Day care center with pool, outdoor play area proposed for Naperville's Mall of India

  • A day care and after-hours activity center is proposed as an anchor tenant in Naperville's Mall of India at 776 S. Route 59.

    A day care and after-hours activity center is proposed as an anchor tenant in Naperville's Mall of India at 776 S. Route 59. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/21/2021 10:35 PM

A day care and after-hours activity center could be incorporated into the ongoing redevelopment of a shuttered Walmart in Naperville.

The operation is proposed as an anchor tenant in the new Mall of India at 776 S. Route 59, taking over about 19,000 square feet of the former big-box store with 10 classrooms, studio space and an indoor pool, according to development plans.


A fenced-in outdoor play area along the east side of the building would feature a tricycle track, playground equipment, a sand pit, a splash pad and other interactive amenities, project architect Shilpa Purohit said during a public hearing Thursday. That space would be used only during day care hours -- 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays -- so as not to disturb neighboring residences, she said.

On limited weekends and weekday evenings, plans show the indoor pool and studio space would be open to the public as a drop-in activity center.

"We hope that by putting in this day care, we can bring some more life to this building," said Purohit, of Schaumburg-based Purohit Architects.

The planning and zoning commission unanimously supported allowing the day care and activity center as a conditional use within the property's community shopping center zoning district. The proposal now goes to the city council for final consideration.

Poised to accommodate about 125 children from 8 weeks to 5 years old, the day care would join a blend of businesses within the Mall of India, including a food court, a grocery store and other retailers. Additional shops and services are being added over time, Purohit said, and a proposal is underway to create a section of business suites.

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The 116,000-square-foot building had been vacant from the time Walmart moved out in 2014 until the mall opened last year, city staff members said in a memo.

Under the same ownership, the former Sam's Club next door is also slated for redevelopment, with plans calling for a performing arts academy, sports complex, banquet facility and theater. Those event and entertainment components are intended to complement the Mall of India, providing a one-stop shop for customers and generating activity for other area businesses, project leaders said.

The day care and activity center would add to that vision by providing a "convenient service to customers visiting other locations" within the two developments, said Amy Emery, operations manager for the city's transportation, engineering and development department.

Commission Chairman Bruce Hanson said he's pleased with the progress.

"We're super happy about the repurposing of these two buildings, and it's exciting to see this new anchor tenant coming in," he said. "I couldn't be happier."

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