Officials push against $120M Near South Side school

School would be built on former public housing land

State Representative Theresa Mah, Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez and Mayor Lori Lightfoot with 2420 South State Street (Ward 25, Representative Theresa Mah, Getty, Google Maps)
State Representative Theresa Mah, Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez and Mayor Lori Lightfoot with 2420 South State Street (Ward 25, Representative Theresa Mah, Getty, Google Maps)

Near South Side Chicagoans are opposing plans to build a $120 million high school, and gained key allies in their quest to quash that project to keep a public housing development within its original framework.

Organizers in Bronzeville and Chinatown gathered outside of the Chicago Public Schools’ headquarters at 42 West Madison Street on Wednesday to call out Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS for pushing the controversial deal through, Block Club Chicago reported. They were joined by Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, whose 25th ward includes neighborhoods that would be served by the school.

“When we don’t have deliberation or due process to listen or prioritize the needs of our community, we end up with these kinds of decisions that do not represent the best interests of our community at large,” Sigcho-Lopez said at the rally.

In a close vote of 4-3, the Chicago Board of Education last week approved plans to begin construction on the new open-enrollment high school on the site of the former Harold Ickes Homes at 2420 South State Street. The approval included the board buying land at 23rd Street and Wabash Avenue for $10.3 million and swapping the land with the Chicago Housing Authority.

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The Southbridge mixed-income development that will provide 244 apartments for CHA families is already being built on part of the State Street land. The high school will be located on the southernmost end of the site. The school will lease that land from the housing agency and, in return, trade the deed for the land on Wabash Avenue for CHA to complete the Southbridge development.

“Chinatown residents have said so many times that we do not want this school at 24th and State,” Angela Lin, co-founder of People Matter, one of the organizations protesting the plans, told the outlet. “We need a school, but CPS is capitalizing on the community’s need to pit us against each other.”

Sigcho-Lopez plans to garner fellow aldermen to oppose the project and reject the city’s plan to approve $7 million in tax increment finance funding to buy the Wabash land, which would be a big hit to the project. In addition, State Rep. Theresa Mah, a former supporter of the school, told the outlet she would ask Governor JB Pritzker to not release the $50 million in state funding she previously secured for the project.

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