Bright Horizons Family Solutions is completing a transition from managing a day care center exclusively for Sears Holdings employees at the corporation's Hoffman Estates headquarters to offering its services to the general public.
The final step in that transition was the village of Hoffman Estates issuing a special-use permit this week allowing the new arrangement for the 27-year-old day care center at 5334 Sears Parkway.
A gradual decline in the use of the center by Sears employees was the main reason the change was sought by both companies, Bright Horizons Regional Manager Penny Zimmerman said. Under the agreement, Bright Horizons will now lease the facility from Sears.
Some general community enrollment began about six years ago, with a definite increase in interest when the name was changed a few months ago from the Sears Child Care Center to Bright Horizons at Hoffman Estates.
The capacity of the building is 235 children. It is currently 60 percent occupied, with children of Sears employees and associates making up about half the enrollment, Zimmerman said.
"Sears still wants us to be here," she said. "We have a great relationship with Sears. We feel this is a great market for us."
Bright Horizons began marketing its expansion of service through its chamber of commerce memberships, but the new special-use permit will allow even wider marketing, Zimmerman said.
Access to Sears Parkway also will no longer be restricted to Sears employees through the use of gates.
The thought and care that went into the original design of the facility is already proving a hit with the general public, Zimmerman said.
"In 1991, what they were doing was so cutting edge," she added.
The original management firm that worked with Sears on that design was later acquired by Bright Horizons, ensuring a consistency of oversight through nearly three decades, Zimmerman said.