LOGAN SQUARE — Darwin Elementary School in Logan Square is set to get nearly $15 million for much-needed building repairs after city officials approved much of the funding for the renovations.
City Council approved last week Allocating just over $10.1 million in tax increment funding to the Darwin Elementary Improvement Project, which will make large-scale improvements to the public school located at 3116 W. Belden Ave.
Chicago Public Schools plans to cover the rest of the project — $4.8 million — through its 2023 capital budget, district spokeswoman Mary Ann Fergus said.
With TIF funding secured, CPS officials are in the design phase and expect construction to begin next year, Fergus said. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2024, she said.
The rehabilitation project will span the Darwin campus, which includes the school’s main building dating from 1899, and its modular addition, built around 45 years ago as a temporary solution to overcrowding at the school, said Darwin’s principal, Daniel De Los Reyes.
Both buildings are deteriorating and in urgent need of rehabilitation, De Los Reyes said. The school constantly suffers from water leaks, a problem that stems from problems with old structures, he said.
“The original modular building roof design didn’t allow water to drain … so if it rained on Saturday, Thursday, you would see puddles,” De Los Reyes said.
The school’s old windows and exterior are also of concern, De Los Reyes said. Some repairs were made to the main building’s original copper cornice several years ago, but the work is still “pending”, posing security concerns, he said.
Both buildings in Darwin will have new roofs, windows and a new plumbing system, according to the order requesting funding from the District of Milwaukee/Fullerton TIF. The main building will also receive masonry repairs.
Darwin was last renovated in 2019, Fergus said.
“CPS strives to ensure students have access to safe, high-quality facilities,” Fergus said in an emailed statement. “The CPS Capital Planning and Construction Office aims to achieve an optimal level of physical fitness for each school through renovations and to support learning through instructional improvements, innovative design and construction techniques. .”
Aldus. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who represents the area that includes Darwin Elementary, applauded the TIF allowance in a recent ballot to voters.
“These repairs are badly needed, and I am so happy that the Darwin community is finally getting the infrastructure needed to maintain and improve the school,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
De Los Reyes said the improvements will make Darwin safer for teachers, staff and students.
“A lot of renovations aren’t going to make the school look better, it’s the structural and foundational updates that will keep these buildings running for decades,” he said.
Listen to “It’s Alright: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: