A community meeting was called on November 2nd by Chicago 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno at the former Von Humboldt Elementary School. PRCC and its partners, IFF, a non-proft community development organization, and the RBH Group, discussed their vision and initial plans to convert the now vacant building into a Teacher’s Square: a mix of teacher housing, a community-focused market and café, and a public square.
Ron Beit, a principal of RBH Group, presented the proposed site plans and designs for members of the community to provide input. The proposed project includes the renovation of the building into 84 rental units with a mix of studios, one and two bedroom units for teachers; a marketplace that would sell prepared foods and include communal tables for dining, and a space on the central main floor dedicated to bringing educators, parents, and youth together to learn.
The development also would include 34 units in above story building along Rockwell, an adjacent parking garage with enough spaces to serve both the residents and visitors to the market, and a central plaza designed to be a gathering space for residents as well as for the greater Humboldt Park community.
The former Von Humboldt Elementary School is currently owned by Chicago-based IFF. IFF has a long history of investing in and working with nonprofits in Humboldt Park, and it specifically recruited the RBH Group as the developer for this project because of its previous work in developing other teacher and education centered project counts for teachers to live there. He also said that a traffic study would be conducted as part of the process.
PRCC’s Executive Director, Jose E. Lopez spoke in support of Teachers Square and of PRCC’s engagement in the development to date, emphasizing that were it not for IFF’s interest and involvement, the building might have gone to a developer that would not be as engaged with the community or concerned about affordability. He also spoke about PRCC’s vision for the “Community As A Campus” and how the project would support that vision in the community. Raymond Valadez, Alderman Moreno’s Chief of Staff , also spoke in favor of the project.
Other attendees included neighbors, local nonprofits, schools and churches, and members of the East Humboldt Park Neighborhood Association. Additional community meetings to discuss Teachers Square will be scheduled as the project moves forward.
by Rich Wallach, IFF