I sponsored a community meeting last November on a proposal for a zoning change to allow the Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) to move into the old Clark Mall site at 7212 N. Clark (across from Touhy Park). The proposal was met with overwhelming support at the community meeting, which over 100 community residents attended, and my Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee recommended I support the proposal, as well. Accordingly, I have decided to support the zoning change.
CMSA, a charter school of the Chicago Public School system, serving grades 6-12, and is currently located at Morse and Paulina in the old St. Jerome's school. They have outgrown their current location and have been actively looking for a new Rogers Park home.
At my urging, the owners of the old Clark Mall site at 7212 N. Clark (across from Touhy Park) agreed to enter into negotiations sell the property to CMSA. The parties reached an agreement, and CMSA developed plans to retrofit the property to meet their needs. In order to move to the site, the school needed to change the zoning from its current C2-2 designation to RT-4.
Some concerns were expressed at the community meeting about the school's plans to make use of Touhy Park across the street for some of its athletic activities. School officials responded that they already use the park, and the Touhy Park supervisor, who attended the meeting, reported that the park has suffered no adverse impact as a result. Some neighbors of the park expressed the belief that the school's presence in the park would make the park more secure.
Others in attendance expressed concerns about the traffic impact on Clark Street. The school officials assured the residents that employees would be outside the school at the beginning of the school day and at dismissal directing traffic and insuring the safe passage of the children. It was also pointed out that the traffic impact would be far less extensive than the property's former use as a shopping mall. The original construction plans called for small windows on the Clark Street side. I and others at the meeting expressed the desire for larger windows, and as a result the school revised its plans to increase the size of the windows.
The site plans and the north and east elevations of the building are below:
CMSA_Site_Plans.pdf (1188 KB)
CMSA_Elevations.pdf (858 KB)
The City Council will vote on the proposed zoning change at this Wednesday's meeting. The school administrators have an ambitious construction schedule and hope to be able to move into their new home by the start of school in September of this year.
If you have any questions or further comments, please reply to this e-mail or call my office at 773-338-5796.