Giant Pike/Pine child care center opens as Capitol Hill preschooler population swells

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The GSBA’s Louise Chernin was on hand Saturday to do the honors as the new center celebrated its grand opening (Image: CHS)

Nope, this isn't Pike/Pine's latest new outdoor bar (Image: Bright Horizons)

Nope, this isn’t Pike/Pine’s latest new outdoor bar (Image: Bright Horizons)

Yes, there are definitely more strollers getting pushed around Capitol Hill and in Central Seattle. That means more parents looking for a place to stash their kids while they work to pay off homes that are rapidly rising in value.

With an eye on this shifting population, Bright Horizons chose the backside of Pike/Pine for its eighth Seattle childcare and preschool center. The 10th and E Seneca for-profit preschool held a grand opening on Saturday, but had already been buzzing for a few weeks with kids who had been on a waiting list for over a year.

“We have a good majority of families that live right here on the Hill,” said director Jenica Jones. “So many more families want to live and work around downtown.”

That’s a big change from even a few years ago, Jones said, when Bright Horizon centers downtown mostly catered to families who were commuting into the city.

(Images: Bright Horizons)

The new Capitol Hill center — located near the three-way intersection of arteries 12th Ave, Madison and Union and known as Bright Horizons at Seneca Street — will meet many parents at a commuting crossroads between Capitol Hill and downtown. Jones said the center is already seeing many parents using public transit for drop-offs and pickups.

The 172-student capacity center boasts some impressive amenities: 14 classrooms, an art studio, science lab, rock climbing wall, and four playgrounds. The center serves infants to 6-year-olds. There is no sliding scale or reduced rates offered at Bright Horizons, the nation’s “largest provider of employer-sponsored child care.”

UPDATE: The cost for all this care? Parents pay around $2,000 per month depending on the child’s age.

The $1.7 million project overhauled the home of the longtime community health services organization Lifelong AIDS Alliance, which found a new home on E Pike.

In 2013, there were an estimated 1,281 kids enrolled in nursery school/preschool in Council District 3, and that number is growing. From 2000-2013, the under five population for the Central Area (98112, 98102, and 98122) grew 31%, according to U.S. Census data. There are 56 child care centers in the same area. While many have been open for years, 15 of those have opened within the past five years, according to city permit data reviewed by CHS.

One of those was The Good Friends School, a home-based preschool that opened in Leschi last year. Luckily, owner Waleska Leiva didn’t have to start from scratch, something she said would’ve been nearly impossible given the skyrocketing cost of real estate. Leiva worked for the Mary Lane Preschool in Denny-Blaine and took over much of the client base after the owner retired. Waleska even moved from the U-District to Leschi to be closer to her families.

“Word of mouth is how these little home businesses work,” Leiva said. “It’s just hard to get your name out there. I’m not Bright Horizons. I don’t invest in advertising.” This would be a good time to note that, yes, indeed, Bright Horizons is a CHS advertiser.

Meanwhile, another Bright Horizons center could be in the works a just few blocks north on Broadway. Gerding Edlen, the master developer of the Capitol Hill Station housing/retail/community space project, promised to include a daycare with subsidized rates as part of its winning proposal unveiled earlier this year. At the time, Gerding said it was already working with Bright Horizons on a plan.

Last year, Seattle voters approved a tax increase to create a four-year pilot program to provide tuition-free pre-K for a quarter of Seattle’s three and four-year-olds and make subsidies available for the rest. Calling it “the most important thing I’ll ever do as mayor,” Mayor Ed Murray unveiled the plan last April.

Out of the roughly 12,300 preschool-aged kids in the city, between a quarter and a third are not enrolled in any type of formal preschool program. A “gap analysis” study released by the city in January showed poor children and children of color are vastly underserved.

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2 thoughts on “Giant Pike/Pine child care center opens as Capitol Hill preschooler population swells

  1. More childcare in the inner neighborhoods is excellent, even if it’s for-profit, I guess. Those chain-link fences though…kinda creepy. I feel like I’ve seen that stock image before, only then the pens were referred to as zoo exhibits!

    • Almost every elementary school fences in the kidlettes. It beats having them wander out into the traffic or surrounding neighborhood.