Walter Reed project signs day care, preschool operator

By Daniel J. Sernovitz, Washington Business Journal

Primrose Schools has reached a deal to open a new location in one of the new mixed-use buildings coming to the Parks at Walter Reed in Northwest D.C.

The private day care, preschool and kindergarten provider, which operates more than 400 schools across the U.S. and has big growth plans for the D.C. region, has signed a lease for just under 16,600 square feet of retail space at The Vale, a 301-unit apartment building being developed within the larger remake of the former Army medical center campus.

The Vale and a for-sale residential building called The Brooks, are slated for delivery later this year. That timeline would put the new school, with a capacity for about 200 children aged infant to 5 years, on track to open in fall 2021.

Primrose set its sights on the mixed-use development, located off Georgia Avenue in Ward 4, for a number of reasons including demand for child care services, said Travis Waldrop, vice president of real estate for Primrose. There is an estimated shortage of 2,220 child care slots in the ward, according to a study by The Bainum Family Foundation Waldrop cited.

“We believe that the Parks project is going to be a market-changer, and our success in these kinds of projects is tied, very often, to how early we can get in,” Waldrop said.

The Parks at Walter Reed is being developed by a partnership including HinesUrban Atlantic and Triden Development Group, and Primrose is only the second commercial lease inked at the site. The first was with Whole Foods Market, which plans to open a market anchoring the project’s 100,000-square-foot town center.

Primrose won’t be the only educational facility at the site, however. It will join the D.C. International School, a public charter school which opened on another part of the campus in 2017. Both will look to tap into a demand for child care services from surrounding neighbors and an estimated daytime population of 4,000 at the former Army medical campus once The Parks is fully developed.

“Primrose brings a key element of the live-work-learn-play community that we are building at The Parks,” Caroline Kenney, manager of public private partnerships at Urban Atlantic, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome this high-quality, community-minded educator to our vibrant campus.”

The Parks location adds to Primrose’s portfolio of of seven D.C. schools and another 11 in development, Waldrop said. Locations in Bethesda, Haymarket and Arlington are among its future locations, with Bethesda closest to opening in the next two months. Primrose has set its sights on the D.C. region given a wave of new development in spots such as Walter Reed and in downtown Bethesda.

“Our appetite right now is incredibly aggressive,” Waldrop said. “The return to the urban core, or pick the buzzword that you want to use, has really given a lot of opportunity to this industry as a whole and to Primrose specifically.”

Full story and images at the Washington Business Journal