All-day kindergarten at the mall? District 15 wants to use 40% of Palatine center

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 wants to spend about $20 million to acquire and renovate vacant space at a mall for an all-day kindergarten program and early childhood center.

District 15 would occupy 80,000 square feet of the Park Place shopping center, which borders a Walmart southeast of Rand and Dundee roads in Palatine. But the district first needs the village to approve an ordinance amendment that would allow the educational facility to occupy about 40 percent of the mall.

As part of the formal approval process, District 15 officials appeared before the Palatine plan commission Tuesday night. Commissioners agreed to continue the public hearing on the proposal to Nov. 6, after directing the district to come up with a better way to handle student busing on the property.

Plan commission Chairman Dennis Dwyer said he's confident the traffic flow concerns can be addressed for what would be "a very desirable project."

"My feeling is that 14 buses exiting at approximately the same time would not have a lot of appeal to Walmart customers," Dwyer said.

District 15 Environmental Services Manager Craig Phillips said it would cost $50 million to $60 million to build a new 80,000-square-foot school. While there is concern about the loss of potential tax revenue at Park Place with the district there, it would be offset by the less expensive $20 million price for the renovated space, he said.

"We've looked in many areas along the northern region of Palatine trying to find a suitable site for an educational center," Phillips said.

At least 600 students and about 80 employees would be in the renovated mall space for a full-day kindergarten program and the early childhood center, District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said.

There would be 32 classrooms, offices, a kitchen, gymnasium and a roughly half-acre playground.

The project would be funded through district reserves, officials say.

Phillips said the design would include movable glass partitions serving as classroom walls as well as skylights.

District 15 has about 12,800 students and covers all or part of Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg.

Thompson said about 22 percent of the students live on Palatine's northeast side where Park Place is.

Park Place, where a Whole Foods previously operated, has a Goodwill Store and Donation Center, Lakeshore Learning Store, Subway, Wingstop and T-Mobile in the shadows of the Walmart.

Plan commission members eventually will forward a recommendation on District 15's proposal to the Palatine village council, which gets the final say.

  Palatine Township Elementary District 15 is seeking village approval for an 80,000-square-foot facility in the Park Place mall in Palatine to host a full-day kindergarten and early childhood programs. Bob Susnjara/
  This is the Park Place shopping center southeast of Rand and Dundee roads in Palatine. Bob Susnjara/
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