Preschool lands home in Grier Heights

by Super User
in News

An ongoing battle to rid the unsettled Grier Heights area of its criminal element could get a boost from newly announced plans to replace one of its troubled spots with a preschool for low-income families.

The Learning Collaborative, a tuition-free preschool, says it intends to buy and take up permanent residence in a Grier Heights shopping center that police say has long been a magnet for lawbreakers in the area.

It is a mutually beneficial plan, with TLC facing a June 2016 deadline to vacate its current headquarters on property owned by the Johnston YMCA on North Davidson Street. The YMCA says it needs the space for children’s programming of its own.

TLC officials are working with the nonprofit CrossRoads Corp. in Grier Heights on raising the necessary $1.3 million to purchase and renovate the 8,060-square-foot shopping center near Randolph Road. To date, $350,000 in commitments have been received.

When completed, the new site will be about 1,000 square feet bigger than TLC’s current location, allowing for about 30 additional students per year, officials said.

The plan brings resolution to a challenge that some feared might end the 27-year-old preschool, which has come to symbolize the community’s commitment to helping low-income students. TLC leaders had been searching unsuccessfully for a suitable home since 2013, when the Johnston YMCA announced its plans.

CrossRoads and other Grier Heights community leaders say they have spent six years lobbying TLC to relocate to their neighborhood. One group of residents even raised $3,500 in June to put toward the cost. CrossRoads helped create and negotiate the shopping center idea.

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