Elgin Commission Approves Plans to Add New Performing Arts Center to St. Edward High School – Chicago Tribune

The Elgin Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending that Elgin City Council approve plans to add a performing arts center to the campus of St. Edward Central Catholic Secondary School.

A 9,400 square foot addition has been proposed for 335 Locus St. School, funded by a $5 million donation from school alumni Geoff Fox and Robert Fox. When completed, it will be known as the Fox Family Performing Arts Center.

“It’s been a long time coming for the school,” said Steve Turckes, a representative of architectural firm Perkins and Will, at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting this week. “They have, for years and years since building their campus, been performing in the gymnasium.”

The physical characteristics and acoustics of the gymnasium space are inadequate for quality musical and theatrical performances, Elgin’s senior planner Damir Latinovic told the meeting. The new center will allow the high school to keep pace with the demands of modern education, he said.

Proposed for the southwest corner of the building, the addition will have its own entrance, lobby, 280 seating, change rooms, and mechanical and electrical support spaces, Latinovic said. The architecture of the structure blends well with the existing school, including a well-designed application of brickwork, cast stone and metal accents, he said.

A small stormwater retention facility will need to be built west of the addition to meet city requirements and act as a buffer for neighbors, he said.

St. Edward’s needs city approval for a map change with code deviations for street yard setback, transitional yard setback and transitional landscape yard, documents say from the city.

A neighbor submitted a letter of objection to the plan, saying the school never resolved existing parking or traffic issues, commission chairman Jay Cox said.

St. Edward’s principal Brian Tekampe said the school has tried to work with neighbors to address these issues and has asked students to move their cars when a neighbor raises an issue.

The new performing arts center is not expected to generate additional parking issues as it has less capacity than the gymnasium, school officials said. Additionally, St. Edward will not host sporting events concurrently with theater performances, Turckes said.

The proposal will be reviewed and voted on by the board at a future meeting.

Gloria Casas is a freelance journalist for The Courier-News.

William E. Bennett