The former helping Helping Hand Thrift Store at 3726 Grand Blvd. in downtown Brookfield, vacant since it was gutted by fire in April 2013, will have new life as a child care center next spring.
Alphabet Learning Center, which already operates a location for children 6 weeks to 6 years on Broadway Avenue near Eight Corners, will open a second location on Grand Boulevard once a buildout of the space is complete, said Heather Mayes, director of the center.
“There’s a big need in Brookfield,” said Mayes, who has been the director at Alphabet since March 2012. “We were turning down 10 to 15 people a week.”
Regina Spevak, the owner of the business, opened Alphabet Learning Center in October 2011. The Broadway Avenue location cares for about 85 children (about 75 at any one time), and the new Grand Boulevard space ought to be able to accommodate between 63 and 67 children, Mayes said.
“Brookfield is such a wonderful community for families starting out,” Mayes said. “We had a big boom last year. Seventeen of our families got pregnant.”
Alphabet Learning Center had been looking at locations in Brookfield, LaGrange and LaGrange Park. Mayes said it was important that the new location be close to the Metra line.
The company had been working with a Western Springs-based real estate firm called KrohVan Real Estate Services to find a location. On Sept. 30, KrohVan purchased the property for $165,000 from the prior owners, John Scaletta and Michael Maksimovich. Mayes said Alphabet Learning Center has entered into a long-term lease on the space.
Scaletta said that he retains ownership of the building at 3730 Grand Blvd., a two-story structure that’s immediately south of the one-story brick building that will house Alphabet Learning Center.
According to Scaletta, the two-story building, which was once part of the Helping Hand operation, is being renovated to include a first-floor storefront with an apartment above.
Chris Krohe, the owner of KrohVan, said his architect will soon submit building permit applications for the buildout, which will include bathrooms for both adults and children, a kitchenette and five rooms to house the various age groups served by the center.
“They hope to be open spring 2017,” Krohe said.
Renovating the space, however, should brighten up the west side of Grand Boulevard, which has suffered from having a vacant, boarded-up building for more than three years.
“It really takes away a negative and turns it into a positive,” said Nicholas Greifer, community and economic development director for the village of Brookfield. “It’s a huge aesthetic win for the whole block.
Greifer said that while a child care center in the midst of a retail block is “unconventional,” it will drive foot traffic to the business district.
“From a pedestrian standpoint, it’ll be complementary to the other businesses there,” Greifer said.