New loan program to repurpose shuttered CPS buildings

The complete story appeared in the December 11, 2018, edition of Crain’s Chicago Business. Click here to read the complete article by Alby Gallum.

CCLF, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, will use its $5 million Benefit Chicago loan to launch the Repurpose Initiative which is an effort to breathe new life into five empty former Chicago Public School buildings on the South and West sides. The first redevelopment to be financed by CCLF is the conversion of the former Overton School in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The Washington Park Development Group (WPDG) will transform the empty structure into a business incubator, with 40 individual spaces and a multi-purpose common area. Benefit Chicago resources lent by CCLF to WPDG will provide the early money needed to secure the remaining financial resources.

“For local residents, a closed school signals distress and abandonment,” said Calvin Holmes, President, CCLF. “A revived and repurposed school is a beacon of hope for a neighborhood. It provides needed services and amenities, boosts traffic for nearby businesses, and encourages additional investment.”

Preliminary plans for transforming the other schools include creating a youth business incubator, light manufacturing work space, dormitories for City Colleges of Chicago students, affordable housing, art studios and more. By providing developers with access to low-cost capital to renovate and repurpose closed school buildings, CCLF is helping to transform symbols of loss into new opportunities for growing small businesses, employment, community activities and cohesion.