District 15 in 'holding pattern' on plans for new school at Palatine shopping center
Palatine Township Elementary School District 15 board members say they need more time before deciding on a proposal to create a new school in a vacant section of the Park Place shopping center at Rand and Dundee roads in Palatine.
Board members last week voted to seek another 90 days for a due diligence period that had been set to expire Jan. 15. Park Place's owner must agree to the request.
The board also agreed that they won't spend any money on an artist's rendering or other aspects of the project until it's known whether a 21st school is needed for the district.
"I don't feel it's prudent to spend funds on something we're not sure with yet," board member Michael Smolka said.
Under a tentative deal unveiled last year, a shuttered Whole Foods Market and other adjacent space totaling about 80,000 square feet would be renovated to create up to 32 classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grade. The school would serve the district's northeast section.
Park Place's owner would build four retail buildings on the land closest to Rand as part of the school proposal, Palatine officials said. The former T.J. Maxx/Home Goods portion of the plaza would be demolished to make room for the new retail section along with a playground and sports fields for the school.
Stuckey Construction Company Inc. of Waukegan would buy the space for about $4.1 million and spend another $13.8 million renovating it, district officials said. District 15 would lease the building with an option to buy it within seven years, if the proposal receives school board approval.
District 15 Superintendent Laurie Heinz said Park Place is not the only option for a new school in the district's northeast section. An offer of a stand-alone commercial building east of Route 53 in Arlington Heights has emerged.
"But again, we've kind of been in a holding pattern on that," Heinz said. "We've had a meeting to listen to the pitch. Until we're certain that we would need that 21st school, as part of the overall true fix to some of our boundary and capacity issues, we've kind of held that group off as well because we're just not in a place where we know for sure."
Potential funding sources also would need to be addressed if the 21st school is pursued, she added.
About 22% of the district's roughly 12,000 students live in the northeast section but don't have a neighborhood school, officials said. District 15 encompasses all or parts of Palatine, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington and Schaumburg.