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Chicago’s landmarked John Lothrop Motley School begins residential conversion

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The shuttered 1884 CPS structure received a permit to become 32 new apartments

Commission on Chicago Landmarks

Shuttered by Chicago Public Schools following the 2012-2013 academic year, West Town’s former John Lothrop Motley School is preparing to see new life as rental apartments. Designed by architect John J. Flanders in 1884 and featuring an 1898 addition by Norman Smith Patton, the four-story building at 739 N. Ada Street just received a permit to convert its former classrooms into 32 residential units. Plans also call for an attached parking garage, a new elevator, roof deck, courtyard, and exterior fencing.

The adaptive reuse project comes from architect Pappageorge Haymes Partners and developer Svigos Asset Management—a Buffalo Grove-based firm that reportedly paid $5.1 million for the property in 2015. Svigos also purchased the 1894 former Peabody School at nearby 1444 W. Augusta Boulevard for $3.1 million. The developer plans to convert that property into market-rate housing but has yet to receive any permits to do so.

Commission on Chicago Landmarks

Both buildings were granted historical landmark designation by the City of Chicago last fall. The move not only protects the 19th century structures, but also makes the properties eligible for a special tax assessment classification that financially incentivize their rehabilitation.

In addition to the adaptive reuse of the existing school building, the 739 N. Ada project also has city approvals in place to construct a second five-story, mixed-use building at the north end of the site. According to the zoning ordinance, the new structure would contain 24 dwelling units, 24 parking spaces, and ground-floor retail space.