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Roycemore School, a K-12 private school, plans to move from 640 Lincoln St. to a larger site at 1200 Davis St., the former headquarters of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church. Roycemore has entered into an agreement to buy the building at 1200 Davis, representatives of Roycemore said in a prepared statement.
Roycemore School was built in 1915 on land owned by Northwestern University. Roycemore leased the land from NU under a 99-year lease, which expires in 2014. NU administrators notified Roycemore several years ago that NU did not intend to renew the lease.
Roycemore plans to preserve the nature of the pension board’s former headquarters, while creating classrooms, state-of-the-art science and computer labs and new performing arts space, Roycemore’s representatives said. The school is working with Stephen Yas of Yas Architecture and Podolsky Northstar CORFAC International Real Estate.
The additional space will allow Roycemore to expand modestly its enrollment of 250 students while maintaining small class sizes. “Roycemore will now be able to offer its individualized education to more students while maintaining its hallmark of small classes,” said Tom Ellis, chair of Roycemore’s board of trustees. A recent survey cited Roycemore’s average of 9.7 students per class as the lowest among private schools in the Chicago area.
Joseph Becker, headmaster of Roycemore, told the RoundTable the purchase agreement is subject to Roycemore’s obtaining zoning relief that would permit a school at 1200 Davis St., which is zoned O1 and permits offices, hotels and government institutions as well as other uses. “One of the first steps is to engage City officials in that conversation,” Mr. Becker said.
Mr. Becker added, “We are proud of the fact we have been a good neighbor at our current location and would anticipate being so at the new location. We are hopeful we can work through that [the zoning process] in a very positive way.”
“We want to be respectful of the neighbors,” Mr. Ellis told the RoundTable. “Before we come to a final plan, we want their input.
“Use of the site for a school serves as a good supplement to the downtown plan and acts a buffer for the neighbors,” he added. “I think this is positive for the community.”
Roycemore was originally founded as a school for girls and became coeducational in 1962. The school serves students from throughout the Chicago area with diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, Roycemore’s representatives said.