RBH Group nabs $18M in city grants for Humboldt Park school conversion

Teachers Village project will have housing for educators

RBH spokesperson Lonnie Soury with Teachers Village
RBH spokesperson Lonnie Soury with Teachers Village (Getty, Teachers Village)

A stalled plan to redevelop the long-vacant Von Humboldt Elementary School into a residential “Teachers Village” secured some of the funding it needs to move forward.

Last month, the city awarded $18 million in tax-exempt bonds to developer RBH Group to transform the shuttered Humboldt Park elementary school, at 2620 West Hirsch Street, Block Club Chicago reported. The developer is working with the city’s Department of Housing to request additional funding for the $50.6 million project.

The Chicago City Council approved the project, which is modeled after a similar development in New Jersey, back in 2020. The development will include 102 apartment units marketed to educators, five market-rate townhouses, commercial and retail space, a learning center and public plaza.

In response to Ald. Daniel La Spata’s concerns about gentrification in Humboldt Park and Logan Square, 52 of the apartment units will be designated as affordable housing, including 27 that are funded by Chicago Housing Authority vouchers.

The pandemic has contributed to the project’s delay, but RBH spokesperson Lonnie Soury said the Teachers Village was always expected to take several years to be completed.

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“When you have a project like this, which involves public financing, private financing, bonds and city approval, … they take a lot of work and a lot of time and the process is slower than we would all like, but certainly one that is moving along,” Soury told the outlet.

Von Humboldt was one of almost 50 “underutilized” public schools that then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel shut down in 2013. The main part of the school was built in the 1880s while the second building was added in 1895 and the third in 1921. The redevelopment will preserve the school’s original exterior.

Other school conversions in Chicago have resulted in high-priced apartments that have been considered symbols of gentrification. The former Stewart Elementary School in Uptown is known for its high prices and Peabody Elementary School in Noble Square was recently transformed into luxury apartments.

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Victoria Pruitt