Elgin plans demolition at future charter school site
Three buildings will be demolished, likely next month, on the site of the former Fox River Country Day School in Elgin, as a new charter school prepares to take over the property.
The Elgin Math and Science Academy expects to open in August at 1600 Dundee Ave., catering to roughly 200 students in kindergarten to third grade. The Elgin City Council approved a lease agreement for most of the 19-acre property from April 1 through June 30, 2023, for $1 per year with an option to renew.
The lease requires the city to demolish two buildings, Allison Hall and Kilburn House; a third building, Cox Cottage, will be demolished on the city's portion of land, but the home of a police resident officer will remain untouched.
Six companies submitted bids from $98,500 to $344,000 for the work, a wide range that is not unusual for such projects, Building Maintenance Superintendent Rich Hoke said. The city council is expected to award a bid Oct. 25, and the contractor will finish the work in the spring with seed planting, Hoke said.
The city requested bid proposals last month, before the Illinois State Charter School Commission approved the charter school Oct. 2. That's because the three buildings had degraded so much, they needed to be demolished, whether the charter school came in or not, Hoke said.
The city will pay for the demolition with $43,500 budgeted in the Riverboat fund, along with some of the $400,000 in contingency money set aside in the same fund, city communications specialist Molly Center said.
No other expenses on the property are planned beyond routine maintenance and emergency repairs, Center said. The 2017 budget also included $200,000 for roof repairs on the property; city officials will decide how to reallocate that during 2018 budget discussions, Center said.
The charter school initially will be housed in the Neil building, which was built in 2005 and has remained in good shape since the previous school closed in 2011, Hoke said. Other buildings have suffered various damage, such as a leaking roof over the pool in the gymnasium building, he said.
The plan is -- as students grow -- to expand into the gymnasium building and then into the administration building, said Kerry Kelly, president of the Elgin Charter School Initiative.
Shales McNutt Construction last year estimated the Neil building needed repairs of up to $130,000, Kelly said.
During a site visit Monday, "the engineers were impressed with the excellent condition of the building and its systems. The next step will be to secure a general contractor which will bid on the repairs," she said.
The charter group will pursue financing from IFF, a nonprofit specializing in charter school financing that has already issued a letter of approval for a loan of up to $1.5 million, Kelly said. The charter group also is promised $950,000 in federal reimbursements for startup costs and was preapproved for a line of credit up to $200,000 from Triumph Bank in Elgin.
"This property is extraordinarily unique and beautiful, and combined with our EL Education model, will enrich the lives of EMSA students and families," Kelly said.
Mayor David Kaptain said it's good the property will be put to use.
"I've always said, 'We're just the landlord,'" he said. "I don't have an opinion one way or the other on the charter school, but any time we can provide options for education in the community, it's a good thing."