Reaction varies to new childcare center for old Borders building

When the Borders Bookstore closed in January 2010, many Chestnut Hill residents were hoping the next tenant would be something on par with an Apple Store. That didn’t happen. Last week Children of America announced it had signed a 15-year lease for 8701 Germantown Avenue.

Over the weekend, reaction to the childcare center was mixed with some disappointment but others relief.

Alex Chapman, owner of Philly Dog Spot, said Children of America is offering something good for the area. “It’s an early learning center with a good reputation,” he said. “I’m totally for it.” Chapman said he’s pleased that the company decided to put its money into the Chestnut Hill community and that the vacant building needed to be filled.

Harry Camarda, a frequenter of Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. across the street, said the (vacant) building has been an eyesore for almost two years. “It’s better something is there than it being empty,” he said. “And it’ll give some activity to the area.”

Jeannie Stith was hoping for big name retailer. “I heard rumors about an Anthropologie going there,” she said. “That would be fabulous. It’s a great location.” Stith said the building seems too big to be a daycare center. Children of America has big plans for the 15,000-foot space. If the business is successful, COA officials say they may start a charter school at the location.

Ann Breen, from Wyndmoor, said she thinks a retail store would be better suited in the building. “It’s very unsafe, I think,” Breen said. “It’s a very busy corner for pick up and drop offs.”

The childcare center is located at the intersection of Germantown Ave. and Bethlehem Pike. But it is also a very convenient spot with the SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West and its bus depot both nearby.

Children of America is a national childcare provider, which operates several centers in Pennsylvania: North Wales, Landsdale, Warminster, Warrington and Southampton.

The daycare provider says it could be open by March of 2012.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal