A school district in a Chicago suburb is pursuing a plan to create an elementary school in a vacant section of a shopping mall.
The Daily Herald reports that Palatine Township Elementary District 15 is looking at leasing 80,000 square feet in Palatine that formerly housed a Whole Foods Market and other retail space and converting it to a school with 32 classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grade.
Superintendent Scott Thompson gave a presentation to the school board with financial details. Under the proposal, Stuckey Construction Co. Inc. of Waukegan, Ill., would buy the space in the Park Place shopping center for about $4.1 million and spend another $13.8 million renovating it. District 15 would then lease the building with an option to buy it within seven years, Thompson says.
As part of the plan, Park Place's owner would build four retail buildings on the site. The former T.J. Maxx/Home Goods portion of the shopping plaza would be demolished to make room for the new retail section and a playground and sports fields for the school.
District 15's school at the mall would serve 750 to 800 children that live in an area without a neighborhood school. Thompson projects the new school would have 74 percent Hispanic students and an overall low-income population of 70 percent.
Some residents have raised questions about the proposal. James Taylor says the proposed location "feels careless and reckless" and would place students in jeopardy by being too close to the two thoroughfares and retail establishments.
In November, District 15 dropped a plan to renovate about 80,000 square feet in another section of Park Place for an all-day kindergarten program and early childhood center.