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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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St. John’s delays expansion proposal

HYDE PARK - St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School leaders this summer will re-examine expansion plans that have not been popular with many of the campus’ neighbors. The proposal was scheduled to go before the city’s Architectural Review Commission on Monday, but the school wants to delay its rezoning application and the commission’s consideration. The school also has withdrawn an application to move a historic house next door, at 918 S. Orleans Ave., to accommodate the expansion plan. Lee Lowry, the school’s communications director, said St. John’s officials have met with Hyde Park residents in recent months to discuss the neighbors’ concerns, but haven’t had much success in reaching a compromise. “There’s still resistance, and we really wanted to take a step back and re-evaluate the plans and build our relationship with our community here,” she said.
School leaders will re-evaluate the proposal this summer, and hope to present a new one in the fall, Lowry said. The original plan called for demolition of a 1911 house at 909 S. Orleans Ave., across the street from the campus. The house next door to the school, built in 1940, then could be moved to that lot, making room for a two-story expansion of the campus’ main building that would stretch to an alleyway abutting the backyards of some Bayshore Boulevard homes. St. John’s owns the 1911 and 1940 houses. The school wants more space for art and science classrooms, Lowry said. School officials have said they do not plan to increase the school’s enrollment with the expansion. Neighbors have protested the expansion since February, maintaining it would create additional traffic, lower surrounding property values and be incompatible with the architecture of the historic neighborhood. Many residents have posted yellow signs in their yards that proclaim: “Save Historic Hyde Park.” “I just hope they incorporate the neighbors’ concerns into their new plan,” said Rudy Fernandez, a neighbor and school alumnus who also sent his children to the school. Lowry said the school still wants to explore adding more space to the campus, but the summer will give school leaders a chance to determine the best way to do so. “We’re still committed to making the best of what we have and looking into what we could do in the future,” Lowry said.

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