Phoenix Country Day School on final leg of landmark renovation effort

A graphic rendering of expansion efforts ongoing at Phoenix Country Day School. (Submitted graphic)

A graphic rendering of expansion efforts ongoing at Phoenix Country Day School. (Submitted graphic)

Phoenix Country Day School is in the early stages of completing a decade-long campus renovation plan and its first step is updating its administration building.

The school is requesting a Special Use Permit in hopes of building the final installment of its $22 million campus capital improvement plan at 3901 E. Standford Drive in Paradise Valley.

During the Paradise Valley Town Council’s Dec. 1 study session, elected leaders were presented with initial plans of the proposed rebuild, before it is sent to Planning Commission.

Plans include a new one-story building 27 feet in height, covering about 9,810 square feet — replacing the school’s existing 2,700-square-foot building, according to the proposal.

The project will include a 200-foot setback from Standford Drive; two new signs; and matching fencing to go between the administration and other buildings on each side.

“Our current administrative building is one of our oldest spaces on campus and no longer effectively meets the needs of our collaborative campus community,” said PCDS Associate Head of School Patrick McHonett, in a Dec. 1 emailed response to questions.

“We’ve appropriately focused on updating and improving all of our classroom and co-curricular spaces on campus over the last decade, and the new administrative building, which will also serve as a welcome center, is the last piece to an overall campus renovation plan being addressed through a $22 million-plus capital campaign called ‘Thrive.’”

Founded in 1961, the town first issued a Special Use Permit to the school in 1972. The town has since granted several amendments to the SUP, as the school has upgraded its facilities over time.
Recent amendments to the SUP included the removal of an aquatic facility and rebuilding a new gymnasium.

The new building would not change or add any uses, the PCDS application states.

“The new space will allow our key administrative teams, which are currently spread throughout campus, to work together seamlessly to meet the needs of our community,” Mr. McHonett said.

“It will also create a facility that is more welcoming to the hundreds of prospective families looking at PCDS, potential new faculty and staff, an the generations of alumni that return  to the campus they’ve called home since our founding in 1961.”

The application states the building is currently not very welcoming.

“Families, students, prospective students and visitor in general walk into a very small area with a reception desk and just about enough room for two chairs, which are not occupied comfortably if another visitor comes to sign in at reception,” the application states. “There is no privacy, sense of community, comfort or any ability to convey the quality of the educational experience that PCDS presents.”

If the administration building project is granted, it will be the fourth component to the school’s Thrive campaign.

The first two projects addressed campus athletic needs: the Dady Aquatic & Tennis Center and the Najafi Gymnasium and Garvin Family Walk of Champions. The third project completely renovated the school’s academic space with The Shin Center for Art, Science & Innovation.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached at 623-445-2746, by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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