As employees began moving out Monday, Chicago Public Schools confirmed it has found a buyer for its headquarters at 125 S. Clark Street in a $28 million deal expected to be approved by the Board of Education on Wednesday.
Tom Tyrrell, the district’s chief operating officer, said CPS reached an agreement with Blue Star Properties, which plans to keep offices and some retail spaces in the building. He was happy with the price, saying CPS estimated the building’s worth is about $18 million.
The deal is expected to be put to a vote after discussion during the board’s closed session, district spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.
Blue Star’s founder, Craig Golden, could not be reached for comment. The Chicago-based firm has renovated a number of large, old buildings and has invested in venues such as Thalia Hall in Pilsen.
CPS began soliciting bids in January for the 19-story building, for which it paid $8.3 million in 1998.
About 900 of CPS’ central office staffers are moving on Nov. 7 to the first three floors of 42 W. Madison, which was known as 1 N. Dearborn and formerly housed the Loop office of Sears. Tyrrell has said that central employees need less space now that there are fewer of them.
He projects savings of about $60 million over 15 years on costs such as energy and upkeep, savings that allowed for an added $5 million for new office furniture and $400,000 in moving costs.
About 300 more employees began moving Monday to a former elementary school building at 2651 W. Washington that used to house Dodge Elementary School. As part of a historic school closing process in June 2013, Dodge moved to 431 N. Troy Ave to share a building with Morton Elementary. Its former building since has been rehabbed down to its frame to the tune of $16 million. It now houses workers from the departments of Teaching and Learning, Diverse Learners and Family and Community Engagement, Tyrrell said.
Staffers from Diverse Learners, CPS’ special education department, designed and installed rooms for testing and evaluating young children, Tyrrell said. An activities room also was preserved for community use, as was the gymnasium for night and weekend league play, Tyrrell said.
The parking lot remains under construction for two more weeks; several employees complained to the Chicago Sun-Times that they didn’t feel safe in the neighborhood without secure parking.
The rest of the central workers will move on Dec. 5 to a former school building, 501 W. 35th St., where much of the district’s IT is housed.
CPS expects to vacate Clark Street by the end of December.