Childcare provider signs longterm lease for Chestnut Hill’s Borders building

A new childcare center planned for Chestnut Hill’s premier retail spot is hoping to become a permanant fixture in the community.

Officials with the national chain Children of America said Thursday that the company has signed a 15-year lease with two, five-year options at 8701 Germantown Ave., the former site of a Borders bookstore.

“We’re really excited about being in the area,” said President and CEO Thad Pryor. “We’re going to bring a lot to the community and hopefully the community will enjoy our services.”

The 15,000 square-foot space will initially provide full day programs for children through kindergarten as well as afterschool programs for children from first through fifth grade. It will likely be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. throughout the work week, said Pryor.

“We’re more about the base of education and less of a babysitting service,” he said.

Down the road, Pryor hopes the building will house a private, K-5 charter school. It would be the company’s first foray into full-time education.

That transition, scheduled to start after the first two years, will be gradual, said Pryor.

“We’ll stop taking infant children and we’ll replace that with first grade and as we start getting first grade set-up we’ll continue to have our children go to second grade, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade as the demand happens,” explained Pryor.

Eileen Reilly, Chestnut Hill’s retail recruiter, is pleased that the building will finally be filled. It’s sat vacant for nearly two years.

“I’m happy to see a tenant. I’m happy to see trucks there,” said Reilly, who is charged with helping to fill vacant store fronts along Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.

Reilly was not involved in this particular deal.

Reilly said she would have preferred to see a retailer move into the space that could drive foot-traffic to surrounding businesses on the Avenue. Still, she’s optimistic about the role Children of American can play in the community.

“Maybe they won’t support the restaurants, but they’ll support local initiatives that are child-friendly,” said Reilly.

Children of America is scheduled to open on the Avenue in spring 2012.

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