Bergman Academy is proposing to construct a student activity center at its school in Greenwood Park. The school is in a building that previously housed the Science Center of Iowa. Rendering by ID8 Architects, PLC.

Bergman Academy, a private secular school, plans to add a student activity center to its facility  located at 100 45th St. in Des Moines’ Greenwood Park.

Construction of the $3.1 million project is expected to begin in mid-2021 and take more than a year to complete, according to preliminary plans presented this week to the Urban Design Review Board.

In 2008, Bergman moved into the facility that previously had housed the Science Center of Iowa. The facility had been vacant for about three years before Bergman began leasing it from the city. (The 20-year lease includes two 10-year renewal options.) 

At the time, the school had about 80 preschool through eighth-grade students, board chairman Scott Johnson told the city board. Bergman now has more than 300 students; the school’s capacity is about 340 students.

“Our cafeteria isn’t large enough for us to have school plays,” Johnson said. “We have music programs in shifts [by] grades. Space is at a premium.”

During the winter months, students are bused to a different location for physical education classes, Johnson said. During warmer months, “we have a great public park in which our kids can go on walks. They run the mile around the pond.”

Eight classrooms were added to the facility about three years ago. Plans had called for a gymnasium to also be added, but that part of the project was put on hold, Ryan Moffatt, the city’s economic development coordinator, said this week.

The proposed 10,300-square-foot activity center would be built northeast of the building’s main entrance and would include a full-sized basketball court, a performing arts stage and locker rooms. When the school isn’t using the facility, it could be used by other community groups, Moffatt said.

Several trees will be removed during the project. Bergman officials have worked with the city to develop a mitigation plan, Moffatt said. The project will be expected to meet city ordinances in providing an appropriate amount of replacement trees that would be planted near the project as well as in Greenwood Park, according to a city document.

Members of the Urban Design Review Board were supportive of the proposed project, approving its preliminary design. The proposal will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Board later this year. The proposal must also be reviewed by the City Council.