- August 12, 2021
FORT MYERS — A nonprofit organization working to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood recently kicked off its $11.8 million project to construct an early learning center.
The Heights Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 18 for the facility, which will be a 36,000-square-foot, 3-story building on Hagie Drive in Harlem Heights, according to a news release. It will serve as the new home for the GLAD Kids Early Learning Center, serving children from birth to 5 years, and the Harlem Heights Community Charter School, an elementary school with grades K-5.
Owen-Ames-Kimball is the general contractor for the project. RG Architects designed the building and TDM Consulting is the civil engineering and site planning firm. “The education center is the result of nearly 20 years of work in the Harlem Heights neighborhood,” Jan-Erik Hustrulid, chair of The Heights Foundation board of directors, says in the release.
In addition to classroom space, the building will have a large multipurpose room with a capacity to serve meals for 180 students. The building will include music and art labs designed with access to an outdoor roof terrace to encourage arts exploration and interaction with the environment. The terrace will also host aquaponics and hydroponics gardens. An outdoor play pavilion is included as part of the design for physical education activities.
Roughly 82% of the project’s budget was raised in a silent campaign, the release says.
The Heights Foundation merged with Gladiolus Learning and Development (GLAD Kids) in January 2019. GLAD Kids is housed in an older building in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. Prior to the merger, GLAD had started a capital campaign to build a new building, and donors agreed to fund the new building on The Heights Foundation campus that will house both GLAD Kids and the Heights Charter School.