Construction Begins on Child Development Center


 By Ashley Fahey

Mar 17, 2017, 12:51pm EDT
CBJ website


Construction has begun on a new child-development facility at The Renaissance public-housing community.

The Howard R. Levine Child Development Center, expected to be complete in October, will serve 152 children, from infants to five-year-olds. The project is the latest for the Renaissance West Community Initiative, a nonprofit leading the transformation of the former Boulevard Homes public-housing site at West Boulevard and Billy Graham Parkway.

The child-development center is intended to help address potential achievement gaps before students enter the new pre-K-8 school at The Renaissance. Its other stated intention is to provide a stable child-care environment for parents working to improve their socioeconomic situations.

The center will be operated by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. All lead teachers at the center will have bachelor’s degrees and the facility will use an “evidence-based curriculum” that focuses on healthy child development, according to RWCI.

“Our goal is to create opportunity through neighborhood revitalization, and education is critical to that effort,” said William “Mack” McDonald Jr., CEO of RWCI, in a statement. “Thanks to the tremendous contributions of our supporters and community partners like the Y, this new facility will provide working parents with high-quality child care while ensuring that our youngest students develop the skills they need.”

Nikki Hildebrand, formerly the early and lower school director at Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf, Iowa, has been appointed as executive director. Hildebrand earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from Emory University and has more than 18 years of experience.

Local YMCA officials agreed to spearhead the child-development center effort at The Renaissance after extensive research of a similar project in Atlanta.

“We spent more than a year benchmarking best-in-class early-learning centers across the nation,” said Todd Tibbets, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, in a statement. “The success of our literacy and educational programming is determined by clearly-defined objectives and outcome measurements. As a Y, we hold ourselves accountable for our role in helping kids in need transcend disadvantages as we create a pathway for every child to achieve in school, life and career.”

RWCI is undergoing a $15 million comprehensive capital campaign to fund construction and operating costs for the center as well as complementary programs and services at The Renaissance and surrounding neighborhoods. Funds raised include a $1 million lead gift from Howard Levine, and nearly $5 million in New Markets Tax Credits and more than $1.5 million in NMTC equity provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“It’s important that we come together as a community to ensure that people across Charlotte have access to the resources they need to support their families,” said Charles Bowman, Charlotte and North Carolina market president for Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), in a statement. “At Bank of America, we’re proud to support the efforts of organizations like Renaissance West Community Initiative through nearly half a million dollars in philanthropic giving as well as the financing provided to bring this center to life. Together we can put people on a path to success and build a thriving economy in our city.”

South State Bank is providing $4 million in construction financing for the project. Other contributors to the child-development center include The Cato Corp., the C.D. Spangler Foundation, the Charlotte Housing Authority, the Dickson Foundation, Lynn and Brian Good, Jerry and Rosalind Richardson, SteelFab, the Van Every Foundation, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Foundation, which is the grant-making arm of the Foundation For The Carolinas. Hugh McColl Jr. serves as honorary chair of the RWCI’s capital campaign.

CHA was awarded a $20.9 million HOPE VI grant in 2010 to revitalize the Boulevard Homes site. Redeveloped by local affordable-housing developer Laurel Street Residential, The Renaissance includes 334 units of mixed-income housing, a community center and a pre-K to 8 school.

Ashley Fahey covers real estate and development for the Charlotte Business Journal.