While Saving Money, Sparking Investment and Enhancing Safety
CHICAGO – Mayoral candidate Jerry Joyce on Thursday announced a plan to repurpose five vacant Chicago Public Schools buildings as new community-based training academies for the city’s fire and police departments, a proposal that could save the city up to $100 million and provide a catalyst for investment in economically-depressed neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides.
“Mayor Emanuel’s current plan for a $100 million training academy completely ignores the fiscal health of the city at a time when our finances are broken,” Joyce said. “We certainly need to invest in improved police training but we also must be smarter with our resources and more transparent with the process. My plan ensures that public safety, economic development and fiscal responsibility go hand-in-hand.”
The proposed school sites were selected because they are located in newly-created Federal Opportunity Zones, which offer tax incentives to spur investment. Repurposing the vacant buildings in these zones also will help attract additional investment.
The five shuttered Chicago Public Schools buildings proposed in the Joyce plan could either be refurbished by the city at a much lower cost or be publicly auctioned, whereby the purchaser could refurbish the property and lease it back to the city. In either scenario, the move would benefit public safety and spark revitalization efforts. Additionally, the city would save an estimated $400,000 annually in costs associated with the five buildings.
The tens of millions of dollars saved by the Joyce proposal would be dedicated to unfunded pension liabilities for first responders.
“It is a travesty that so many of these buildings have remained vacant for so long now,” Joyce said. In coming weeks, he will be announcing more proposals for the use of city properties that remain vacant.
The school buildings proposed for refurbishing as training academies are:
Emmet School, 5500 W. Madison St.
Melody School, 412 S. Keeler Ave.
Mays School, 838 W. Marquette Rd.
Yale School, 7025 S. Princeton Ave.
Ross School, 6059 S. Wabash Ave.