Center for Early Education (CEE) in West Hollywood has announced plans to grow its campus over the next three years. A initial draft study for the expansion project details the school’s plans to modernize the campus and provide new outdoor recreation space, all while maintaining current student enrollment.
By redeveloping the school’s current site at 563 N. Alfred St. and expanding to a neighboring space on Alfred Street and adjacent street front properties on North La Cienega Boulevard and Clinton Avenue, CEE would develop 67,000 square feet of new and renovated buildings and retain 39,200 square feet of existing building area. In addition to replacing “inefficient” and “outdated” school facilities, the expansion would improve the school’s academic, athletic and administrative facilities and significantly expand its outdoor play areas, according to the initial draft study.
“We’ve been planning this for the past three years. We really want to make sure we think through everything very carefully and intentionally to understand all needs that should be considered,” said Reveta Bowers, head of school at CEE.
The campus is currently 1.45 acres, and with the expansion will grow to 2.32 acres. It will involve the demolition of one two-story and one three-story educational-use buildings, and the construction of two three-story buildings in their place. One of the buildings to be replaced is the oldest on campus, built in 1965.The buildings currently contain the school’s early childhood education facilities and play yard, school administration, classrooms, staff day care and rooftop play courts. They will be replaced with updated versions of the existing facilities, in addition to a 6,000 square foot gymnasium, workrooms and specialty labs. New rooftop play courts will also include a shaded outdoor lunch area, and the school’s athletic field will be expanded to the south.
The two commercial structures on the north side of La Cienega Boulevard will become the new kindergarten through sixth grade building, and two commercial buildings on southern La Cienega Boulevard will be demolished to create a surface parking lot, utility yard and trash area, according to Rachel Dimond, senior planner for the city of West Hollywood.
“We will still have the same age students, same mission and purpose and same programmatic goals – but with new facilities,” Bowers said.
Bowers said some of the updated labs would be similar to the innovation lab the school built two years ago. Many of the features of the innovation lab, including smart walls and flexible instruction space, will also be duplicated in the new classrooms.
“Spaces needed for educating children have changed with new programming over the years. We will be able to offer more cooperative experiences, different uses of technology and diverse hands-on instruction,” Bowers said.
Approximately 52 parking spaces would be added to the school’s existing 132 spaces with a below-grade garage and the new surface lot. CEE is also proposing the creation of a new alley on one of the lots to provide access to La Cienega Boulevard from an existing alley on campus. Both Bowers and Dimond do not anticipate an increase in traffic due to the expansion.
“We have a traffic management plan that works very well for our school. A lot of kids carpool to school, and there are fewer trips to and from the school than when we last did construction in 2001,” Bowers said.
Bowers said the new space will allow for the expansion of CEE’s parent’s education program, grandparent’s education program and professional development programs that are important to the school’s teachers and educators. She added that classes will continue during the construction, as they have developed a phasing plan to keep everyone on campus. Educators intend to incorporate changes to the school’s architecture and construction into their curriculum as well.
The school has worked with West Hollywood Planning Department since April. The project’s staff report will be released on Oct. 29, and will go before the planning commission on Nov. 5. According to Dimond, the report will delve into project details and analysis of the project along with resolutions that will be required. If approved by the planning commission, the project will go before the city council in January.
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