Fenwick advances expansion plan

School plans to demolish adjacent condo buildings in 2018

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Fenwick High School is making progress on a long-term redevelopment plan rolled out in 2015 to expand the campus and reorient its main building to face Madison Street.

Nancy Bufalino, Fenwick's chief operating officer, said in a telephone interview that in 2018, the school plans to demolish two condo buildings that run along the west side of Scoville Avenue between Madison Street and Washington Boulevard.

The demolitions will make room for the expanded campus, which includes construction of a parking garage and a new band room, choir room and cafeteria. The expanded campus also will include a small park on the southwest corner of the campus.

Fenwick also is moving forward with plans to ask Oak Park's village government to vacate a public alley that runs through the existing campus. Fenwick representatives will present their proposal for the alley vacation at the next Oak Park Plan Commission meeting scheduled for Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

Bufalino said the redevelopment project is "slow moving" and Fenwick staff are laying the ground work for construction, which will come at a much later date.

"There are no other plans (next year) other than taking down the condos," she said.

She said the school wants to be "in a position to move when we're ready to move on things."

She noted that the redevelopment plan could change in the coming years as the school gets closer to construction, but for now, Fenwick is moving forward with the proposal presented to the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals in July 2014.

Fenwick officials told the ZBA at the time that the school has no plans to expand beyond the boundaries of the existing campus footprint.

Meanwhile, the school continues its fundraising efforts to pay for the expansion project.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 10th, 2017 6:29 PM

Christopher Bell, you may be the person I knew when you attended Fenwick. Great school, and a lot of alumni who has gone on and became top people. Fenwick, does help all students who want to attend Fenwick, and work with financial plans

Christopher Bell  

Posted: December 10th, 2017 5:25 PM

There are several important issues to consider. First, Fenwick is a very high caliber/world class school that brings significant brand/economic benefits to OPRF and Fenwick needs great facilities to compete with other private schools (i.e. latin, etc. over the long run. The counter point is many students hail from Oak Brook, Hinsdale etc (with $18,500 a year tuition) and many people in Oak PArk do not directly benefit. One thing is certain, Fenwick has a deep and powerful Alumni network which will get a deal done. By the time it reaches the press, it is a done deal.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 5:16 PM

Christina Sellis Loranz, before you start jumping ahead of yourself, you first need your question answered so you don't make assumptions. Maybe you can call Fenwick, and propose your question to them or you can search the addresses to find out if taxes are being paid

Christina Sellis Loranz  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 4:48 PM

Does Fenwick pay property taxes on all this land? I assume not, right? What about the condo or apartment buildings, I would think, they have to pay the property taxes on those properties, right? So if they turn those properties into park or garage, does that mean no more property taxes?

Marty Bracco  

Posted: December 8th, 2017 8:08 AM

Jeffrey Smith, FYI, Fenwick has already purchased and fully refurbished the formerly dormant football stadium/track at Triton College. The just completed their second full year using that complex. I'm not sure how much you know about Fenwick, but it in no way resembles a "corporate church". The Dominicans are funny that way, focusing on teaching, not finance.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: December 8th, 2017 3:53 AM

How long before the Oak Park Board let's them eat up neighboring blocks (by dint of eminent domain) and build that football stadium they've always wanted? Enough is enough. Private citizens don't have a chance against corporate churches.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 6:01 PM

In addition to the loss of their homes for the residents of these two buildings, it appears that two taxable properties will be removed from the property tax rolls in order to complete this project. So now all of the local taxpayers will see an increase n their property tax bills to compensate for the removal of these two properties.

Marty Bracco  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 4:42 PM

Perhaps the article misspoke, but if these two buildings were indeed "condos", then by definition Fenwick would have had to buy out each individual owner at market price. That said, I'm fairly certain the two buildings are in fact traditional apartments which Fenwick has owned for a number of years with this exact purpose in mind, so anyone choosing to rent there would understand that this possibility existed. BTW, Oak Park also suffers from a woeful shortage of open space for a community of our population, and while the courtyard is primarily for the school's use, the reality is that the neighbors will take advantage of it also.

Laura Young  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 3:54 PM

It's unfortunate that in a place where affordable housing is at a minimum, the school would choose to displace multiple families under the guise of a necessary expansion. Where will these people go?

Deirdre Byrne  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 3:06 PM

These buildings are not vacant. They each contain 6-8 units, 1500 square feet each with 3-4 bedrooms, inhabited by a majority of single parents with kids. All families will be displaced in June so Fenwick can have its "green space." Way to go Fenwick, and Oak Park. Perfect, actually, considering the shortage of affordable housing, particularly rental properties for families in Oak Park. A courtyard certainly is a priority for the wealthy.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 1:50 PM

Are these condo buildings vacant? Will Fenwick pay the village for the alley?

Marty Bracco from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 12:02 AM

Great work by Fenwick (my alma mater) in creating a plan that enhances it's campus, and the greater Madison Street corridor. Hopefully the addition of the parking garage will alleviate some of the parking pressure in the area. The green space is a great addition to the street and yes, it should be modeled by anyone looking to develop along Madison. Fenwick is a unique civic asset, and project will enhance the school and it's surroundings.

Megan Beard - Ziech  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 11:42 PM

Go Flyers . . . .

John Lattyak  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 6:29 PM

Kudos to Fenwick for including green space on Madison in their development plan. Their plan should be used as a model for future developments on Madison. Any new development along Madison should include building setbacks with plazas and green space fronting Madison.

Charles Doherty  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 5:27 PM

Fenwick High School is a complete treasure in our area. This expansion plan not only makes the broader campus more attractive, it enhances learning opportunities for the next generation(s) of students.

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