A child care center touted as the first business-sponsored center in the Washington area will open Oct. 15 in Tysons Corner, seven weeks ahead of schedule.
The center will be an attempt to fill a void of day care facilities amid the more than 15 million square feet of office and commercial space in Tysons Corner. It will have room for 87 children from 6 months to 5 years old and be available for parents working in the area.
The Tysons Corner PAL Child Care Center will open at the Tysons Pond office complex at 1600 Spring Hill Rd. The 4,000-square-foot center is near a pond and 28 acres of open space where the children will be able to play.
"When you think of Tysons Corner, day care is not something that leaps to mind there," said Cheri Sheridan, president of PAL, a Maryland-based company that will operate the Tysons center.
"We are very excited," said Frank McCarthy, executive vice president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, who is president and chairman of the board of the Tysons Corner PAL, the group overseeing the day care center.
"Just the knowledge that their child is a few blocks away is a big comfort," said McCarthy, who is also president of Tysons Transportation Association Inc. (Tytran), an organization of businesses in Tysons that raised funds for the center.
The work leading to the opening of the center began about two years ago after Rep. Frank G. Wolf (R-Va.) approached Earle Williams, president of BDM, a defense contractor, who was then president of Tytran.
After some discussion among Tytran members, many of whom were reluctant to get involved in something as foreign as day care, the group hired a consultant in the fall of 1985 to investigate the need for child care in Tysons Corner. The study, conducted by Sheridan, found that the need was overwhelming.
"We determined that there were about 800 kids that had parents working in Tysons Corner," Sheridan said.
But in making her report, Sheridan went a step further.
She told Tytran members how they could start a day care center and not run into problems with company liability.
Tytran members then formed a nonprofit corporation and began raising money for the center, collecting $100,000 in two months. They also began hunting for a developer.
Rouse & Associates agreed to donate space for a center at offices at 1660 International Dr., but that deal fell through when Rouse ran into delays on getting project approval from the county. A new developer had to be found.
"I had many developers who didn't return phone calls," Sheridan said. Tysons Pond was chosen for its excellent location, but its owner hesitated.
"At first I had apprehensions about possible conflicts about children's uses and normal business uses," said Ed Romano, president of Westerra Corp., which owns Tysons Pond. "But the more I researched it, the more comfortable I became.
"It's not a situation where we're going to have unsupervised toddlers running around in our common areas," he said. "It's just really neat to have the human element of having small children."
Romano is donating about $200,000 in construction costs and rent. Locating the center at Tysons Pond, which, unlike the Rouse project, was already built, provided an additional windfall, allowing the day care center to open seven months earlier than planned.
Sixty-six spaces for children have been reserved by Tytran companies. But employes of other Tysons firms may sign up also. The costs of enrolling children in the center will range from $81 to $110 a week.
"It may not meet the needs of all the children in Tysons Corner," Sheridan said, "but it sure . . . does something."