“Rebuild Foundation, an arts and culture nonprofit founded by artist Theaster Gates, broke ground on a new arts incubator on the city’s South Side today.
“Rebuild has raised over $7.6 million from private investors and other organizations to begin the $10.35 million renovation of the former St. Laurence elementary school for the new 40,000-square-foot space. Rebuild bought the school in January 2016 after the site was slated for demolition.
“Those donating to the still-unnamed incubator include the city of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust, Clayco Foundation, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Kresge Foundation, Litowitz Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Mellon Foundation and Miami Foundation.
“We have invested $1 million into the repair and the remediation of the building,” said Sabina Bokhari, a representative with Rebuild Foundation. She said they’ve raised an additional $6.6 million for the renovation. “With it being an older building that has sat vacant for many years, there are structural challenges that we need to remediate to ensure that the space is safe.”
“The site will include artist studios, classrooms for creative entrepreneurship courses and co-working floors.
“We’ve toured the St. Laurence School, and it’s obviously an amazing space; it would been a real shame to see it demolished,” said Shawn Clark, president of real estate and development firm CRG, which donated $1 million to the arts incubator.
“The arts incubator is slated to be completed in 18 months, with programming to start as early as fall 2023.” (Jay, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/3/22)
Preservation Chicago applauds Theaster Gates and Rebuild Foundation for moving forward with this exciting adaptive reuse of the St. Laurence School. We had initially made contact with Theaster and Rebuild Foundation in 2011 regarding the potential adaptive reuse of the entire St. Laurence campus including the church building, convent, rectory and school. Unfortunately, the other buildings were demolished, but the St. Laurence School survived until Rebuild Foundation was able to purchase it in 2016 with plans for an eventual adaptive reuse.
Theaster Gates’ arts incubator breaks ground in Grand Crossing, The 40,000-square-foot incubator, located in the former St. Laurence elementary school, has some big-name backers, Corli Jay, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/3/22