Tuesday, January 15, 2013

British School of Chicago Updates: Bureaucracy, Roof Parks and Public Notices

The British School of Chicago moving to the Sloop was a hot topic late last year and it appears that will continue to be in 2013.  The highly informative blog, The Chicago Architecture Blog, has a great piece called The South Loop's British (School) Invasion.

Based on their post, it sounds like there is some bureaucratic issues that need to be sorted out (SURPRISE!):
The paperwork is just starting to make its way through the bureaucracy, and is expected to have a more complicated tour of City Hall than most buildings. This is because of the redistricting of Chicago’s wards in 2012. It appears that the eastern portion of the building might be in William Burns’ Fourth Ward, while the western portion would be in Danny Solis’ 25th Ward.
The ward boundary doesn’t run down something easy like a street — it has a couple of weird angles in that area, so the school and the developers, McCaffery Roosevelt, have to wait while the city tries to figure out who’s turf is in play. That is important, of course, because of the public meetings. While CDOT and the Chicago Fire Department and other city agencies have been briefed on the school, the public has not.
Also of interest was the plans for the "roof park" which appears to be included to appease residents:
We’ve already heard from some of the neighbors who are angry before they’ve even seen the plan. They believe the school will take the place of a public park they were promised.
Looking at the original documents for the Roosevelt Collection from 2006, the neighbors are right — they were promised a park. In fact, the developer is obligated to spend $2 million building the park. However, in all of the diagrams filed with the city, the park is on the west side of the project, not on the east side. So there may be room for both. 
For what it’s worth, the building’s design appears to give the public some green space. The new school will be attached to the Roosevelt Collection structure so that a person can walk directly from the shops onto the roof of the school, which is designed to be a large garden.
I'm sure everyone wants a park (we do)...but making it inline with the retail grade at Roosevelt Collection could be a smart solution.  Probably not ideal, but interesting none-the-less.

Finally, a reader sent us a picture of a public notice sign that has been put up to make neighbors aware of this potential change (we assume).  They say they're going to have neighborhood meetings to discuss this plan...we will keep you posted as we hear more.

(Hat tip: W & CJ!)

12 comments:

Cherise said...

I can't figure out how that spot will be big enough for a school. Are they planning to take over the parking lot on Wells just north of Roosevelt Collection?

Also, the long-promised "public park" on the roof is BS.

Katherine said...

This is the same sign that is posted in the recently fenced-up lot north of Target on Clark.

rokd said...

Why the objection to a park on the roof? I don't understand how, without seeing any plans, design, etc., one could be so opposed to it. I mean, I do understand that the land will no longer belong to the city, future use will be limited etc. but otherwise a park is a park, especially if it integrates with Roosevelt Collection. That itself will make the RC development much more fluid and less insular. I think it will somehow feel more integrated to the neighborhood grid.

I believe the School should pay the city for the land (hopefully to reinvest in our neighborhood [ha!]) and then build a proper, well designed park. An elevated park could have very nice views, no reason to dismiss it off-hand. We can have the best of both worlds: density/development and park space.

Cherise said...

My opposition to the roof park is this: I already have green space with nice views on the roof of my building.

The neighborhood could really benefit from green space at street level to brighten things up a bit. I'm thinking about a couple years from now, when the lot on the east side of the Metra tracks is another AMLI tower and the lot at the corner of Wells and Harrison will possibly be under development, which will get rid of grass and block the view of the river. There isn't going to be much open sky/space left.

Which is fine -- I realize I'm living in a densely populated urban area and I chose to move here from the suburbs. And I'm not opposed to the idea of the school, in general. However, to take land that was promised for a public park and then trying to skirt the rules and appease the neighborhood by sticking a few trees on the roof is obnoxious, and the general attitude of these developers is condescending.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Cherise.

I also am skeptical of public access to a park located atop a school and feel that the neighborhood would benefit more from a park at street level. It seems to me like the neighborhood wants what they were promised, nothing more, nothing less.

I will remain skeptical until I find out more at these community meetings.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...this could be pretty cool. I live at AMLI 900 with an east facing apartment, a low-rise building connected to RC would protect views from AMLI 900 and the new AMLI buildings and have hopefully an attractive park on top (as opposed to wasteland and car lots which it is now).

I am also skeptical however that a public park on top of a school would ever get permission though...seems very unlikely.


Cherise said...

A public park on top of a private school, no less.

Christopher S said...

Let's not be stupid, there is nothing public about a park attached to a private commercial/residential space. It will be a green sitting area for the residents and customers of the Roosevelt Collection with a few private mall security guards. A green space that is only "street level" to the Roosevelt Collection is in no way beneficial for the surrounding area (and makes it even more insular @rokd), particularly the neighbors on the actual street level.

They get a green space and the residents north of the Roosevelt Collection lose valuable street parking and get the increased congestion and traffic from the new school. They may as well make it like the park on River City because that is essentially what it will be, inaccessible and beneficial to only its residents.

In General, I too am not opposed to a new school, it will bring some added benefits to the community as a whole. Nothing better than having a school for the wealthy at about 26k a year to attract more wealthy people and hopefully increase my property value. It will also add a few jobs too which is great. Maybe we will have the added benefit of people not letting their dogs crap all over without cleaning up out of embarrassment (Blonde woman with large St. Bernard, clean that horse dung) from being across from the school.

*** Side Note: is anyone else disgusted by the volume of dog poop on Financial between Polk and 9th?***

I am opposed to the manner in which the school is planned, its location, and loss of public space. It is already difficult to get in and out of this small pocket between Harrison-Roosevelt and Metra Tracks-River. Opening 9th from Wells to Clark as suggested by preliminary plans will not alleviate any of the potential traffic problems, it will only complicate matters, especially with the addition of the two new Amli towers being built on Clark. This pocket is the last open land in immediate vicinity to the loop, its use should be well planned for the long-term development of the community not for the immediate marketability of a struggling and poorly planned condo/commercial development. Finally, if they do build the school I hope it does not look half as bad as the current building on Halsted.

Christopher S said...

Let's not be stupid, there is nothing public about a park attached to a private commercial/residential space. It will be a green sitting area for the residents and customers of the Roosevelt Collection with a few private mall security guards. A green space that is only "street level" to the Roosevelt Collection is in no way beneficial for the surrounding area (and makes it even more insular @rokd), particularly the neighbors on the actual street level.

They get a green space and the residents north of the Roosevelt Collection lose valuable street parking and get the increased congestion and traffic from the new school. They may as well make it like the park on River City because that is essentially what it will be, inaccessible and beneficial to only its residents.

In General, I too am not opposed to a new school, it will bring some added benefits to the community as a whole. Nothing better than having a school for the wealthy at about 26k a year to attract more wealthy people and hopefully increase my property value. It will also add a few jobs too which is great. Maybe we will have the added benefit of people not letting their dogs crap all over without cleaning up out of embarrassment (Blonde woman with large St. Bernard, clean that horse dung) from being across from the school.

*** Side Note: is anyone else disgusted by the volume of dog poop on Financial between Polk and 9th?***

I am opposed to the manner in which the school is planned, its location, and loss of public space. It is already difficult to get in and out of this small pocket between Harrison-Roosevelt and Metra Tracks-River. Opening 9th from Wells to Clark as suggested by preliminary plans will not alleviate any of the potential traffic problems, it will only complicate matters, especially with the addition of the two new Amli towers being built on Clark. This pocket is the last open land in immediate vicinity to the loop, its use should be well planned for the long-term development of the community not for the immediate marketability of a struggling and poorly planned condo/commercial development. Finally, if they do build the school I hope it does not look half as bad as the current building on Halsted.

Michael said...

Dog poop on Financial Place? Yes whenever I go down that block I walk in the street. But hey some people have big important things to do and just can't be bothered to pick up after their dogs. Fecal Place would be a more appropriate street name.

Anonymous said...

The property is being purchased - I don't understand why people believe they are entitled to something at other people's expense, like full-time access to a park located on private property. The developer is getting a "deal" on the price, perhaps - but if it's such a deal, why has the area been vacant so long? Honestly, some people want something for nothing - while others pay twice to get something once - like a decent education for our kids - I pay property taxes for schools that suck, and pay again to send my kids to private schools, only to have to read whining by people who expect to control every inch of space within sight of their property.

Anonymous said...

Considering this site is currently required to be developed as a park under the current PDO, you couldn't be more wrong. This developer has benefited from the PDO (and TIF money), and now, once they have realized the benefit, they want to back out of the PDO and deprive the community of their long-awaited park. There's plenty of land in this developer's hands... if he really wants to put the school here so badly, why doesn't he sacrifice some of the land where he's proposing high-rises? Why does the school have to come at the expense of the public's park?

Quite simply, it is NOT the developer's land to develop with a school... that's why he has to seek an amendment to the PDO (and the public input required to do so).