The Children’s School is moving closer to finding a permanent new home, as it pushes forward plans to build a three-story daycare facility along Lee Highway.
The child care program for Arlington Public Schools employees is looking for a county permit to redevelop the space once occupied by the Alpine Restaurant at 4770 Lee Highway, marking the first formal proposal that the school would seek to build a a 27,500-square-foot facility on the property.
The Children’s School got its start in 1987 at the Reed School building in Westover as a childcare program owned and operated by school system employees, but APS’ plans to build a new elementary school at the site pushed the program elsewhere.
The co-op is currently operating out of a Ballston office building, and would look to use the Alpine site to expand its operations and serve about 235 children in total. Anywhere from 60 to 70 of those students would likely be part of the “Integration Station” program, which is reserved for kids with developmental or other disabilities, allaying initial worries that The Children’s School wouldn’t be able to maintain its relationship with the program.
The school is hoping to demolish the current restaurant on the property, then build a three-story facility complete with two outdoor play spaces and a one-level underground parking garage.
In all, there would be 42 parking spaces located on site, as well as nine extra spaces on an adjacent lot to serve the roughly 40 employees at the program. The building would also include a “covered drive aisle” to facilitate easy pick-up and drop-offs by parents, with hours running from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday.
The play areas, designed to serve kids from 2 months old to 5 years old, would be located on the second- and third-floor roofs of the property, and both will be enclosed by a 7-foot-tall mesh fence. Those will face away from the road and toward the residential neighborhoods behind the building.
County staff are recommending that the County Board approve the project, writing in a report that the program has managed to work up the right sort of plans to mitigate any potential traffic impacts along Lee Highway. The Lee Highway Alliance also endorsed the project in a letter to the Board.
Board members will consider the permit request Saturday (July 14) as part of the Board’s “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for non-controversial matters that are passed without debate.
A child care center for Arlington Public Schools employees now has the green light to temporarily move to a Ballston office building.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously on April 24 to approve an updated permit for The Children’s School, clearing the way for the nonprofit to relocate to the second and third floors of a building located at 4420 N. Fairfax Drive.
The co-op program has long operated out of the Reed School building in Westover, but, with APS officials planning to open a new elementary school at that site in 2021, The Children’s School has been forced to go elsewhere.
The program’s leaders are currently eyeing the former Alpine Restaurant property along Lee Highway as a permanent home for the daycare center, but they plan to start accepting students at the Ballston location this July while they work out the details.
The newly renewed permit for the program allows it to accept up to 200 children at the facility, and also allows the nonprofit to build a new playground behind the building.
Yet some residents of the condos at the Continental at Ballston, which sits directly behind the program’s new home, raised concerns with the County Board about how the childcare center could impact traffic and parking in the area.
The permit allows for parents picking up and dropping off students to circle around the building using small side street, then turn onto N. Vermont Street to return to N. Fairfax Drive. That prompted concerns that a steady stream of cars passing through in the morning and afternoon could cause headaches for Continental residents, but board members assured the public that they don’t expect any traffic problems with the program’s proposal.
“This is supposed to be a temporary solution,” said Vice Chair Christian Dorsey at the board meeting. “Conceptually, on paper, we think this is going to work just fine. And we have the fall back to know, if this doesn’t work, we can fix it.”
The board is set to review the center’s permit in April 2019, giving Arlington officials a chance to see if the new arrangement is working out for all involved.