Wildwood Nature Center Improvements

Renovation Project

The Park District has been awarded a $750,000 Illinois Public Museum Capital Grant to renovate the property at 531 Forestview that the District acquired at the end of 2020.

Wildwood Nature Center Improvements


In March of 2022, the Park Ridge Park District was awarded a $750,000 Illinois Public Museum Capital Grant to renovate the property at 531 Forestview that the District acquired at the end of 2020.

The property is located adjacent to the Wildwood Nature Center at Maine Park, and will be renovated to function as a visitors center for the Wildwood Nature Center. Wildwood Nature Center’s live animal exhibits, collections, and artifacts will be relocated to this building, as well as the interactive Nature Nook playroom. An accessible restroom, office space for staff, asbestos abatement, HVAC upgrades, and roof replacement are also included in the indoor renovation plans. The wooded backyard will extend the current Woodland Walk at the Wildwood Nature Center and provide an outdoor nature play space free for the public use.

The project has a budget estimate of $889,000. The maximum grant awarded for projects is $750,000, and the District will provide the additional required matching funds from our Capital Projects Fund. 


  • Bid Process: Early 2023
  • Construction Starts: Spring 2023
  • Project Completion: Fall 2023


December 21, 2023 - We are very excited to announce that the new Wildwood Nature Center building at 531 Forestview will be opening to the public on Saturday, December 23, 2023!  The animals have been missing their interaction with the public and are looking forward to welcoming visitors again. We hope to see you soon!

December 6, 2023 - The animals have been moved in. The District is working through our last inspections this week, and we hope to have temporary occupancy soon. Opening date to the public will be determined once we receive occupancy.

November 8, 2023 - The project is substantially complete.  Final walk through and punch list is scheduled for November 8. Professional Cleaning is scheduled on November 10. Animal enclosure move in is scheduled on November 15, and furniture delivery on November 20. Opening date to the public is still to be determined.

October 19, 2023 - Roof installation is scheduled to begin on Friday, October 20, and the contractor anticipates completion of their work on Wednesday, October 25. Afterwhich, a punch list will be determined with staff and our architect, and those items are to be completed by October 30. After, the building will be professionally cleaned before staff begins moving in the week of November 6. Opening date to the public is still to be determined.

September 27, 2023 - The project continues to move forward: flooring installation has begun, staining of the woodwork has been completed, concrete work is nearly complete, the lighting has been delivered and will be installed after the flooring is completed, custom trim has been installed, exterior stucco has been restored, and the exterior has been painted. The new roof is being scheduled. 

September 6, 2023 - The contractor has had a series of issues with supplies and scheduling subcontractors. As a result, the schedule has been revised to have interior work completed by September 15. However, the lighting has been delayed possibly beyond September 15, and unfortunately the animals cannot be moved into the building until the lights are installed because the contractor needs an open space for access. After the lights are installed, staff will still need to move the furnishings and animals into the space before opening to the public. 

August 9, 2023 - The contractor recently communicated that they will not be able to meet the original deadline for project completion, stating a number of reasons for the delay, some of which are reasonable and some of which are due to lack of labor and the prioritization of other projects on their schedule. The contractor has provided a revised schedule with a completion date of Friday, September 8 (three weeks past the August 18 date in our agreement). Staff has confidence that the contractor will successfully deliver a completed project that meet the standards of the Park District and we will be monitoring the project and the schedule daily. Pending no further delays, the re-opening will be scheduled towards the end of September. 

July 27, 2023 - Framing is complete. All the existing wood has been sanded and prepared for stain. Foundations are to be poured next week. 

June 21, 2023 - Utility work is complete. Interior demolition is complete. And, demolition of the exterior sidewalk is complete.

June 14, 2023 - Utility work has started, and will extend through the end of the week. The contractor has also begun sanding the ceilings for new finish. 

May 31, 2023 - Water main/utility work is scheduled to begin next week.

May 17, 2023 - The permit is in place and demolition has begun. 

April 27, 2023 - Preconstruction meeting was held on April 17. Construction will start later this month once all permits are received, and is expected to to last thru August.