Rob Parsons has long developed properties that feed bellies, but now he's happy to develop one that will feed young minds.
The Nashua developer, known for creating several Popeyes restaurants in the region -- including those in Chelmsford and Nashua -- is now working on the Primrose School of Chelmsford.
He hopes to open the 15,000-square-foot private childcare and preschool facility, located at the corner of North and Parkhurst roads, in September.
Parsons, who was born in Lowell and attended UMass Lowell, sold most of his Popeyes locations about two years ago, save for his most recent restaurant in Nashua.
"After selling them, I had to look at what I was going to do next, and I researched something that I could develop and utilize my development experience as well as the operation of a franchise business model," he said. "Being a father of a 6-year-old and a 7-month-old and having some experience with the childcare industry, I looked at it and saw that there was really a need and a hole that wasn't being served for quality childcare."
That's what brought Parsons to Primrose School, which he said is "far and away, the best in its category." It takes a balanced approach to learning, with a quality curriculum focused around "purposeful play," Parsons said.
The Georgia-based, franchise-operated private school has more than 350 locations in 29 states.
Chelmsford will be the fourth Massachusetts location, following Burlington, Natick and Andover.
The $5.3 million project includes the renovation of the former Church of Christ building, a 10,000-square-foot addition and a large outdoor playground area for each age group. North Point Construction of Hudson, N.H., is the construction contractor.
The building will be modeled after typical Primrose Schools, but will be a bit larger than other locations at just under 16,000 square feet, Parsons said.
The existing building will hold four classrooms, a kitchen and teachers' lounge, he said. The addition will hold 10 classrooms and a reception area with a grand entrance with a cathedral ceiling.
Parsons said he plans to apply for a license for 189 full-time equivalent enrollees, from infant and toddler daycare to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten education.
Because the school will open too late for kindergarten to start this fall, he said he'll begin with the programs for the younger age groups. He hopes to add kindergarten the following year.
Parsons' 6-year-old daughter, Amelia, will be too old to attend, but his infant son, Alexander, will be the first to enroll.
"I can't wait for him to be able to walk in here at some point in the near future," he said.
Parsons said he has not established tuition rates yet, but they will be "fairly consistent" with other area Primrose School locations and competitive within the existing childcare market.
For more information about Primrose School of Chelmsford, call 978-710-6123 or visit primroseschools.com.