A new player in the local childcare landscape is making its entry into the Richmond metro market.
The Nest Schools plans to open in early November at 7147 Stonewall Parkway, company spokeswoman Brittany Madonna said this week.
Nest bought the property from the owners of All Aboard Child Development Center, who ran the daycare there for more than 24 years before they shut it down in early 2020.
Nest offers daycare programs for children between six weeks and 12 years old. The company’s Mechanicsville location is expected to have capacity for 200 children and pre-enrollment is underway, Madonna said. She declined to share tuition rates.
The company expects to spend around $1 million on renovations and other expenses tied to the opening of the early-education center, Madonna said.
“The Richmond area fits our expansion model because it’s a growing area attracting many new families that would be seeking higher-end quality childcare and early childhood education,” Madonna said in an email. “We are always looking for opportunities to expand our footprint within each region and state that we have schools. Currently, our plan is to continue to grow through acquisitions.”
Nest was founded in 2020 and currently has 35 locations, all corporate-owned. Madonna said a director for the Mechanicsville school hasn’t been hired yet.
Nest bought the 14,000-square-foot facility for $1.2 million. The property was most recently valued at $1.5 million, according to online Hanover land records. The deal was recorded with the county in July.
Zach Hernandez and Nathan Shor of S. L. Nusbaum Realty Co. represented the seller.
Kelly Lewis, her father Michael Strum and her mother opened All Aboard in 1997.
Lewis said that the business shuttered in April 2020 in part because they wanted to spend more time with family. The onset of COVID-19 expedited pre-pandemic plans to wind down the business.
“We never really set a timeline on how long we would be doing it, but we got to the point where running the business took a lot of time and energy. We loved every minute of it, but we decided as a family we were at a point where we’d like to move on,” Lewis said. “It was very heartbreaking to make that decision. We felt like we were part of the journey for these kids and their families.”
Lewis said her father heard from others in the community that there was demand for a daycare in the area and that led to them starting the business. He handled the books while Lewis stepped away from a previous career to be the center’s director.
“He kept hearing people say Mechanicsville could use a daycare. There were choices but there could be more,” Lewis said. “Basically, how it all started was his vision from hearing feedback. I decided to leave what I was doing and do this.”
At its peak in the mid-2000s, All Aboard had more than 350 children enrolled in its programming, Lewis said. All Aboard sold an adjacent property dedicated to school-age children in 2017 to focus on programming for younger children.
The 7147 Stonewall Parkway property hit the market in July 2020 and while there were offers from a variety of buyers, Nest won out because it was going to use the property for childcare and had an ethos that appealed to Lewis and her parents.
“Looking into their mission and values and principles, it seemed like it was meant to be,” Lewis said.
The upcoming Nest location is among the latest childcare businesses to set up shop in the region.
Celebree School opened its first Richmond-area location this year. Also in the works locally is a new outpost of The Goddard School at Regency. A company spokesman said this week that the new Goodard location is expected to open later this year.