Arian Smedley | Athens Messenger
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2012
Stages Early Learning Center expected to open second facility in Albany
Stages Early Learning Center, housed on the grounds of the former River Valley Community School on West Union Street, will be the new addition to the revamped Alexander Elementary School building, now dubbed Center Albany. The plan is to open the doors of Stages Albany on Aug. 20, pending an inspection with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
“We’re a little nervous,” said co-owner Heather Thompson. “That’s expected when venturing into a second site. But it’s wonderful to have people trust you with your company and have faith in your excellent care. It’s sort of a pat on the back.”
The number of students will depend on the outcome of final licensing, but Thompson anticipates having room for 14 early preschoolers, 24 preschoolers and 16 school-age kids. Due to building code limitations, the new center will serve children ages 2 1/2 to 12. The Athens center takes children as young as 6 weeks old.
Last summer, Center Albany Ltd. purchased the old school building in Albany from the village for a sum of $206,000. Capstone Property Management, of Athens, then took over management of the former school, which closed in 2004 after a new building was constructed. Soon after, Capstone Manager Bob Prebe approached Thompson and co-owner Alexis Radcliff about the idea of opening a facility there.
“We conducted an exhaustive search around the area,” Prebe said. “We selected them as the focus of our attention. We felt their mission and methods were top-notch. We’re very happy to see them there.”
The new facility will partner with Albany Cafe, another tenant in the building that opened in the old school cafeteria earlier this year. The cafe will offer hot and cold breakfast as well as lunch and afternoon snack for the center.
“We think that’ll be a big plus with the parents,” said Radcliff. “I’m a parent myself. I know I’m always running around trying to get lunches packed. We’ll be able to take that piece off the parent.”
Students will also have access to the stage and gym, which will serve as the center’s indoor gross motor skills area. The construction of a 6,000 square foot outdoor play area is currently in the works. The Wells Public Library, located in front of the school, will serve as an added resource for both the children and the teachers, Thompson said.
Stages hit a nerve on the need for childcare in the area, and the business has grown with the demand. When Thompson and Radcliff first opened their doors in 2007, their business took up just four classrooms. Two years ago, they expanded to include another floor, doubling their size. Still, nearly every one of their classrooms has a waiting list.
“And who knows, maybe in a couple years, we’ll be ready to expand again,” Radcliff said.
In addition to the childcare center and cafe, the other tenants of Centre Albany include Sound Health, the Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center, village government offices and the Albany seniors group. Capstone just installed fibre optic Internet connection, which Prebe said will be the “fastest Internet connection in the area.”
“It’s a wonderful mix of children, seniors and other adults,” Prebe added. “This is meant to be a community center and business center, all in one.”