WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The landscape of downtown Wichita changed slightly Friday morning as demolition crews tore down the old Chico’s Used Car building at Kellogg and Topeka.

A demolition crew tears down a former Wichita used car lot, Feb. 24, 2023. (KSN Photo0

In its place, downtown drivers will see a sign announcing it is the future site of Center City Academy, a non-profit early child development center.

Conner Hampton is the development director for Center City Academy. He called this a giant step toward getting the child care center built.

“Potentially 16,000 children right now in Wichita need child care,” he said. “For us to make this step, to get this demolished, [is] another big step towards our goal of building a 13,000-square-foot facility.”

Design of the future Center City Academy (Courtesy LK Architecture)

He said it will be an early childhood learning center with space for 100 children.

“I believe child care is a force multiplier,” Hampton said. “So every child that gets to go into a safe facility has other family members, have parents, that now can get back to work and know that their child is in a safe environment where they know that their children are learning every single day.”

He said Wichita is in a child care crisis. He spoke at Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting to let in-home day care centers in Sedgwick County add two more children.

(KSN Photo)

“In-home day care, child care centers, we’re not in competition,” Hampton said. “Everybody has a waitlist of about 100 to 200 kids long. So we know every child care facility that gets opened, every in-home day care that can add two more spots, just helps with that crisis and again helps all of these children and families throughout Wichita.”

He said Center City Academy’s target opening date is 2025. He said they chose the location so parents can take the Kellogg exit, drop their children off, and get to work.

Before it can open, Hampton said they are still trying to raise money. If you want to learn more or to donate, click CenterCityAcademy.org.

He thanked a partnership with Dondlinger Construction and Conway Bank for Friday’s demolition.