A Fresh New Start For A Child Care Center in Southampton

 

A soft blue has been painted over what used to be bright yellow walls. Countless pieces of clutter have been sifted through and discarded, new floors and carpets are being installed, and a thorough cleaning is well under way.

The space that formerly housed Side By Side Child Care is undergoing a major makeover to become a fresh new space in which young children can learn and grow.

The Childcare Center of the Hamptons is slated to open in mid-February at 502 North Sea Road in Southampton. Danielle Almansa and Briana Smydo signed a lease for the space in October, after the old center closed following charges that two employees had mistreated some of the children.

The new owners and operators, who are sisters, said the new blue walls will help set a vastly different mood at the center, which is going to provide enrichment programs in addition to day care.

“The tones are soft-like, warm. We don’t want them to be stark bright,” Ms. Almansa said. “Yes, it’s going to be a kids’ facility, but it also has to be a relaxing environment for them," she said. "The decorations and decor will change it."

Ms. Almansa and Ms. Smydo said they want to create learning and playing spaces for children that are less cluttered than they were at the previous center. After inheriting all the contents of the building, they sorted through everything from furniture and toys to supplies and hundreds of books to determine what they would keep and what they would donate or sell. Everything that remains will be professionally cleaned and disinfected prior to the opening.

The rooms are falling into place, and the new owners envision what each one will look like. A multi-purpose room—it will serve as an art room, a gymnasium and a theater—will have laminate floors that look like wood, and a chalkboard that spans an entire wall has already been installed. Separate reading nooks will be situated in the corners of rooms and decorated with cozy furniture and stylish canopies.

“Think Pinterest—we love Pinterest,” Ms. Almansa said.

She and her sister had originally planned to open the new center no later than the first week of January, but ran into some bumps that forced them to push the date ahead one month.

“A lot of things weren’t maintained, so it’s just making sure that we go in [and address that],” Ms. Smydo said. “We want to fix it before we open, so we aren’t having those issues while kids are in here.”

That includes replacing carpets and floors, repairing doors, spackling and having an air vent professionally cleaned to ensure a wholesome environment.

Also to come before the opening is the installation of a building-wide surveillance system, something Side By Side did not have. Alarms will be added as well, as only the front door had been equipped with one—not any side doors leading into the playgrounds or the parking lot.

Ms. Almansa and Ms. Smydo, who are investing their own money into the renovations, said they could not yet pinpoint how much they will cost.

“It’ll be a pretty big number at the end,” Ms. Almansa said, adding that cleaning the air duct cost $10,000 on its own. “That alone is a big expense," she said. "There will be a whole new sense of air quality to the facility.”

Preregistration is scheduled to begin in mid-January. The sisters are planning a big opening celebration during which the rooms will be on display for the parents, but blocked off with ribbons.

“We want the children to have first access to the rooms—let the kids be the first ones to run in and rip all the toys off the shelves," she explained.

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