BUCKTOWN — A day care company with locations across the Chicago area wants to build a three-story, nearly 25,000-square-foot building just south of The 606 in Bucktown.
Kensington School hopes to build its newest center at 1741-1749 N. Damen Ave., replacing four buildings that house a realty office and a candle store. One of the buildings is the former home of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, which closed in 2020.
The company is trying to get a zoning change for the properties, which are currently approved for manufacturing. Under the city’s updated air quality ordinance approved last year, day cares can no longer build in manufacturing districts due to pollution concerns.
“Obviously, that’s not the case here on Damen Avenue where you have mostly commercial and business uses and a lot of residential, but it just so happens that we still fall under that zoning. So, that is why we are here, and do require the zoning change,” zoning attorney Sara Barnes told the Wicker Park Committee on Wednesday.
The company is under contract to purchase the properties on Damen, Barnes said.
Kensington School operates 12 locations across the Chicago suburbs, serving infants to kindergarteners, according to its website.
The Bucktown location would include a drop-off area in front of the building on Damen and five parking spots and two drop-off spots in the rear, according to plans Barnes shared last week. The center would include a playground on the roof, CEO Charles Marlas said at the meeting.
“We’ve been trying to find a good location in the Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhood for many, many years,” Marlas said. “We’re really excited to be coming to this spot. It’s a really great family neighborhood. Damen is a wonderful location for this.”
The company is constructing a similar building in Lincoln Park, Marlas said.
Marlas said he expects the traffic impact of the school to be minimal, with many families and staff members arriving via foot or public transportation.
“We really feel pretty comfortable after having seen other child care centers of this size operate quite comfortably in the city. We don’t think we’re doing anything that’s out of the ordinary from a traffic or size or neighborhood parking and traffic impact perspective,” he said.
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