A new future envisioned
Childcare Discovery Center holds groundbreaking
When Tammy McNeil, owner of Childcare Discovery Center, found out that her center, located at 2329 First Ave. S., would have to relocate, she was devastated.
She and her family had invested thousands of dollars to increase space at the facility and revamp the play area of the day care center. Then she was informed in 2020 that another entity purchased the building.
“We put a lot of money, blood sweat and tears into the building,” said McNeil, who has devoted much of her life to providing child care. “We never even imagined that we would ever have to move. When you lease a commercial building, you assume you’ll be there for the long haul, hence why we put all of our savings back into the building. We have well over a million dollars in leasehold over the last 20 years we’ve been here.”
But when Childcare Discovery Center received a $734,837 Iowa Workforce Development grant to help its effort to build a new facility, McNeil was filled with hope.
“Boy was I in shock when I heard how much I received,” McNeil said. “I think I cried for at least a month anytime anyone would bring it up or congratulate me. I can’t even find the words for how appreciative I am for this grant. It really made the difference of hoping I could continue to offer the same quality of care, to knowing I could continue the same quality.
“I did not want to do this project if any of the quality would be affected by the amount of additional costs we will have. This grant made a huge difference in my overall excitement of this project. I can’t thank the governor enough for this opportunity and the other entities who were involved.”
To celebrate the future child care center, a groundbreaking ceremony was held near 14th Avenue North and 32nd Street on Friday. The future site of the center is located just north of the Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center. About 30 people attended.
“It’s been a very long road,” McNeil said during the ceremony. “But things happen for a reason. Thanks everyone for your support.”
McNeil added that the employees of Childcare Discovery are “the super heroes that make it happen.”
The current location of ChildCare Discovery appears likely to be demolished. The new building will consist of 16,400 square feet on one level. It will serve up to 250 children.
“With our current facility we had to build around what was already there — making it hard to use some of the space as child care slots,” McNeil said. “Being able to make our own floor plan from scratch, we can now use all the child care slots that will be available. We will have three separate play yards — infant, preschool and school age.”
The new location will also have two extra offices and a front reception area.
“We will have a larger curriculum room along with an upstairs area for storage and camera equipment,” McNeil said. “We will have bathrooms now in between every classroom. Amazing after all of these years saying I wish we had bathrooms in here, or I wish this was closer, now we are able to make that happen.”
McNeil also received a tax increment financing agreement with the city.
“There is nothing located on the land we bought right now,” McNeil said. “With us building here, the city will now receive property taxes from us. The city will refund a portion of our property taxes that we pay to them, back to us each year. We chose this land because we could not afford any other land around the community. The owner of this land was kind enough to sell it to us at a reasonable cost.”
McNeil offered special thank yous to: Sharon Hotz, of Northwest Bank; Jerimiah Schlegel, of Fort & Schlegel; Gery Cook, of Regency Realtors, State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-FD; and Jim Kersten, vice president of external relations and government affairs.
“They all played an instrumental role in making this happen,” she said.
An exact timeline for the new center has not yet been revealed.