Controversial High School Expansion Lands at Plan Commission

Walter Payton High School

Walter Payton High School

Next week, the Chicago Plan Commission is scheduled to take up the thorny issue of the Walter Payton College Prep High School expansion (1034 North Wells Street).

Last October, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced the $17 million annex would be built on the site of a school parking lot.  This came while the Chicago Public School system was still smarting from a round of school closings and teacher layoffs.

The money for the expansion will come from TIF money, the controversial funding source that the Chicago Teachers Union asked the city to tap in order to prevent some of the neighborhood school closures that briefly put the school system in the national spotlight.  The mayor’s office notes that TIF money can only be used for construction and infrastructure, not for operating expenses.

The school currently has 851 students.  With the annex, it will be able to handle an additional 400.  In 2012, 6,200 students applied to be part of the freshman class.

Koo and Associates will be the architect of record for the project.  You may remember that firm from such buildings as theWit hotel, and we’re not sure what else since the company’s web site seems to be powered by a Commodore 64. The Chicago Public Building Commission wants to start construction this summer so it can be finished by December of 2015.

Location: 1034 North Wells Street, Near North Side

Walter Payton High School

Walter Payton High School

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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