A unique tenant is cropping up in mixed-use sites around the U.S. Primrose Schools, a private early education school, is expanding across the country and is seeking new locations, including within the San Francisco Bay Area.
While Primrose’s portfolio consists of a large amount of ground-up development, more schools are appearing in leased space within mixed-use development, providing a valuable amenity.
“We’ve been building schools in both suburban and urban neighborhoods from New York to California in order to meet the needs of families where they live and work,” Primrose senior vice president of development Bill Pierquet said.
Primrose has about 342 schools open in 27 states; about 10%, or 35 to 40 schools, are in leased space, according to Pierquet.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Primrose Schools identified 40 to 60 sites that would be ideal for new schools. It has one school open in Pleasanton and two under construction in Livermore and San Jose, according to Pierquet. He expects five schools to open by the end of 2018.
Primrose has a strong presence in Texas with 50 schools in Dallas and 100 schools throughout the state. It also has a strong presence in Atlanta and the South. It will open its first schools in Arkansas and Oregon this year and is trying to get into Manhattan. Primrose expects to have 480 schools open by 2020.
“At some point, you run out of growth opportunities. Our thoughts are there are lots of opportunities throughout the country in major areas we have not achieved any type of growth, like the San Francisco Bay Area. That is a prime market for us to develop,” Pierquet said.
In urban areas, Primrose targets areas near employment centers such as large office complexes, mixed-use developments, universities or hospitals. Sites must be 8K SF to 15K SF on the first floor above grade or second floor and have at least 6K SF of outdoor space for a secure playground. In suburban areas, Primrose looks for places where it can build a 12K SF building with an 8K SF playground. It can also convert commercial spaces of 8K SF to 15K SF into schools.
Primrose prefers markets with high density and looks for places with families with children through age five within a three-mile radius, a highly educated population and healthy demand for high-quality education providers. Schools are owned by franchisees and Primrose needs a franchisee willing to invest and run the school before it will build a location.
Primrose also is building a prototype for a smaller building of about 11K SF. It would use less costly finishes and have a revised exterior design to save on cost of development. It could be a more viable option for small towns. Plans are expected within the next few months and Pierquet expects a fully functioning prototype by the end of the year.