BLOOMINGTON - A 2-year-old day care center on Bloomington's east side plans to nearly double in size by Sept. 1.
Little Jewels Learning Center owner Julie Dobski plans to add 7,500 square feet to the existing 10,000-square-foot building at 4117 E. Oakland Ave. The foundation for the $610,000 addition has already been dug.
"We have been blessed. We have quality teachers. We've not had a lot of turnover in the two years we've been open. We also have a good location," said Dobski of the growing east-side area.
While many of the center's 100 children live in the Twin Cities, several come from Lexington, Carlock, LeRoy and Colfax. The center will be able to care for 60 more children when the addition is completed.
Dobski plans to hire an additional 15 employees to join an existing staff of 32 full- and part-time caregivers.
"We'll have four additional classrooms, giving us two for each level from ages 6 weeks to 5 years," said Dobski, who owns nine McDonald's restaurants in the Twin Cities and McLean with her husband, Bob. "Right now, we can't even move the 2-year-olds into the 3-year-old room. It's their home away from home."
Children staying at the day care center will be able to run in a larger play area this fall. Water sprayers are being installed in a rear play area.
Once the addition is completed, the site will still contain about 2½ to 3 acres of surrounding property. Dobski noted she would like to build similar facilities in Normal and on Bloomington's west side.
"But land is very expensive. It's easier to add on, but I think new centers could be a reality in a couple of years," said Dobski.
Little Jewels opened in August 2004. The center features six classrooms, a large kitchen, conference room, faculty room and play area. The center was named after Dobski's nickname, and because she considers each child a precious jewel.