St. John to start work on classroom wing this fall

Addition will mark major step toward consolidation of Port Washington parish’s two school campuses
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Construction of a new classroom wing at St. John XXIII’s St. Peter’s Campus in Port Washington is expected to begin this fall, with the intent that the school’s two campuses will be consolidated by the 2019-20 school year.

The design of the new wing on the east side of the existing St. Peter’s school was approved last week by the Port Washington Design Review Board and Plan Commission, whose members praised what they said was a seamless addition to the building.

“I think it’s going to be good all around for function and security,” Plan Commission member and architect Brenda Fritsch said.

The project is expected to cost about $5 million, Parish Administrator Mike Burch said, adding the parish has about half that amount already.

“We’ll probably have to have a second capital campaign (to raise the rest),” he said.

Architect Martin Choren of Plunkett Raysich Architects said construction is expected to begin in November. It should be ready for classes to be held there in fall 2019.

“It’s going to be a little tight,” Burch said of the construction timeline.

The 19,600-square-foot addition to the southeast side of the existing school will hold 10 classrooms, allowing the school to consolidate its St. Mary’s and St. Peters campuses in a secure wing, Choren said.

“We’ve had a big challenge to control the mix of school and public functions in the building,” he said.

“The archdiocese has been very adamant about the need for security.”

Burch said the changes to the design have largely been spurred by the need for additional security.

“In today’s world of school shootings, it’s unfortunate but we don’t want to say ‘What if,” he said. “And now’s the time to do it.”

The school entrance will be moved to the east side of the building, Choren said, adding care has been taken to integrate the addition with the existing church and school.

“Architecturally, we’re matching the materials and design elements,” he said. “By moving the entrance to the east side, we now have a recognizable entrance to the school.”

While the plans called for a metal siding at the school entrance, officials suggested a brick facade would be more appropriate.

They also suggested the architect do something to make the entrance more prominent, perhaps by adding brackets above it.

“I think the main entrance seems understated,” said Ald. Mike Ehrlich, an architect and member of the commission. That’s especially true because it’s set back at the end of a large ramp.

The road around the east side of the school will be altered, Choren said, but the parking lot will not. Buses will continue to drop students off in the existing parking lot.

The existing school offices will be moved to the addition, making room for the entrance to St. John Parish’s St. Peter of Alcantara Church to be expanded, Choren said.

The stairway to the lower level and the existing lift will be removed, with an elevator added on the east side, he said. A large gathering area with a kitchenette will then be created in the entry.

Burch noted that the addition will create enough space for all the parish ministries, not just the school, to be consolidated at St. Peter’s.

The new addition will not only allow the parish to consolidate its two schools, but also to sell the St. Mary’s School building.

Ansay Development has an accepted offer to purchase the school and adjoining parish center and has said it would like to convert it into an apartment building with between 25 and 35 market-rate units.

To accommodate this, Ansay has asked the city to consider create a pay-as-you-go tax incremental financing district.

This type of district would require the developer to pay the cost of improvements upfront, with the city refunding a designated portion of that money through the increased taxes paid on the building.

The amount to be refunded and the term over which it would be repaid would be subject to negotiations between Ansay and the city.

Preliminary estimates value the renovated St. Mary’s School at $3 million to $4 million. The city currently receives no taxes from the property.

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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