Local franchisees plan to open a private preschool on South 16th Street in Wilmington, aiming to expand from there.
Primrose School of Wilmington at Medical Center is tentatively expected to open at 1401 S. 16th St. by late October, said Samantha Martin, the local Primrose franchisee along with her husband, Rob.
Samantha Martin said Primrose has 400 schools nationwide, but the Primrose School of Wilmington at Medical Center will be a first for the Port City.
"Rob and I moved here [in 2016] from Atlanta, and we have a young son who was 3 at the time and I was pregnant with our second son. We got to Wilmington, and we hadn't thought about lining up child care before we got here," Samantha Martin said. "I was really surprised at the limited options. Thankfully, we were able to find a place, but that was surprising to us."
In her career as a small business lender, Samantha Martin said she has worked with various preschool franchises and franchisees across the country to start new locations.
"I think it's a good business model, and I think there's a big demand here for high-quality early education," she said.
Primrose, which is enrolling now, has an education-based preschool program for 6-week-old children up to 4- and 5-year-olds. Services include full-time and part-time child care and afterschool and summer camp programs (which accept kids up to age 12).
The preschool is expected to have about 25 employees, and the school's director is Bonnie Perchard.
Primrose has a proprietary curriculum that's provided to teachers, Samantha Martin said.
Additionally, Primrose emphasizes healthy food. The Wilmington location will have a full kitchen and a chef, she said.
"Primrose has a dietitian on staff at the franchise level, and they create recipes the school will choose from," Samantha Martin said. "Chefs handle preparing all of that food. Fresh fruit and vegetables are served every day, whole grain breads and no juice."
Martin Properties One LLC bought 1401 S. 16th St., which was previously a preschool, in April for $1.16 million from G & R Associates, according to property tax records.
"We are undergoing a complete renovation of the entire facility right now," Samantha Martin said, including new windows, new flooring, a new HVAC system and a new playground.
"Everything is going to be brand new," she said.
The contractor for the project is Chambliss & Rabil Contractors Inc., and the Martins' bank is TD Bank.
Samantha Martin said the preschool's specific name aims to distinguish it from another preschool the Martins plan to open, which would likely be located between Ogden and Porters Neck. Real estate broker Gardner Noble of Wilmington-based Trask Land Co. is working with the Martins on the future school site.