The past two decades have seen more and more families moving into the urban core of cities. Many of these neighborhoods have turned into vibrant communities, yet we continue to see that they often lack basic services such as child care. To help satisfy this demand for high-quality early childhood education and care, Primrose Schools has looked to the city for many of its new schools.
An urban location challenges the Primrose Real Estate Team and Primrose Franchise Owners to be more creative when building a new school. We’ve learned some valuable lessons that can help any commercial real estate professional who is active in urban markets, from the broker looking to lease that last commercial property in an office building to the developer looking to mixed use as a way to energize a project.
Explore All of Your Demand Drivers
Today’s parents are increasingly demanding child care closer to their workplaces. So when we look to open schools in urban areas, we’re not only looking for a strong residential population. We’re keeping our eyes open for locations near large office campuses, research universities and teaching hospitals, which can be strong source of demand for any service provider.
Primrose School at Denver Tech Center is located within the city’s second-largest employment center. In Philadelphia, we recently opened Primrose School of Center City in one of the city’s bustling commercial business districts. Thousands of parents work within walking distance of this new school.
(credit: Don Pearse)
Employers benefit from this, too. Having service offerings like child care so close to your place of business can be an attractive incentive for employees.
Be Flexible in Development
In urban areas, finding a suitable site at a fair price can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So what should a CRE broker or developer do? Think creatively.
Lower floors of office buildings and retail spaces set back from street frontage are traditionally difficult to lease, but they often make great locations for Primrose. We also have completed several adaptive reuse projects, including transforming a former bank branch building in Dallas into Primrose School of Preston Hollow.
When an available site is too small for our traditional one-story school, we go vertical. The new Primrose School of Willow Glen, which is currently under construction in San Jose, California, is a two-story building. Even though it is being built on less than an acre of land, it will still serve the same number of children as our traditional schools!
Urban markets may be short on undeveloped land, but they are tall on opportunity. You just have to keep your eyes open, pound the pavement and be open to trying something a little different. That hard-to-lease space may just be the perfect fit for a fabulous new Primrose school.
But Keep Some Things Consistent
While the location and building may be different, we want every Primrose to have the same warm, inviting feel for parents. A consistent design plays a key role in achieving that standard. Every school has a safe and convenient space for parents to pick up and drop off their children. Once parents enter, they’re greeted with the same elegant hardwood interiors and abundant windows that make Primrose feel like home.
One key element of our design is an outdoor playground. Since many large outdoor spaces can be hard to come by, our Primrose Real Estate Team has brainstormed creative solutions for several schools. At Primrose School at the Galleria, located within Houston’s famed Galleria mall, we used rooftop space adjacent to the school (don’t worry, each playground continues to meet rigorous safety standards
). At the new Primrose School of Buckhead, we created a linear playground out of an underutilized courtyard in the office building. Go ahead and throw us a curve ball. We have learned to hit them out of the park!
(credit: Jackson Spalding)
While developing and designing urban schools challenges the Primrose Real Estate Team and Franchise Owners to think outside of the box (literally, in some cases), opening schools within city limits is incredibly rewarding as we are able to fill a need and give the children and families in these areas the premier early learning experience they deserve.
The number of families living in urban areas will only increase in the years to come, so our team has made identifying sites for new schools close to city centers a top priority. Curious about what makes an ideal site for a new Primrose School? Visit the Primrose Schools Real Estate webpage to read more about our site criteria for urban schools. Have a site you think would be perfect for Primrose? Contact one of our site acquisition managers at firstname.lastname@example.org today!