Facebook is a great place for ideas.
The other day, I saw an interesting one for the vacant space at 2501 W. 103rd St., which was most recently Ridge Academy, an elementary school, and originally built as a Lutheran church. Someone posted that the Chicago Park District should buy it and make it a hub of sorts for Beverly Park, which is just north and has a modest field house.
Without knowing what kind of financial shape the park district is in, I liked the idea. And it got me to thinking of a few other ideas for the space, which provides one of the nicer views in Beverly in serving as a backdrop for Beverly Park.
Here are a few ideas I have. I’d like to stress that these are just ideas, and I don’t know how feasible they are.
I was only inside the building once, in February 2017, to interview some students and a teacher. Ridge Academy closed last year, and the building has been for sale since.
According to its listing, the building is about 14,000 square feet and has an arched ceiling, stained-glass windows and wooded beams. It also has classrooms, offices, a meeting hall and a pantry that was formerly a full kitchen. It is currently priced at $450,000 and zoned as RS2-religious/school use permitted, other special uses. It also has a parking lot that can hold about 38 cars.
Here are my ideas.
1. The Chicago Park District buys it and turns it into a cultural center, like the field house at Ridge Park.
Let’s start with the idea I saw on Facebook. The park district could use the space for arts and crafts classes for kids and adults, fitness classes and winter activities, providing something to do when it’s freezing out. There’s a stoplight and crosswalk at the corner leading to and from Beverly Park, so officials could safely intertwine indoor and outdoor activities.
2. The Beverly Area Arts Alliance purchases it.
The Alliance has become one of the area’s most active non-profits since being founded in 2014, and wouldn’t it be nice for it to have a visible home base? The Alliance hosts fairs and pop-up galleries year-round, and holding them in a place that hundreds of people drive or walk by every day would only add to the emerging local arts scene. The parking lot is also big enough for outdoor fairs.
3. The Beverly Review buys it.
Working at 10546 S. Western Ave., makes it easy to keep an eye on anything going on in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t mind the view from the top floor of the building, which I visited during my time Ridge Academy a couple years ago. The view from the ground, across the park and toward the building, is nice and so is the view from a few stories up, looking across the park and toward the new Evergreen Plaza. It’d be sure to keep the creative juices flowing, and I’d still be in the heart of Beverly.
4. Another school occupies it.
This isn’t the most original idea, but if the space was a school before, maybe it could work again. As I’ve said, there are classrooms, offices, plenty of parking and it’s easy to walk to.
5. Open a brewery there.
Another not so original idea, but how about another local brewery? It’s on the west side of Western, so obtaining a liquor permit would be easier, and again, parking is favorable.
It’s a big building, so it has plenty of space for huge brewtanks in their own room, and owners could utilize the second floor to give people a view while they enjoy their craft beers. The building also has a chique look that brewery customers love.
Again, these are just ideas. I understand roadblocks could pop up for permits and licenses.
If you have another idea for the space, email me at email@example.com or call (773) 238-3366. You can also visit me at The Beverly Reviews offices on Western Avenue—until idea #3 becomes reality.