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Baby Boom in Bucktown Leads to Spate of Day Care, Preschool Expansions

By Alisa Hauser | October 14, 2015 3:03pm
 A tiny lobster at Boo-Palooza.
A tiny lobster at Boo-Palooza.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — Two day care centers that serve infants as young as 6 weeks old — one that's expanding to a second location and the other having just opened near the Kennedy Expressway ramp — are the latest developments in Bucktown's baby boom.

By this summer, The Nook at 2151 W. Armitage Ave. will be opening a new facility in the shuttered Cafe Laguardia storefront at 2111 W. Armitage Ave., according to Hannah Mazzie, the center's director.

On Tuesday, Mazzie said the expansion was prompted by the fact The Nook, which serves children from 6 weeks to 36 months old, is so busy that she is turning potential customers away or putting them on a waiting list.

The Nook's second location, next to a Starbucks in a 4,000-square-foot spot that has been vacant since Cafe Laguardia closed last year, will allow for enough room for a preschool, Mazzie said.

Depending on capacity, to be determined by an upcoming city inspection, Mazzie said the space could serve as many as 60 children. The Nook will be opening a preschool next to Starbucks this summer. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Mazzie's current location, which opened last year, serves children from 48 families. The extra space will allow Mazzie to double the amount of staff, offering at least 25 local childcare jobs, she said.

Elsewhere in the area, Kaleido Kids at 2157 N. Damen Ave., just south of the Kennedy Expressway ramp, opened on Oct. 1. and also accepts infants as young as 6 weeks old, according to its website.

On Tuesday, Kaleido Kids' owner Lori Gott said she is currently serving just one client, a baby that's getting "plenty of attention," Gott joked before bringing the tyke out with an aide.

Gott said that her facility, which also offers preschool, can accommodate 50 clients.

"Most people ave already worked out their child care by fall and we had some construction delays, so we are just now getting the word out that we are here," Gott said.

Beth Sholtis, assistant program manager for the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, said obtaining local statistics on how many families there are with young children in the area can be challenging but described the number of day care facilities that have opened in the past five years are "amazing."

"What I don’t know is if there was an enormously underserved market or if the population of children has actually increased," Sholtis said.

Back in 2013, Presence Health spokeswoman Kristy Lockhart said the area was selected for a new pediatrician's office at 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave. because the neighborhood is made up of "many young professionals and young families."

Lockhart previously cited demographics for 60622 and 60647 — two of the main ZIP codes for Wicker Park and Bucktown — showing that close to one-fifth of the population is under age 14.

Lockhart said the younger population is expected to grow because there is "a large proportion of females of child-bearing age" — some 60,000 females ages 15 to 44 living in the two neighborhoods.

Existing child care centers include Willow Tree, 1800 N. Western Ave., just north of the Bloomingdale Trail overpass; The Gardner School, 1612 W. North Ave.; The Children's Learning Place, 1669-81 N. Milwaukee Ave., which opened in October 2009; and New Einsteins Academy, 1858 N. Damen, which opened in 2012.

The Jewish Leadership Council's family center at 2129 W. North Ave. is currently under construction with plans to open next fall.The just-opened Kaleido Kids at 2157 N. Damen Ave. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

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