Builder-developer Ray Watt will head a drive to raise $180,000 to turn a vacant fire station at Santa Monica's Clover Park into a nonprofit child care center operated by Hill an' Dale Family Learning Center.
The city of Santa Monica will lease the old firehouse at Clover Park to the nonprofit Hill an' Dale for up to 10 years for $1 a year.
Vivian Rothstein, assistant to the director of the Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Department, said that Hill an' Dale currently runs a model child care center at Colorado Place. It was selected by the City Council over two other day-care applicants partly because its proposal included a pledge from Watt to raise money for the firehouse renovation, Rothstein said.
Rothstein said the city has wanted for some time to develop the property as a nonprofit child care center, but lacked sufficient funds. The joint venture between the public and private sector will benefit both businesses and working parents who need day-care facilities for their children, she said.
Connections for Children, a nonprofit child care referral agency located in Santa Monica, handles 80 to 100 referrals a month for child care in Santa Monica, according to director Jane David. "There is a shortage of child care, particularly quality child care," David said.
Inquiries by Connections indicate that about 70% of the parents referred are able to place their can be referred to such care. "This is about twice as good as the state average," she said.
The old firehouse, vacated about three years ago, is at 2501 25th St., at Clover Park, within walking distance of Santa Monica Business Park and next to a residential neighborhood.
When completed, the center will serve approximately 45 children through preschool age. Under the lease, at least half the enrollment must be children from Santa Monica. A minimum of 20% of the children will receive subsidized care provided for low-income families. Some parents will be able to work at the center to qualify for reduced fees.
Remodeling plans call for additional exterior windows, French doors and a canopy leading to outdoor play areas. Inside, the first floor will be devoted to children's activity centers, with the second floor containing kitchen facilities, a large conference room, offices and a library.
Watt Commercial Development will do the renovation work at cost. Local architect Gwynne Pugh, parent of a child at Hill an' Dale's Colorado Place center, is donating his services to the remodeling project.
The new center is scheduled to open around the first of the year, Rothstein said.
Parents interested in enrolling their children at the new center can call Hill an' Dale starting in July at (213) 828-6766.
Persons wishing to send tax-deductible donations should make their checks payable to Old Firehouse Childcare Center, P.O. Box 2114, 2716 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica 90406.