Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep realized a dream come true in 2018, when the school moved into a newly renovated building in Waukegan. After years of fundraising and 18 months of construction, its 400 students walked into their new, state-of-the-art school and the feeling was one of excitement — and empowerment.

Dr. Michael Odiotti, left, cuts the ribbon with students during the 2018 grand opening.

That same feeling of excitement permeates the school community today with the announcement that Cristo Rey St. Martin was  selected to win a Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

The award is part of the foundation’s Landmark Illinois Program. Its annual awards program, now in its 27th year, honors exceptional historic preservation projects and the people saving important places in Illinois.

“(Cristo Rey St. Martin) symbolizes an expanded definition of preservation, where no building is overlooked for its reuse potential,” Landmark officials said, “and where inclusion, equity and environmental sustainability are prioritized.”

Located at 3106 Belvidere Road in Waukegan, an $18.5 million adaptive reuse project — led by JGMA architects and the McShane Construction Company — converted a former K-Mart big box store into a state-of-the-art high school.

President Preston Kendall, center, acknowledges the role of the Viatorians, including Fr. Charles Bolser, left, and Fr. John Milton, right, in 2018.

“This is a milestone moment for us,” said Preston Kendall, school president. “We have a lot of really talented young people who come from very hard-working families who need help. We believe education is the door to their opportunities.”

Viatorians have supported the school since it opened in 2004, and they were on hand for the ribbon cutting, including Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, a former president; Fr. John Milton, CSV, a science consultant; and Associate Jim Thomas, who serves on its board of trustees.

The school had long ago outgrown its leased space at the former St. Joseph Parish complex, a former grade school on a two-acre property comprised of less than 30,000 square feet on the south side of Waukegan, but fundraising took time. Still, one year after opening, school officials were able to add a second phase that added a chapel and gymnasium.

School officials will formally accept their award at a dinner ceremony Oct. 22 in Chicago.