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Developer finally closes on Andersonville’s Trumbull School, adaptive reuse still planned

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After a deal to move a local theatre company into the space unraveled last fall, the project appears back on track

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The adaptive reuse of Andersonville’s old Lyman Trumbull Elementary School reached an important milestone this week as its developer finalized its acquisition of the property at 5200 N. Ashland. Designed by renowned Prairie School architect Dwight H. Perkins in 1909, the former school shut its doors in 2013. Though Svigos Asset Management agreed to purchase the property for $5.25 million, the sale took almost two years to complete.

“Svigos Development has closed on the Trumbull building this month and now owns the site,” read an email update from Alderman Pat O’Connor (40th). “They continue to work toward finding a theater partner for the first floor and are working toward beginning the residential and theater development.”

A conceptual rendering from Chicago Development Partners, one of serval developers that presented plans for the shuttered school. CDP lost out to Svigos.
Chicago Development Partners

Part of the lengthy delay involved complications from the site’s landmarking process—which proved to be a Catch 22 for the adaptive reuse plan. On one hand the protected status made the building eligible to receive historic preservation tax credits that were vital to the project’s financial viability. However, landmarking also imposed rules that were at odds with the development team’s objective to convert the building into 49 residential units and a theatre performance space.

These restrictions led Svigos and partner TimeLine Theatre to part ways in September, casting the future of the project into doubt. Though a plan to turn Trumbull’s auditorium into a performance venue is still in discussion, the developer could end up partnering with a school.

In May, the Chicago Board of Education approved a measure that would allow “a privately funded, non-public school” to occupy at least part of the vacant structure. According to DNAinfo, the Waldorf School has expressed interest in Andersonville site.