Even after a 1993 renovation, the Skokie Park District long ago outgrew its 1956 Park Services Center on Skokie Boulevard. Now, after having searched for a suitable replacement for many years, the district has finally found a property that will serve the district well into its future.
With the purchase of the building at 7500 Frontage Rd., formerly Command Transportation Logistics, the district is now planning to renovate the property, in order to make it suitable for vehicles, equipment, storage, maintenance, staff offices and the district's new IT headquarters.
"We expect to begin renovation this fall," said Mike Rea, superintendent of parks, "with a completion date in spring of 2018."
The district purchased the property last December for $3.4 million and will offset some of those costs with the pending sale of the existing service center to its next door neighbor Sherman Dodge, for an already agreed-upon $3 million.
The park district board approved a Williams Architects design at its April meeting. (See diagram draft link below.)
"Our staff, hired consultants and architects have been meeting for weeks to design a facility that will function well within our $2.8 million renovation budget and the constraints of code requirements," said Rea. "The new facility also includes plenty of space for future growth."
The new service center –– formerly full of communications equipment –– will be renovated to house district vehicles, trades shops –– including a carpentry and sign shop, a mechanic's bay and lift, repair space, meeting rooms and staff offices, and a new district Information Technology center, which will move from the Weber Leisure Center. The current 12,400 square-foot service center sits on a small, landlocked property at the end of a dead end street. The new property has better access for large vehicles, more surrounding land for vehicle, large equipment and materials storage, as well as a 30,450 square-foot building, more than doubling the size of the district's space for the services it provides for the park district.
Proposed property design
The park services division maintains the amenities within 44 Skokie parks, including ball diamonds; playgrounds; basketball, volleyball and tennis courts; a dog park; landscaped gardens; picnic areas; soccer fields; two golf facilities; parking lots; shelters and restrooms; and a boat launch.
Park services also helps maintain the Skatium Ice Arena, the Weber Leisure Center (including the Fitness First health club and a gymnasium), two outdoor aquatic facilities, a community center, a cultural center for the arts, an outdoor nature center with an interpretive center, the Skokie Heritage Museum, two childcare/preschool centers, a community theater venue, The Exploritorium (a children's indoor play and learning space), and an indoor rowing center.