A Lincoln Park private school is buying up neighboring condos, scaring owners

The Francis W. Parker School bought two condos in a nearby Belden Avenue building after its bid to buy the whole property was rejected

327 West Belden Avenue and Francis W. Parker School crest (Credit: Google Maps and Facebook)
327 West Belden Avenue and Francis W. Parker School crest (Credit: Google Maps and Facebook)

A private Lincoln Park grade school is buying up condos in an adjacent building, kicking up protests from neighbors who fear it may be part of a long game to take over surrounding properties.

The Francis W. Parker school paid about $1.8 million in April and May to buy two units in the 15-unit building at 327 West Belden Avenue, according to the Chicago Tribune. The sales went through after the building’s condo association rejected an $11.2 million offer from the school to buy the property outright.

Leaders of the school, whose tuition starts above $31,000 per year, also made a $19 million offer for the adjacent 19-unit building at 317-325 West Belden. That offer was also shot down.

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The condo associations sent letters to the school asking that it stop targeting condos in the nearby properties. But principal Dan Frank said the school has no imminent plans to expand its campus, telling the Tribune that the condo purchases were a “down the road thing” aimed at keeping its options open.

Parker board of trustees president Rika Yoshida is married to Joe Mansueto, the billionaire founder of Morningstar. The board’s secretary, Baum Realty Group Mike Demetriou, is volunteering to help the school expand its footprint.

The luxury condo market has skidded this year in Lincoln Park, which saw fewer than half as many units close above $1 million between January and March this year than during the first quarter of 2018. [Chicago Tribune]Alex Nitkin