Nashville’s new mayor wants downtown developers to consider the growing need for daycare in the central business district. Just two childcare centers exist in the core of the city where 57,000 people now work, up from 46,000 in 2008.
In total, there are roughly 150 daycare slots for infants through pre-schoolers. And at First Baptist, 25 families are on the waiting list. McKendree Methodist has a 16-month backlog for infants.
Mayor Megan Barry says companies are beginning to make their wishes known, so she's telling developers child care "is a key deliverable for Nashville.”
“As we attract more jobs downtown, as we have more families who are living downtown, the opportunity — as we are building new spaces to put in and create high-quality daycare — I think is essential,” she said.
Barry received applause earlier this month when she told the same thing to the Downtown Rotary Club.
The trouble is that escalating property values downtown make it even less attractive to build daycare space. By law, it has to be located on the first floor of any building and have access to a play area.
Cindy Ligon, who directs McKendree's program, said she'd like to be part of the solution.
"Over the past couple of years we have begun conversations with folks about creating satellite programs," Ligon said in an email. "It is our hope that we will form partnerships and expand care options in the city."
During this year’s campaign for mayor, candidate Jeremy Kane proposed offering special incentives for developers who incorporate child care space into their plans.