1741-1749 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown, where Kensington School plans to construct a daycare center Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago

BUCKTOWN — A local daycare company got City Council approval Wednesday to build a three-story facility just south of the 606 trail on Damen Avenue.

Kensington School plans 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. Another is a now-closed auto shop.

City Council members approved a zoning change for the properties, which were previously 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.

But today, much of the surrounding area in Bucktown is home to a mix of commercial and residential uses.

“We are simply here … to bring the use into compliance with the current zoning ordinance and make it more compatible with the other uses along this stretch of Damen Avenue,” zoning attorney Sara Barnes said at a Zoning Committee hearing Tuesday.

The proposal was approved by members of the Wicker Park Committee and Bucktown Community Organization earlier this year.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) also said Tuesday he supported the project.

“We’re taking out some old buildings here, that was an old repair shop, pretty defunct, and putting in a well-needed daycare there. So the building was well received by the community,” he said.

Kensington School operates 14 locations across the Chicago suburbs, serving infants to kindergarteners, according to its website. The Bucktown location will serve children ages six weeks to 5 years old, Barnes said.

Plans show the facility will include a drop-off area in front of the building on Damen and five parking spots and two drop-off spots in the rear. The center would also include a playground on the roof, CEO Charles Marlas told the Wicker Park Committee in April.

“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.”

Rendering of a proposed daycare center at 1741-1749 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown
Plans for a proposed daycare center at 1741-1749 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown

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