Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ald. La Spata needs to dump Moreno's plan for Von Humboldt School

Von Humboldt closed in 2013 when the district shuttered 50 schools. In July of 2015, IFF (formerly known as Illinois Facilities Fund) bought the school for about $3.1 million 
This from Mina Bloom at Block Club Chicago:
Nearly 200 Humboldt Park residents, teachers and teacher advocates packed into the Von Humboldt Elementary School auditorium this week to weigh in on a long-stalled plan to turn the shuttered school into an apartment complex geared toward teachers. At the chaotic two-hour-long meeting Monday night, the majority of residents who spoke during public comment lambasted the developer behind the project, East Coast-based RBH Group, and Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st). 
They took turns slamming the project, saying it doesn’t address Humboldt Park’s gentrification-fueled displacement problem and that teachers won’t be able to afford the apartments. Some said they’d much rather see officials reopen the school, which closed in 2013 when the district closed a record 50 schools.
“We would like to see the school be back open,” local teacher Jhoanna Maldonado said to cheers. “Whether there’s 10 kids, 100 kids or 2,000 kids in this neighborhood — every kid should deserve to go to their neighborhood school. If that’s not the case, it should be housing for families who have been displaced from our neighborhoods.”

 My note this morning to Ald. La Spata...
I'm surprised to hear that you are continuing your corrupt predecessor's backing for the Von Humboldt condo plan. The current version of plan was originally part of a deal indicted Ald. Joe Moreno worked out with RBH developers, a self-interested community group [that used to oppose gentrification], and with Teach for America (TFA) to house charter school teachers contracted to CPS to replace those lost to Rahm's mass school closings. Once media caught wind of it, the charter school plan was dropped and shifted to this so-called "teachers housing" scheme. It should be rejected and the building used for public good, including a new smaller public school.
Side note... RBH announced back in April, that it started a $700 million fund to invest in Teachers Village projects in Opportunity Zones. The firm already has developed a Teachers Village in Newark, New Jersey. It includes three charter schools, a daycare center, apartments and more than 70,000 square feet of retail. 
Ald. La Spata responded promptly:
It seems there’s still a lot of misinformation out there on what this project is. I’ll make sure to respond later with more details.
Thank you for the quick response, Alderman. And thanks for opening this up for community debate and discussion. I look forward to continuing the conversation. I trust you will do the right thing.

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