Phoenix Needs More Early Education and Care Options

by Travis Waldrop

In this fastest-growing city in the United States, developers have been bullish in Phoenix’s residential and commercial real estate markets. But this boom begs the question: In a sea of oversaturation, how do they attract residents and customers to their properties? The answer lies in a new concept: Live-Work-Play-Learn.

Last year, the federal government cut millions of dollars in preschool funding in more than 70 Arizona school districts. This, combined with the fact that nearly half the people in Arizona live in childcare deserts, has created a serious, unmet demand for early education and care options throughout the Phoenix metro area.

Although the numbers may seem grim, this need for childcare is an untapped opportunity for Phoenix-based real estate owners and developers to create Live-Work-Play-Learn communities.

Millennials are the most active generation of homebuyers in the nation, and, with one million millennials becoming new moms each year, this age cohort considers proximity to quality education a top priority when deciding whether to purchase a home. They also have a propensity toward renting — more so than previous generations — and beyond the perfect floorplan, they search for amenities that match their lifestyle when considering where to rent. By incorporating early education and care into their projects, developers can break through the noise with amenities that consumers truly care about.

Moreover, millennials reportedly do 60 percent of their shopping online, making it difficult to attract this generation to brick-and-mortar stores. Early education and care centers combat this phenomenon, acting as a strong anchor for other businesses by driving consistent foot traffic and steady revenue streams — for instance, parents frequent Primrose Schools twice a day, five days a week (for pick-up and drop-off). Plus, unlike other brick-and-mortar services that have fallen at the hands of e-commerce giants, early education and care face virtually no internet competition.

Moreover, between growing industry numbers (early education and care is currently a $56 billion industry) and the fact that these schools can often fit into imperfect spaces such as hard-to-fill office and retail space, early education and care is a great way for owners to secure long-term, quality tenants benefiting the entire community.

Education is an essential building block to any thriving community. In order to continue attracting and retaining residents, real estate owners and developers in Phoenix must support a Live-Work-Play-Learn lifestyle.  

Travis Waldrop is vice president of Real Estate for Primrose Schools.

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