.