Wilkes University Announces Plans for 116 South Main Street

by Web Services
Interior rendering of the South Main Street Early Learning Center from Fancy Parsley Architecture and Design.

Building Blocks Learning Center is set to open their new South Main Street Early Learning Academy this fall.

Wilkes University has announced the next phase of the development of 116 South Main Street. Building Blocks Learning Center will open their new South Main Street Early Learning Academy on the first floor of the multi-story building. They will do so as D&D Realty Group retains ownership of the property in a sales agreement with the University.

The new South Main Street Early Learning Academy marks Building Blocks Learning Center’s 13th location in the region. They anticipate the center will accommodate approximately 120 children from infants (six weeks old) to prekindergarten. 

In an email to campus, Wilkes President Greg Cant explained that the introduction of an early learning center in close proximity to campus realizes a long-held university goal. 

“For many years, we have contemplated campus-based childcare for those in our community who are parents or caregivers. Under this new agreement with D&D, Building Blocks Learning Center will provide affordable, convenient and quality care to our employees and students, making a Wilkes education even more attainable,” said Cant. 

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Wilkes University and establish a Building Blocks Learning Center on South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Together, we will establish a learning academy that offers a range of early education programs, catering to our local community’s childcare needs along with nurturing future educators within the Wilkes community,” said Zubeen Saeed, President/CEO Building Blocks Learning Center. 

Wilkes plans to partner with the South Main Street Early Learning Academy in several ways: 

  • Discounted child care will be offered to Wilkes students, faculty and staff.
  • Hands-on learning opportunities will be available to students in a variety of academic majors, most notably education. The proximity of the center will allow for observation and field hours to be conducted conveniently while enhancing the learning experience for those preparing to become early childhood educators. 
  • Wilkes degrees and professional development programs in education will benefit Building Blocks Learning Center and their teachers. The Wilkes TEACH program offers a fully online and affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree for those working in early childhood or day care centers. 

Continued Saeed, “This facility will serve as a comprehensive childcare center, providing programs from infants to a Department of Education licensed prekindergarten program. We take pride in being a leading provider that fosters children’s academic, social and emotional development. Our dedicated educators ignite a passion for learning in all our students, and we are thrilled to continue this endeavor through this exceptional partnership.”

In November 2022, D&D Realty Group leased the second, third and fourth floors to develop 36 high-end apartments for working professionals. At the time, University officials were contemplating a variety of blended uses for the first floor that serve the campus and community. Unanticipated building repairs and subsequent construction costs made the sale of the building most beneficial to the project.

“We have been highly focused on carefully managing our fiscal resources. As much as we would like to fulfill our vision for this property, we will not do so in a way that poses a financial burden to the University,” Cant. “Selling the building allows us to relieve the University of those costs while achieving our goal for South Main Street.”

To date, nearly half of the apartments at 116 South Main Street have been leased. Apartment occupancy will begin in August with the entirety of the building completed this fall.

“We continue to see consistent demand for quality market-rate housing in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  We believe the development of 116 South Main not only enhances the Northampton & Main corridor tremendously, but also serves as an example of what can happen when neighbors work together on a collective vision,” said Nick Dye of D&D Realty Group.

Wilkes will retain ownership of Grant Alley, located next to 116, and enhancements are underway. New curbs and walkways, lighting and associated streetscape amenities will be completed in September. 

More information about the South Main Street Early Learning Academy can be found at buildingblockslearningcenter.com/wilkes

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