Park, new intersection could replace old Jones College Prep

Tearing down the house

08/10/2011 10:00 PM


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File 2006/Staff

Construction is finally underway on the seven-story new Jones College Prep building, but the fate of the original school has been unclear.

Now, however, Chicago Public Schools and the city’s construction agency have come up with a tentative plan for the old school: demolish it, and replace it with a park and a straightened street.

The new school, at 700 S. State St., is estimated to cost roughly $91 million to build, but CPS has about $129 million to work with overall for the project. According to a document from its July meeting, some of that extra $38 million will be used to demolish the old building and redevelop the land into green space and athletic facilities.

Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Public Building Commission, the agency that handles construction on any major government project in the city, confirmed that’s what the city is looking at on doing at the site now — though that could change in the future.

Simon also said they’d like to straighten out the now-crooked intersection at Harrison Street, which currently requires anyone hoping to cross State Street to make a right and a left turn.

“It is our hope to tear down the building, build a park and straighten out Harrison,” Simon said. “We’re considering further options for the site.”

The new Jones Prep will already have more athletic facilities than the current building, which dates back to the 1960s and didn’t have much in the way of recreational space. The new school will have a full-fledged pool and natatorium, but plans for outdoor space had yet to be declared.

It’s unclear who would own and manage any green space next to the school, though. Neither Simon nor schools spokesman Frank Shuftan had any information about the land beyond the fact that it was generally planned to be green space.

The project is getting $124 million in property tax dollars from the Near South TIF fund. CPS is covering the remaining $5 million for the project.

In exchange for giving TIF dollars to the new high school, Ald. Bob Fioretti asked CPS to add 300 seats to the school that would be set aside only for South Loop residents. The new school will have space for 1,250 students — an increase from the 800 students that the old Jones held.

The new Jones is slated to open in fall 2013; the old building will remain in use until then.

This article has been clarified to reflect that the Public Building Commission does not have specific plans for the site at this time, but options that it is considering.

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By Adrienne Kolb from Printers Row
Posted: 08/31/2012 3:29 PM

What is going on with this gigantic towering high school? It was supposed to be 7 stories tall but construction appears to be on the 12th floor now. Has the plan changed? How tall will it grow?

By Creighton from South Loop
Posted: 08/22/2011 1:41 PM

As a South Loop resident with a daughter who attends the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), I was very hopeful that the current Jones building would become the permanent home for ChiArts. The ChiArts students are being moved from school to school as CPS tries to decide where to house them permanently. The location of the current Jones school seems ideal as it sits on the Red Line and is so close to the theater district, Columbia and Roosevelt. Selfishly hoping they reconsider.