New-to-market childcare chain building from scratch in Innsbrook

lightbridge 1 scaled

The under-construction Lightbridge Academy in Henrico County plans to open late next year. (Jack Jacobs photo)

Seeing the need for more childcare capacity in the area, a local family is bringing a new-to-market chain to Innsbrook.

Mandy and Shawn Dhingra are planning to open the region’s first Lightbridge Academy at 4916 Dominion Blvd., where it will offer daycare, preschool, and summer camp programming.

Shawn and his father bought into the national chain as franchisees and the group is now constructing a two-story, 11,600-square-foot childcare center with an anticipated opening date of late 2025.

The facility, which broke ground in April, is being built on a 1.7-acre site. They purchased the formerly vacant property for $650,000 in 2022, according to online land records.

The Dhingras were inspired to open a Lightbridge from personal experience. They struggled to find a local childcare center with available space and the programming they wanted for their own children, who are now school aged.

mandy dhingra

Mandy Dhingra

“We had the toughest time finding someone who wasn’t already at capacity, and one we felt had a quality curriculum,” Mandy said.

The Innsbrook Lightbridge is planned to have capacity for about 170 children and will enroll children who are 5 years old and younger. The Dhingras declined to share tuition rates.

The new center plans to hire about 30 teachers.

Lightbridge estimates that the initial investment to open a location ranges from $2.6 million to $5.2 million for an owned facility and $621,000 to $938,000 for a leased location, according to the company’s website.

The Dhingras declined to share specific costs for their outpost, which will feature an outdoor playground.

Lightbridge franchisees are required to have $250,000 in liquid assets and a $750,000 net worth. The initial franchise fee is $40,000.

Norfolk-based Provost Construction is the Innsbrook project’s general contractor. Colliers Engineering & Design is the architect.

Shawn and his dad are the co-owners of the local Lightbridge franchise. Mandy will handle the center’s day-to-day operations. Shawn is an accountant at a locally based company and intends to keep that day job while he handles the books for the childcare center.

shawn dhingra

Shawn Dhingra

And while work is still underway on the Innsbrook center, the Dhingras are also eyeing the Midlothian and Tuckahoe areas for additional locations.

“I think daycare is a much needed amenity in the area and something I want to give back to the folks of Richmond,” Shawn said.

Lightbridge describes itself as one of the fastest growing childcare franchises, with more than 150 locations either open or in the works across 15 states, according to a news release.

The company is headquartered in New Jersey and was founded in 1997. It began to franchise in 2011.

The company’s other Virginia locations are in Virginia Beach and Manassas and run by different operators.

lightbridge 1 scaled

The under-construction Lightbridge Academy in Henrico County plans to open late next year. (Jack Jacobs photo)

Seeing the need for more childcare capacity in the area, a local family is bringing a new-to-market chain to Innsbrook.

Mandy and Shawn Dhingra are planning to open the region’s first Lightbridge Academy at 4916 Dominion Blvd., where it will offer daycare, preschool, and summer camp programming.

Shawn and his father bought into the national chain as franchisees and the group is now constructing a two-story, 11,600-square-foot childcare center with an anticipated opening date of late 2025.

The facility, which broke ground in April, is being built on a 1.7-acre site. They purchased the formerly vacant property for $650,000 in 2022, according to online land records.

The Dhingras were inspired to open a Lightbridge from personal experience. They struggled to find a local childcare center with available space and the programming they wanted for their own children, who are now school aged.

mandy dhingra

Mandy Dhingra

“We had the toughest time finding someone who wasn’t already at capacity, and one we felt had a quality curriculum,” Mandy said.

The Innsbrook Lightbridge is planned to have capacity for about 170 children and will enroll children who are 5 years old and younger. The Dhingras declined to share tuition rates.

The new center plans to hire about 30 teachers.

Lightbridge estimates that the initial investment to open a location ranges from $2.6 million to $5.2 million for an owned facility and $621,000 to $938,000 for a leased location, according to the company’s website.

The Dhingras declined to share specific costs for their outpost, which will feature an outdoor playground.

Lightbridge franchisees are required to have $250,000 in liquid assets and a $750,000 net worth. The initial franchise fee is $40,000.

Norfolk-based Provost Construction is the Innsbrook project’s general contractor. Colliers Engineering & Design is the architect.

Shawn and his dad are the co-owners of the local Lightbridge franchise. Mandy will handle the center’s day-to-day operations. Shawn is an accountant at a locally based company and intends to keep that day job while he handles the books for the childcare center.

shawn dhingra

Shawn Dhingra

And while work is still underway on the Innsbrook center, the Dhingras are also eyeing the Midlothian and Tuckahoe areas for additional locations.

“I think daycare is a much needed amenity in the area and something I want to give back to the folks of Richmond,” Shawn said.

Lightbridge describes itself as one of the fastest growing childcare franchises, with more than 150 locations either open or in the works across 15 states, according to a news release.

The company is headquartered in New Jersey and was founded in 1997. It began to franchise in 2011.

The company’s other Virginia locations are in Virginia Beach and Manassas and run by different operators.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

They were fortunate to find such a site at this price in Innsbrook. The residential rezonings for MF uses have driven office park land values to such extremes that many needed commercial uses have found it impossible to be sited. Good luck to the Dingras!

David Adler
David Adler
1 month ago

Wishing them good luck for a much needed project. It will be interesting to see how the traffic pattern works – 170 families bringing kids there plus 30 teachers. I have driven back there and it isn’t easy.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Adler
Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Adler

Good news is teachers come early and with daycare/pre-K kids come throughout the day (with some peak times) and some only go for 1/2 days but it is not generally like a school that all kids arrive and leave at the same time.