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The Gardner School Opens Preschool in West Loop, Plans Bucktown Location

By Alisa Hauser | June 4, 2013 8:32am
 The Gardner School, a fast-expanding early childhood education chain headquartered in Nashville, has its sights set on Bucktown and plans to move into a former manufacturing building at 1612 W. North Ave.
The Gardner School Expands to Bucktown
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BUCKTOWN —  A private preschool chain headquartered in Nashville marked its entry into the Chicago market when it opened a school in the West Loop Monday, and it's headed into Bucktown next.

The Gardner School of Chicago just opened at 1301 W. Madison St. and will be adding a second location in a 15,776-square-foot building on the northeast corner of North Avenue and Marshfield in Bucktown, just west of Ashland Avenue, the company confirmed Monday.

Tammy Robinson, chief operating officer of The Gardner School, said the school plans to open in Bucktown "by the end of November or December."

The Gardner School was founded in 2005 and has locations in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. It entered the Illinois market with an eight outpost in west suburban Warrenville in March.

Robinson said both the West Loop and Bucktown locations would have a capacity of 184 students, and tuition for Bucktown was projected to be between $400 and $500 per week.

Robinson said the school's Bucktown building at 1612 W. North Ave., would be "completely gutted on the inside and will have awnings in front, all new windows, and look much cleaner and sharper" than it does now.

The building is the former home of Delta Technologies, a manufacturer of membrane switches used in the printing industry. Phil Phalen said he sold the building to commercial real estate developer InSite Real Estate LLC for $2 million at the end of April.

Delta Technologies, now part of a California company, maintains a sales office at 905 N. Ashland Ave., Phalen said.

As there is no permanent parking for the building, Robinson said there will be "a dedicated drop-off and concierge curb service" for parents.

The Gardner School is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and offers educational preschool and early childhood programs for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.

Robinson said the school differentiates itself from competitors by requiring all teachers to have a four-year degree and offering "enrichment" courses in computers, foreign languages such as Spanish and Mandarin, dance, gymnastics, karate and music theater.

The Gardner School's immediate neighbors will be another childhood center, ABC Daycare and Preschool at 1634 W. North Ave and Chris' NorthLand Tavern & Grill at 1610 W. North Ave.

While ABC Daycare representatives could not be reached, Chris Gramatis, owner of the tavern, said the fact "another neighbor will be a preschool" just shows how much the neighborhood has changed.

Gramatis, who has owned his tavern for 45 years, said that as recently as 15 years ago "everybody turned left off the expressway, nobody turned right" toward Wicker Park and Bucktown.

"When I first bought this bar in the 1960s you could have shot a cannon down the street and not hit anybody, this area was like a ghost town. There was a time nobody would let their kids walk around anywhere here."

There is one downside, he said.

"Instead of kids, I wish [the new neighbors] were all grown people that can come into my bar and drink."