District 15 floats second plan to use chunk of a Palatine mall for school
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 is taking a second look at renovating empty mall space for a new school near Rand and Dundee roads in the village.
Under the revised proposal, a shuttered Whole Foods Market and other adjacent space roughly totaling 80,000 square feet would be renovated for a maximum of 32 classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grade, costing an estimated $13.8 million. The school would be in the Park Place shopping center opposite a Walmart, southeast of Dundee and Rand.
In addition, Park Place's owner would build four retail buildings closest to Rand as part of the school proposal, Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. The former T.J. Maxx/Home Goods portion of the plaza would be demolished to make room for the new retail section and a playground and sports fields for the school.
"Get rid of 60,000 square feet and pick up maybe 20,000 or 30,000 square feet of what is really leasable space, because I think you are going to be a long time waiting for a user to take the old T.J. Maxx space," Ottesen said Friday.
In November, District 15 dropped the initial plan to renovate about 80,000 square feet in another section of Park Place for an all-day kindergarten program and early childhood center. District 15's proposal never made it past a hearing before the advisory Palatine plan commission.
Under the new plan, the District 15 facility would serve the northeast boundary where about 22 percent of the students reside but don't have a neighborhood school, Superintendent Scott Thompson said.
"We are excited about the possibility of a community school being up there," Thompson said at a recent meeting.
District 15 has a preliminary real estate contract for a lease-to-own option, spokeswoman Morgan Delack said. She said the contract would be transferred for a construction company handling the project to buy the space for $4.1 million -- and, as owner, lease it to the district.
More details, including projections on long-term operating costs, annual lease expenses and length, are to be presented at a District 15 school board meeting May 8, Delack said. If the board decides to not proceed with the proposal, it can vote to withdraw the tentative contract without taking a financial hit.
Along with 30 to 32 classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grade, the plan calls for a gymnasium, cafeteria, restrooms and a main office area with a room for a school nurse. District 15 would use the vacant Whole Foods and the adjacent space to the north up to the Goodwill Store & Donation Center in Park Place.
Village officials had concerns about school bus traffic flow and the loss of potential retail occupants in the original District 15 plan.
Should the new plan gain District 15 board approval, the school at the "very earliest" could open for the 2020-21 academic season, Delack said. She said an opening date likely would depend on possible boundary changes incorporating the school.