District 15 drops plan to use mall space for full-day kindergarten

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 has dropped a plan 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 representatives were scheduled to go before the advisory Palatine plan commission Tuesday night for a continued hearing on the proposal for the Park Place shopping center in Palatine. Last month, the plan commission expressed concern about the plan but delayed a vote on an ordinance amendment request.

But after a further review indicated escalating costs for the project, a tentative purchase agreement for 80,000 square feet of space was withdrawn this week, District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said Friday.

"A long-term analysis left board members and administration uncomfortable with the long-term financial picture of the district," Thompson said, "and as the period of due diligence was drawing to a close, the decision was made to withdraw."

District 15 would have occupied about 40 percent of Park Place, which borders a Walmart southeast of Rand and Dundee roads. Officials said it was expected to cost about $20 million to buy the space and renovate it for educational use.

Under the now-scrapped proposal, at least 600 students and about 80 employees were projected in the renovated mall space for the full-day kindergarten program and the early childhood center, There would have been 32 classrooms, offices, a kitchen, gymnasium and a roughly half-acre playground.

Thompson said district officials "have many ideas of ways to find the space that are currently being investigated." He said he could not immediately elaborate on the possibilities.

At last month's plan commission meeting, District 15 Environmental Services Manager Craig Phillips said it would cost $50 million to $60 million to build a 80,000-square-foot school.

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

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