Nov 21, 2023
Community Consolidated School District 21 on Saturday, Jan. 21, officially celebrated the opening of its new Community Service Center and Administrative Office at 959 W. Dundee Road in Wheeling.
Construction on the three-story, 39,700-square-foot facility began in December 2021 and wrapped over the winter break, with most district staff starting the transition from their old offices in the Gill Administration Center shortly after the new year.
“This is a game-changing moment for District 21 and the six communities we represent,” said CCSD21 Board of Education President Phil Pritzker.
The roughly $16 million project was funded through $5 million in the district’s fund balance and debt certificates to be paid back over 15 years with the district’s growing reserves, meaning no additional costs for taxpayers. The project also came in about $1 million under budget in the end.
Constructing the new building, rather than renovating the former offices at Gill, was due to a number of factors, according to Micheal DeBartolo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations.
Gill, he said, had very small workspaces, not a lot of space to do professional development and lacked sufficient space to have meetings of groups. Further, the building’s layout could be confusing at times, and it was “showing its age” with water issues and other problems.
“For the cost of the building … it just wasn’t an efficient space,” DeBartolo said. “When we knew we had an opportunity for this, we didn’t just want to build an admin building, we wanted a professional development space, [a space for] community meetings and partnerships, and even the first floor.”
The first floor has reserved 3,000 square feet for a health center that will provide physicals, immunizations and other services to students, their families, district staff and residents. OMNI Youth Services will also occupy some rooms, as will the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization, Hands on Suburban Chicago and YMCA.
The second floor contains administrative offices and several conference rooms.
The third floor consists of spaces for professional development training, a space for board of education meetings, and community spaces.
While Gill housed the entire administrative staff, the equity and learning side of the district, support services, directors, coordinators and their support teams did not move into the new building. Instead, they will relocate to the second floor of the Hawthorne Early Childhood Center over the summer.
The plan for Gill is to partially tear it down and turn it into either green space or an outdoor education space. “We haven’t fully massaged that plan because we don’t know how much space that will actually turn out to be,” DeBartolo said.
Once the equity and learning group makes the move to Hawthorne, the district plans to renovate the existing space that houses the tech staff – hopefully by the fall – with new carpeting, paint, lights and renovating one structure to make it a storage room for them. Once they move back into that space, the district will move everything out of the front half and tear it down “once we’re ready.”
The new Community Service Center and Administrative Office is one of four lots on the property, which will eventually include townhomes and commercial entities that DeBartolo notes may either be a strip mall or restaurants. There was even talk of a daycare at one point. The land was purchased for $2.1 million from Wingspan Development Group. However, the district only owns the lot on which the building resides.
As for the health center on the first floor, while the space remains empty, the district is hopeful to have all of its “request for proposal” responses received and discussed by the end of this week, with interviews soon to take place.
“We were dealt a little bit of a setback, because not a lot of models provide for taking insurance across the board,” DeBartolo said. “So it’s Medicaid only and then district subsidization, so we’re trying to figure out how to churn this so it doesn’t become too much of an expense to the district.”
Nicholas and Associates served as the construction manager for the new building, while Arcon Associates served as the architects. There were also more than 20 subcontractors.