From publishing house to classrooms: U-46 pursues property for new elementary school

The more than nine acres that currently make up the David C. Cook Publishing House in Elgin could soon be home to Elgin Area School District U-46’s newest elementary school.

U-46 school board members on Monday backed an agreement to buy the property, totaling 9.16 acres at 850 N. Grove Ave., for $2.4 million.

The land is four blocks west of McKinley Elementary School in Elgin, one of the district’s oldest schools.

Constructed in 1887, McKinley Elementary sits on 2.4 acres, making reconstruction or expansion at its current site difficult, district officials said. Acquiring the publishing house property would allow the district to build a “state of the art” school to replace McKinley.

“This is a unique property that meets our acreage requirements,” U-46 Chief of Staff Brian Lindholm said of the publishing house property. He noted the land had recently become available at a “competitive price.”

Lindholm said the district recognizes the “historical and architectural” significance of the publishing house property, which Elgin City Council members once sought to landmark. He said the district would work with the Northeast Neighborhood Association in Elgin “to understand their perspective” of the property and keep them abreast of the district’s plans.

A new elementary school to replace McKinley could be ready for students as early as the 2027-2028 school year, Lindholm said.

The new school is part of $380 million in building projects and improvements envisioned for the district over the coming years. Last year, voters approved borrowing $179 million to help make those building projects a reality.

School board members on Monday also approved seeking bids to sell the former Woodland Heights Middle School building at 900 S. Park Blvd. in Streamwood. The school, built in 1958, was last used by the district during the 2011-2012 school year. After its closure, the district leased the building to Parkland Preparatory Academy. However, Lindholm said the building has sat vacant for several years.

Lindholm said the district recently was approached by a developer wishing to use the former elementary school as a private therapeutic day school. State law requires the district to advertise any property it will sell and seek bids for the sale. Board members set the minimum price for the property at $1.2 million. Final bids are due to the district on May 13.

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