Just as this www.neweastside.org website has done since 1999, we will collect all the information pertaining to a community issue, so that our New Eastside residents will be able to make an informed decision to support, work to modify, or oppose issues that affect the quality of life for our families and residents in our chosen home community.  The recent proposal for a private GEMS international academy could add a very important opportunity for our community, or it could create a problem justifying to the Chicago Public School system that we still need an affordable public elementary school, as required since 1969 within our Planned Development #70. Our community also wants to insure that the Pedway is extended east of the Coast through GEMS Phase II, and eventually to the Regatta and Chandler....and later the Park Shore and Lancaster.

As we accumulate information prior to the jointly hosted community meeting (Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 5:30PM, Radisson AQUA) by Alderman Reilly and NEAR, we will post articles that contain opinions we may not agree with...and/or may not be completely accurate - however, they all contribute to our knowledge-base.  They will be listed in a suggested reading order and not by date, and may contain a brief description of what you will learn:

http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2012/07/finally-school-for-lakeshore-east-cps.html This blog by Lynn Becker dated July 12, 2012 - includes some background information on the company behind the private school.  It also has some good information on the timeline and the features within the two separate buildings.
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GEMS APPLICATION (includes application and scanned lower quality - same pictures and graphics)
From: Alderman Reilly Reports .........July 9, 2012
Upcoming Community Presentation for GEMS School at 350 E. South Water Street

Dear Neighbor:

I am writing to invite you to join me at a public presentation for the GEMS School development proposal, located at 350 E. South Water Street. Per my direction, representatives of GEMS Chicago, Inc. will present their plans and answer any questions you may have about this proposal. My office will be present at this meeting to monitor the discussion, take notes and record your feedback.

The applicant has submitted a proposal for the development of Sub-Area E of Residential Business Planned Development #70 to allow for two private school buildings. Phase I of the project is proposed as a 153 foot tall, 9-story building containing 82,000 square feet for grades Kindergarten through 4th Grade. Phase II of the project is proposed as a 240 foot tall, 13-story structure containing 320,000 square feet for grades 5-12 and 105 parking stalls.

WHAT:             350 E. South Water Street, GEMS School Project

WHO:               Hosted by the New Eastside Association of Residents
                      (NEAR) and Alderman Reilly

WHEN:             Wednesday, July 25th at 5:30 P.M.

WHERE:            Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago Hotel
                       221 N. Columbus Drive
As you know, I work hard to provide an open and transparent community review of all local development proposals.  I hope you can join NEAR and me to engage in a direct dialogue with the development team to gain a better understanding of this proposal and receive answers to any questions you may have.

In the meantime, if I can be of assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact my office at 312-642-4242 or visit my Virtual Office website at www.ward42chicago.com. For more information on this project, you may also click on the following links to view the Lakefront Application and Figures.


Brendan Reilly
Alderman, 42nd Ward

You will learn the misunderstanding of several news reports: "A school has long been planned for the site where GEMS is planning to build the school, on the northwest corner of Lakeshore East Park, at 350 E. South Water St. and 355 E. Wacker Drive. But while it was originally intended to be a public school, Chicago Public Schools officials decided in 2002 they weren’t interested."
Actually in 2002, CPS had not determined the priority of the need for more school space, and also had no money to finish a New Eastside elementary school (same as in 2012).  In July, 2012, both Alderman Reilly's spokesperson AND the GEMS legal counsel responded to a NEAR direct question - that the GEMS school would not eliminate the requirement for a public elementary school "structure", as has been required in all Amendments to Planned Development #70 since 1969.


This was the NEAR announcement of the July 25, 2012 meeting to the 1108 persons on the New Eastside email list:

from: Richard Ward neweastside@gmail.com
to:     NewEastside@googlegroups.com
date: Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 9:55 PM
subject:   Ald. Reilly/NEAR meeting, Wed. July 25th, 5:30pm, at AQUA regarding PRIVATE GEMS SCHOOL

  Please mark your calendars for Wednesday, July 25th for a meeting at  Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel 221 N. Columbus Drive arranged by Alderman Reilly and co-hosted by NEAR (New Eastside Association of Residents).  The subject of this important meeting  will be the proposed GEMS private school.  Both Alderman Reilly's office and the GEMS representative have assured our New Eastside community that this proposed private school WILL NOT SATISFY THE REQUIREMENT FOR A CPS PUBLIC SCHOOL in  every Chicago City Council approved Planned Development #70 Amendment since 1969:  www.neweastside.org/school.html 


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  GEMS Phase I
   K-4   planned opening Sep, 2014
You may have to right-click on the box,  and then "open links in new window".
This is the Proposed GEMS Phase Two,  Grades 5th thru 12th - planned to open in September, 2015  -------------->
Upper Wacker Dr.
COAST - new rental building now under construction.
<---Chandler - Regatta - Lot D 
This is Lot C
Lot B
Building Lot A
The graphics of the Phase II school plans (available in the left box above) show an Internal turn-around Bus and Automobile School Drop-Off on Sub-Wacker (aka Lower Lower Wacker). 

This confusing designation is left over from extending Wacker from west of Michigan Avenue, where there is only Upper Wacker and Lower Wacker.  When our New Eastside Illinois Central property was developed, some of you may remember the sign at the bottom of the UP ramp, stating "TO LOWER WACKER".

Adding to the confusion is the intersection of Lower Columbus and Lower Lower Wacker (which was the ground level of the old train yard and terminal).

Sometime when you cannot sleep at night, you can browse the 288 historic pictures we have assembled on this website starting on page http://www.neweastside.org/HISTORY.html

GEMS Education is a division of the Varkey Group, a privately owned company based in Dubai with interests mainly in education but also in healthcare and construction. GEMS stands for Global Education Management System, it is not the plural of GEM schools. Note that the Dubai Gem School is not part of the GEMS school network, despite the name (as far as we know - it's not in the list of schools on the GEMS school website). Some (or all?) GEMS Schools operate under the name Premier Schools International LLC (incorporated in 2006 in Dubai)?


GEMS World Academy in Al Barsha, Dubai, opened in September 2008. The school, on a 41 000 m² site, offers the International Baccalaureate Programme for 1200 pupils aged 3 to 16.
The new school is the latest in the GEMS network. GEMS is a Dubai-based company with a network of 85 schools in 9 countries, providing high quality 21st century education to about 100 000 pupils. GEMS World Academy was built at a cost of USD 1 791 per square metre.



We are humbled and honored to have former U.S. President Bill Clinton as the honorary Chair of the Varkey GEMS Foundation.


List of GEMS schools in the Middle East, Europe, and rest of the world

GEMS schools in Africa
See also GEMS schools in South Africa
Kenya - GEMS International School in Nairobi, Kenya planned by GEMS Education in association with MenaLink Holdings. It will offer a K-12 British/IB curriculum with capacity up to 2,000 students. Opening date not supplied (28 March 2011 press release).
Project cost about $40-$50 million. Opening date might be September 2012? Possibly up to another 10 schools in Kenya and other locations in Africa under consideration. Dino Varkey quoted by Arabian Business 29 March 2011 as saying "Africa, specifically East Africa, is of critical importance. ... We’ve always had huge ambition for South Africa so there are a number of initiatives that we are pursuing in South Africa, Uganda."

GEMS schools in China
GEMS World Academy (GWA) in Tianjin, China (GEMS World Academy Tianjin Eco City) - announced 19 October 2010, opening date scheduled for 2011, investment of $18m in a joint venture with Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd (SSTEC). Capacity 2,000 students from preschool to high school, International Baccalaureate (IB) program to be offered (IBPYP, IBMYP, IB Diploma?). School operator of GWA-Tianjin will be a subsidiary of GEMS Education Holdings (PREACH) Pte Ltd in Singapore (press release 19 October 2010).

GEMS schools in Jordan
Aqaba International School - Aqaba

GEMS schools in Kuwait
GEMS Kuwait International English School (KIES) - founded 1991, taken over by GEMS for September 2007
GEMS schools in Libya
International School, Tripoli (Tripoli International School) - Tripoli

GEMS schools in Qatar
Al Khor International School (British Stream) - Doha
Al Khor International School (Indian Stream) - Doha
Doha Modern Indian School - Doha
The Cambridge International School for Girls - Doha
The Cambridge School - Doha

GEMS schools in Great Britain / United Kingdom (UK)
Abbotsford Preparatory School - Manchester
Bolitho School - Cornwall
Brabyns Preparatory School - Stockport
Bury Lawn School - Milton Keynes
Clevelands Preparatory School - Bolton
Firwood Manor Preparatory School - Oldham
GEMS Hampshire School (London)
Kingswood College - Ormskirk
Lady Lane Park School - Bingley
Ladymede School - Aylesbury
Moor Allerton Preparatory School - Manchester
Sherborne House School - Chandlers Ford
Sherfield School - Sherfield-on-Loddon
St. Colette's Preparatory School - Cambridge
The Hampshire School - London
GEMS school expansion in UK - 02 February 2012
The Guardian (a UK based newspaper) reported that GEMS Education was planning to open 6 new private day schools in England for 3-18 year old children. Opening dates between 2012 and 2014. Locations not finalised. Fees expected to be from £8,000 - £12,000 (AED 46,000-70,000) per year.

GEMS schools in India
Bawa Lalvani Public School - Punjab
Cambridge International School - Batala
Cambridge International School - Dasuya
Cambridge International School - Hoshiarpur
Colonel Public School - Tohana
GEMS Global Academy - South City, Gurgaon
GEMS International School - Palam Vihar, Gurgaon
GEMS NPS International School - Guwahati, Assam
Genesis International School - Ahmedabad
Greater Valley School - Greater Noida
Gurukul International School - Nawalgarh
Kothari International School - Noida
Pailan World School - Kolkata
Parasrampuria GEMS International School - Jaipur
Starex International School - Greater Delhi
The Cambridge International School for Girls - Jalandhar
World Heritage School (Junior) - Tohana

GEMS schools in Saudi Arabia
The World Academy (TWA) in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), American/IB curriculum, grade K-8 in phase I (open September 2009?), to grade 12 in phase II (open 2012). Head of school Andrew Westerman (unconfirmed).
The Kingdom School in Riyadh (Kingdom Schools) - partnership announced 20 September 2010 for GEMS to manage the school.

GEMS schools in South Africa
GEMS are planning to open schools in South Africa according to a report in The National 23 July 2008

GEMS schools in USA/North America
Pemberton Valley (proposed, rumoured) / Ravens Crest - possible interest expressed by GEMS back in 2007 to establish a school there. Zoning approvals apparently delaying progress. Update 14 July 2011 in the publication Whistler Question said there was progress on zoning approval but not clear if GEMS Education or another school operator would build something on the site - the Pemberton mayor, Jordan Sturdy, reportedly said "It may be GEMS, but it may be others. ... There are a number of different organizations that have expressed interest in the site."

Last update Tuesday 12-Jun-2012

The Pedway has been required since 1969 to be located at the Concourse Level, connecting ALL the buildings in Planned Development #70.  This add-on to satisfy the Lakefront Protection Ordinance requirements needs at least two inconvenient elevator changes.
<----This ARRIVAL route around Lakeshore East Park was eliminated by Alderman Reilly at the public meeting on July 25, 2012.
<----This DEPARTURE route around Lakeshore East Park was eliminated by Alderman Reilly at the public meeting on July 25, 2012.
There is no reference to the original Pedway continuation from the Concourse Level of the Swissotel through the Coast Concourse Level.
At what level ?
Planned connection to Regatta appears to be at the correct Concourse Level.
This DEPARTURE route around Lakeshore East Park was eliminated by Alderman Reilly at the public meeting on July 25, 2012.