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updated: 5/7/2014 7:51 AM

Day care center planned for long vacant Arlington Heights site

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A new day care facility soon will open in Arlington Heights, filling a shopping center space that's been vacant since 2008.

The village board approved plans Monday for Kiddie Academy at 880 W. Dundee Road, in a shopping center near Kohl's and XSport Fitness. The 9,400-square-foot space previously housed a buffet restaurant but has been empty for more than six years, said Mike Palella, owner of the shopping center.

Palella said the site's size and design have made it difficult to lease.

Kiddie Academy, which has more than 120 other centers across the country, will have capacity for 141 children from 6 weeks to 12 years old. The interior will be redesigned into several different classrooms and a parking lot behind the shopping center will be transformed into a playground, Palella said.

Security will be tight at the new facility, with all entry at the front of the building and each parent being given a personalized code to get in, he added.

Ten parking spaces in front will be designated for parent pickup and drop-off, but trustees said they were concerned about people other than Kiddie Academy parents parking in the designated spots, something Palella admits he wouldn't really be able to enforce.

"If you set up those spaces where no one can park in them at anytime, but they sit empty all day, it creates an atmosphere where people are going to violate it," Trustee Jon Scaletta said.

Developers agreed to have those parking spots only be reserved for three hours in the morning and three hours afternoon, the busiest hours for pick up and drop off. Kiddie Academy will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

"Anytime we've got something like this in our community that has been empty a long time and we've got a viable candidate going in, I want to to see you be successful here," Trustee Jim Tinaglia said.

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