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 education and care, Primrose Schools has made a big push to open new urban locations across the country.
Urban development has challenged the Primrose Real Estate Team and Franchise Owners to be more creative when building new schools. We’ve learned some valuable lessons that can help any CRE professional who is active in urban markets, from the broker looking to lease that last commercial space in an office building to the developer looking to create the next big mixed-use project.
Explore All of Your Demand Drivers
Today’s parents are increasingly demanding child care closer to their places of work. 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 employment centers, which can be strong source of demand for any service provider.
Our first urban school, Primrose School of Midtown at Colony Square, is located in a mixed-use, high-rise development in the heart of Atlanta. Thousands of people work within walking distance, and it shows in the school’s success — there is almost always a wait list to enroll new students.
Employers benefit from this, too. Having service offerings like child care so close to your place of business can be an attractive incentive to employees.
Be Flexible in Development
In urban markets, finding a suitable site at a fair price can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So what does a growing company like Primrose do? We 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 schools. We also have completed several adaptive reuse projects, including transforming a former bank branch building in Dallas into a school. When an available site is too small for our traditional one-story school, we go vertical. Primrose School of Brookhaven opened last year as a two-story building in a mixed-use retail center within Atlanta city limits.
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 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. At the new Primrose schools of Upper Kirby, also in Houston, we adapted a second-floor parking deck for the older children’s playground (don’t worry, our playgrounds continue to meet rigorous safety standards). Go ahead and throw us a curve ball. We have learned to hit them out of the park!
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. Your role is to help us meet our goal of serving all children.