The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Repurposing a historic school building as a teacher’s village: exploring the connection between school closures, housing affordability, and community goals in a gentrifying neighborhood

Repurposing a historic school building as a teacher’s village: exploring the connection between school closures, housing affordability, and community goals in a gentrifying neighborhood

The redevelopment of urban school buildings of historical value has the potential to contribute to the needs of current residents. Using a case study from Chicago, IL—where more than 50 schools in primarily minority and low- and moderate-income neighborhoods were closed in 2013—this article shows how a community group “Community As A Campus” (CAAC) sought to repurpose a former school site for community purposes in an already mixed-used, amenity-rich, and walkable area. CAAC advocated for housing for educators in the gentrifying neighborhood of West Town. The project, however, created tensions within residents from density related to market-rate units. This paper argues that the future of historic buildings to be preserved sustainably would depend on the ability of local leaders to find a balance between economic and community goals.

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