IFA Member, Goddard Systems Seeks Space for up to 30 New Preschools in Massachusetts

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Goddard Systems, the franchisor of the Goddard School network of preschool centers, is seeking to expand in Greater Boston and is scouting potential sites with a local commercial real estate brokerage.

Joseph Schumacher, the company’s CEO, said the company plans to open about a dozen schools in Greater Boston in the next few years and as many as 30 by 2019. Today, there are 11 Goddard schools in the Bay State, from Auburn to Walpole, as well as two others in southern New Hampshire.

“Our franchisees in the Boston area have been successful, they’ve done well, the region’s population continues to grow, you’ve got an affluent, educationally oriented population and those are the folks who generally become our franchisees,” Schumacher said. “One of our greatest challenges is finding the right site in the right place. We typically needed 1.5 acres of land and our typical school is about 8,000 square feet, with about 10,000 square feet for an outdoor play area.”

In Boston proper, Schumacher said he hopes to build in the South End and Charlestown. The company also has plans for schools in Brookline, Cohasset, Lincoln and Cambridge, but has not yet found sites. So far, Schumacher has identified new locations on Derby Street in Hingham and at the Hood Business Park in Charlestown.

The Pennsylvania-based company, which licenses over 400 franchised schools with 50,000 students in 35 states, is seeking franchisees for each location. The cost to open a franchise is about $650,000 for leased space and can run as high as $2.5 million for a deal that includes a land purchase.

Schumacher is working with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to prospect for locations. He acknowledged that real estate in urban centers is more expensive than the suburbs and the cost is passed along in higher tuition.

Jason Cameron, a senior managing director at Newmark who is working with senior associate Jonathan Kaufman to find space for Goddard, said there are challenges in finding real estate for a school.

“You have to dig under rocks,” he said. “Owners have to be okay with the use and there’s a parking requirement. But it’s not unlike looking for office space where there are challenges too.”