CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - There’s a new $5-million dollar addition to the South Side's Grand Crossing neighborhood that's unlike anything the area has seen before.
‘Grand Crossing Kid Care’ is a project that was three years in the making. It’s a labor of love for a lot of people and it opened this week with just a little fanfare, but with more expected when the ribbon cutting is held next month.
Rhea Thomas did a lot of homework, searching for the perfect preschool for her 3-year-old son, Evan. She found it recently at the corner of Greenwood and 75th Place.
“When this came up it was the perfect thing for us,” said Thomas
Her fears about how he would adapt faded quickly when he walked in the doors on his first day.
“He was friendly. He was like 'bye mom!' He was happy, I was happy, it was a good Monday,” Thomas said.
Inside the facility are little tables to match the little chairs, books, games and beds for napping, which is all that you would expect to see.
It’s what you aren't expecting, says the school's operator that makes kid care so special.
“We took an old warehouse, gutted it out, it's three stories, 42-thousand square feet that exposes kids to Mandarin, Spanish, baby yoga, physical fitness,” Micehelle Redd-Newell said.
Thomas says no other programs in Grand Crossing came close. But this offers something the community with some 4-thousand kids desperately needed, and it also brings something else to this South Side neighborhood: Jobs.
“When we're at max capacity, the school will hold 363-400 students and that's given me an opportunity to employee over 70 employees,” Redd-Newell said.
The project came with a hefty price tag: $5-million to build the school. It was funded entirely by New Life Covenant Church-Southeast, which is also located in the Grand Crossing neighborhood.
The opening of ‘Grand Crossing Kid Care’ is the first milestone in a three part project for that area. Later this fall, the renovations of Hirsch Metropolitan High School are expected to be completed, followed by the opening of an 85-thousand square foot church.