The plans for Wonderscope Children’s Museum at Red Bridge Shopping Center have changed.
La Petite no longer in the picture
School closes May 18. Parents scramble to find child care.
By John Sharp
La Petite Academy at Red Bridge Shopping Center is closing on Friday, May 18, which clears the way for parking, landscaping and better visibility (and perhaps a different building layout and configuration) for the coming Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City.
Owen Buckley, president of Lane4 Property Group which owns and operates the Center, said his company intends to demolish the La Petite building and is looking forward to working with Wonderscope on the final design plans for its new facility which has been planned for south of La Petite.
Roxane Hill, Wonderscope executive director, said her organization is moving ahead with construction plans for its new facility.
“We’re excited about having more parking, but disappointed that La Petite’s closing since we know that will be difficult for parents,” she said.
La Petite announced the closing to parents on April 4 and offered to honor their current tuition rates if they transfer their children to another of its facilities and to transfer their paid registration fees for the school year. The closest La Petite facilities are at 11114 Antioch Rd. and at 8621 W. 96h St., both in Overland Park, that are approximately 6.4 and 7.3 miles away respectively, according to the company.
Most parents were unhappy with the closing. One such parent who was leaving the facility with two children in her arms and one running in a different direction said it would be difficult to find new child care within the given 45 day time frame. “It’s very hard to find child care so quickly especially for infants,” said Melanie, who chose not to give her last name.
“This was a difficult decision, said Lydia Cisaruk, La Petite director of communications. “We’ve been working with our landlord as plans proceed for introducing a new children’s museum – a welcome addition to the neighborhood.”
“Over the past few months, as the construction project has progressed, we evaluated many business factors and weren’t able to ensure a viable way for us to continue to operate here long term according to our high standards of care,” she said.
Rev. David McDaniel, pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church whose one-year-old daughter is enrolled at La Petite, said he hopes the Center will be able to attract another high quality day care as soon as possible.
“Having Wonderscope and the library right there makes Red Bridge a prime location for a day care. This is a missing piece of the puzzle. I can’t think of another service that would be more needed,” he said.
McDaniel noted that both parents in many young families now work, and finding high quality day care is not easy, with good facilities often having a five to six-month waiting list.
“If we want to make sure this is perceived as a welcoming community for young families such as the families of many of the new employees at Cerner and Burns & McDonnell, we have to provide the services they need,” he said.
Wonderscope is projected to draw 100,000 to 200,000 visitors to the Center during its first year of operation expected to begin in the spring of 2019. Buckley said the Museum will be an anchor for the Center, much like big box stores have been for other shopping centers.