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City Colleges To Close Lakeview Learning Center, Hoping For $5M Sale

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 7, 2016 3:07PM

Lakeview Learning Center / City Colleges of Chicago / Facebook

While development booms throughout Wrigleyville and Lakeview, students and teachers at one of the area’s longtime educational institutions, Lakeview Learning Center, are preparing for a major loss.

Students and personnel at the adult-education facility were recently notified that the City Colleges of Chicago will shutter the center in May 2017. Massive redevelopment in the area has contributed to skyrocketing rents and property price; and the City Colleges appears poised to capitalize, expecting to generate “between two and five million dollars for the sale,” according to a Q&A sent to teachers.

The property is also located within a transit-oriented development zone, according to Alderman Tom Tunney’s office. Lucrative TODs have become hot commodities in the area: one was proposed immediately adjacent to the Belmont CTA stop in July, and the Target Express TOD replaced longtime punk outpost The Alley.

At the same time, the move for revenue will carry its own cost, some students say. “I’m 21 and from Mexico. I’ve been studying here for two and a half years. This school changed my life. It’s a gift. You can’t put a price on this gift,” student Óscar Piña Morales said in a release. Classes after the fall semester next year will be moved to Truman College.

The Center’s roots trace to 1972, when it was known as Universidad Popular, a groundbreaking educational program that predates a relationship with CCC, and offered multi-level English instruction, along with assistance in immigration law, local politics and tenants rights for its largely Latino student body.

When asked for comment, a City Colleges spokesperson said in a statement that the proposed sale will “generate new efficiencies” that will be put back into “student programming” throughout various campuses, but did not elaborate how those reinvestments would be allocated.

Ald. Tunney (44th Ward) said in a statement that “while we will miss these classes,” we “understand they will still be offered at Truman’s main campus just to the north as well as other sites in the CCC system, where students will have access to upgraded facilities and student support services.”

CCC told teachers in the closure notification that the shutdown and sale makes sense in light of the state budget crisis, “which cut City Colleges’ state funding by 75 percent last year.” But the educators’ union argues that City Colleges is financially healthy, with $859 million in reported assets.

The union also claims the Center was gifted to City Colleges on the condition that it must be used as an educational outlet. Bennett Lawson, Chief of Staff for Ald. Tunney, told Chicagoist that he had no knowledge of such a stipulation.