District 79 preparing for Ivanhoe Village mega-development in Mundelein


In December 2022, Fremont Elementary District 79 was preparing to update its short- and long-term strategic plans when news from Mundelein shifted the focus beyond the three-school campus straddling Fremont Center Road.

“Obviously, the scope of our facilities plan grew,” said Superintendent Trish Kocanda. “We recognized this was going to be a far more complex process.”

Ivanhoe Village is the proposed development on the vast Wirtz family holdings on the far northwest side of Mundelein, generally south of Peterson Road (top) and north of Route 60 (diagonal center).
Courtesy of Fremont Elementary District 79

The village was annexing what so far has amounted to 772 acres of mostly farmland — owned for many generations by the Wirtz family which also owns the Chicago Blackhawks and other businesses — as the site of a proposed mega-development called Ivanhoe Village.

 
Nick Brilowski, public relations director, and Trisha Kocanda, superintendent at Fremont Elementary District 79, look over an aerial view of the school campus straddling Fremont Center Road. The district is preparing for the proposed Ivanhoe Village development expected to add more than 1,000 students over the next 25 years.
Mick Zawislak/mzawislak@dailyherald.com

To be developed over 25 years, the concept calls for a mix of housing types, shops, athletic fields, pocket parks, a village center, light industrial buildings and other elements mainly south of Peterson Road and north of Route 60, with a small piece south of Route 60.

‘A legacy project’: Plans for massive development of homes, shops, parks more unveiled in Mundelein

Planning to determine how best to meet future needs in District 79 expanded and accelerated. The influx of students, the district determined, would create an estimated $107 million in facility expansion needs.

 
Fremont Elementary District 79 is developing a facilities plan in advance of the proposed Ivanhoe Village development that includes the property north and east of Route 60 in Mundelein. The Fremont Township highway department building is at bottom.
John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com

With 3,200 housing units planned, Ivanhoe Village over time will generate a population roughly equivalent to Long Grove and an estimated 1,011 new students — an increase of about 53% — for District 79.

‘A big deal’: Wirtz family proposes housing, commercial development for massive site near Mundelein

“It will be a game changer for us,” said Nick Brilowski, District 79 public relations director. “It’s been at the top of our minds for the past year and a half.”

Aside from the annexation, next steps regarding what Ivanhoe Village will become and how it will progress are ongoing between the village and developer.

Mundelein officials say they are in “deep discussions” regarding a development agreement outlining details and responsibilities to be ready early next year.

But friction has surfaced as the parties assess and plan for the legacy project. Village officials said District 79 and Mundelein High School District 120 opted to take their construction estimates public rather than accept a process offered by the village to discuss their needs with the developer.

 
Fremont Elementary District 79 straddles Fremont Center Road near Mundelein. The district is planning for a pending mega-development called Ivanhoe Village that is expected to add more than 1,000 students in coming years.
Mick Zawislak/mzawislak@dailyherald.com

“Our goal here is to work on a fair and reasonable agreement with the developers,” Kocanda said. “We need to make sure we set ourselves up in the best possible position long term.”

But school districts don’t have legal authority to impose impact fees, according to village officials.

Property taxes are expected to pay the cost of educating students, including construction of new facilities, and the amounts to be collected from Ivanhoe Village are expected to surpass operating costs by millions of dollars each year, they say.

“For whatever reason, they are taking a political approach rather than one based on good-faith negotiations within legal norms and parameters,” said Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz of the school district officials.

In District 79, a community-based steering committee created in January is assessing current conditions, anticipating future needs and managing enrollment growth as part of the long-range facilities plan.

Public presentations have been held, copious information posted on its website and a resident survey commissioned.

“We have got to start sharing with the community the potential impact,” Kocanda said. “They need to be part of the process.”

The district wants to minimize potential tax impacts over time, she added.

Among the findings released last month were that 86% of respondents opposed increasing class sizes and decreasing programs to manage the expected enrollment growth. The district also reported 91% of respondents supported the idea that residential developers should pay sufficient fees to support new building construction to manage the enrollment growth.

Districts 79 and 120 plan to meet with developers directly to make their cases in hopes of getting commitments to offset some future growth costs. In District 79, for example, the intent is to limit what may be asked of taxpayers later, according to Kocanda.

“We’re trying to do an adequate investment without overburdening taxpayers over time,” she said.

“We have got to start sharing with the community the potential impact,” she added. “We couldn’t stall our process and wait for all our data to be finalized.”

Kevin Myers, superintendent of districts 75 and 120, said his understanding is that the village’s impact fee structure invites the builder to collaborate with schools.

“Our hope is to proactively work with the developer and the village of Mundelein to establish a fee schedule to minimize the impact on our current taxpayers,” he said.



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