Anselmo Villarreal has big plans for La Casa de Esperanza's charter school over the next several years.

In order for those plans to come to fruition, however, a building expansion needs to take place at the Waukesha-based organization's property at 410 Arcadian Ave.

The city is getting its first look at La Casa's expansion plans this week during a review by the Waukesha Plan Commission.

According to plans submitted to the plan commission, La Casa is proposing a three-story addition to its existing building to accommodate the charter school, which opened last fall with 88 students for 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten classes.

Those students currently use a remodeled facility La Casa owns at 403 Arcadian Ave.

The charter school, which is independent from the Waukesha School District, plans to add grade levels each year. With more students expected to attend the charter school, more space is needed.

Campaign underway

Villarreal, the organization's chief executive officer, said La Casa has begun a three-phase $8 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art school. He said last fall he wanted to break ground on the first phase, for classrooms through fifth grade, this spring. 

If the necessary approvals are given and the funds are raised, he hopes to have that building open by September 2017. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $3.5 million. 

The proposed addition would add 11,504 square feet of space to the building. With the parking space, the three-story building's total area includes 43,452 square feet.

The $2 million second phase includes finishing the interior floors.

The third phase, which will cost approximately $2.5 million, will include a 20,000-square-foot building to the north for more classroom space for grades six through eight as well as additional office space. Villarreal hopes to have that open by September 2021.

The initial addition would extend north along Caroline Street with parking in the back of the building. The site will include a redesigned parking lot with 38 parking spaces as well as a circular dropoff/pickup lane.

La Casa is also in the process of purchasing a parcel from the city south of Arcadian and west of the railroad tracks, according to the project architect, Mark W. Paschke.

That parcel will be dedicated to parking — an additional 78 spaces.

City support

Plan commission staff recommended approval of the preliminary plans with various conditions, including that the transformers and mechanicals are properly located and screened from public view.

City Planner Maria Pandazi also said the organization needs to add architectural detail in the facade design (particularly around the windows and in the tower element), incorporate additional landscaping along the street elevation and provide a long-range plan for the two residential properties north of Concordia Avenue. (La Casa has indicated it owns both homes.)

La Casa de Esperanza, a nonprofit, was established in 1966. The organization's goal is to provide opportunities within the community to achieve social and economic participation in society, with an emphasis on the Hispanic population.

The organization serves more than 20,000 individuals and families through its programs and services.

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