Winnetka, News

NSCD’s Mac Gym overhaul scores Village of Winnetka support

North Shore Country Day School officials say it is time to update the school’s gymnasium, and the Village of Winnetka is clearing the way.

The Winnetka Village Council on Monday, April 3, gave preliminary approval for the private school to embark on a large-scale upgrade of its athletic facilities, including a renovation of and addition to historic Mac Gym.

North Shore Country Day’s project needed zoning relief to the Village’s floor-area and building height zoning regulations; however, current measurements of the school’s athletic facilities (217,654 square feet and three stories) already surpassed the Village limits (144,191 and two and a half stories).

The entire project, which is broken into two phases, will cost between $19-$22 million and take about 10 months to complete, said Tom Flemma, NSCD Head of School during a presentation to NSCD families in January.

A rendering of the multipurpose fitness area designed for the first floor of the Raiders planned athletic facility.

North Shore Country Day’s Board of Trustees in 2019 included a new gymnasium in the campus master plan, and Flemma said Mac Gym is an outdated facility that is due for “millions of dollars” maintenance and an upgrade to meet modern needs.

“I think we can fix that in a way that stays true to the school’s mission and philosophy,” he said, “and in a way that is not extravagant or lavish, because we are not an extravagant or lavish place. But we do embrace change when we need it to happen.”

North Shore Country Day School, 310 Green Bay Road, is a junior kindergarten-12th grade private institution serving 547 students. It was founded in 1919, and the Mac Gym — dedicated in 1986 to longtime coach and educator Martin J. McCarty — was built in 1960.

The gym is located on the southeast corner of the school’s campus, directly south of the Music Institute of Chicago along Church Road.

An addition to and renovation of Mac Gym, both of which are included in Phase 1 of the project, will cost up to $11 million, Flemma said. He added the school wants to raise another $6-$7 million before beginning Phase 1, for which he hopes “shovels hit the ground” in August.

If all, including fundraising, goes according to plan, the school’s gym classes and basketball and volleyball teams will need new space for the 2023-’24 school year. Flemma said the school is planning a temporary facility on campus for physical education and athletic practices and is calling all the school’s local connections to arrange home athletic venues.

Renovations to Mac Gym would include fire safety and security improvements, HVAC system replacement, and accessibility enhancements, as well as new bleachers, Flemma said in a letter to the Village of Winnetka.

An overhead look at the project in context with the rest of the campus and area.

The proposed addition is 24,000 square feet and would include training space, a fitness center, a lounge and more to support the school’s kinetic wellness and extra-curricular programming. The new space would require the demolition of the school’s Leicester Hall (administration offices), its outdoor swimming pool and a pair of student parking spaces, Village documents show.

Phase II of the project would focus on the development of a second gymnasium. Flemma said the second phase would cost an additional $8-$10 million and “we don’t anticipate we’ll be able to do both of those (phases) immediately.”

The new exterior to the buildings will feature a clean, light-colored facade complete with the North Shore Country Day emblem.

“I’m sort of excited about the idea that someone driving on Green Bay Road would know that we’re here,” Flemma said.

Prior to Village Board approval, the school’s proposal had already earned support of the Village’s Design Review Board (Jan. 19), Zoning Board of Appeals (Feb. 13) and Plan Commission (Feb. 22). The Landmark Preservation Commission required a study that identified Leicester Hall as a historically significant building, meaning that NSCD must wait 270 days, or until Nov. 3, before demolishing it.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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