Cristo Rey St. Martin to move into vacant Kmart building in Waukegan

 
By Mary Beth Sammons
Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep communications manager
Posted9/26/2016 9:26 AM
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  • Community and school leaders and supporters gathered in the parking lot of a former Kmart in Waukegan recently to visit the future home of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep.

    Community and school leaders and supporters gathered in the parking lot of a former Kmart in Waukegan recently to visit the future home of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. Courtesy of Cristo Rey St. Martin

Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep unveiled plans Sept. 19, to renovate and move to the vacant, former Kmart building in Waukegan in early 2018.

Phase One of the renovation plan calls for an initial $17 million renovation to include transforming the facility for use as a modern educational campus.

"This is a milestone occasion for us as we formally embark on our Cornerstone Campaign," said Preston Kendall, president of Cristo Rey St. Martin. "Five years ago almost to the date, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep embarked on a bold and daring plan to grow enrollment from 240 to over 400. We knew that our current, leased location would never be able to accommodate the larger enrollment so part of our plan included identifying and acquiring a new home."

Kendall said the school has commitments for 75 percent of the funded needed for the first phase of the project and is in discussions with other donors.

About 50 community and school leaders and supporters gathered in the parking lot of the Kmart Monday. A banner was placed across the building: "Future Home of Cristo Rey St. Martin."

"We want to extend a wonderful welcome," said Waukegan Alderman Taylor. "You are not just educating students, you are building better people, faith-based people who are already giving back to the community."

Phase One includes: An initial build-out of half the building, roughly 50,000 square feet, to house 21 classrooms, a cafeteria, a library commons area, as well as administrative office space; three science labs to support the biology, chemistry and physics curriculum; and a 21st Century educational environment that supports the school's college preparatory focus of the curriculum.

Future phases are still in development but are expected to include additional classrooms and laboratory space, new areas for expanded programming such as fine arts and other electives, a chapel/prayer room, student fitness space, exterior green spaces and practice fields, and a more appealing facade to the exterior of the building.

Currently, Cristo Rey serves 400 students in leased space at the former St. Joseph Parish complex, a small two-acre property comprised of less than 30,000 square feet on the south side of Waukegan. Students travel outside, year-round, between five buildings throughout the school day to attend classes.