Dixon YMCA to build child-care center in Gateway footprint

Center to span 16,000 square feet to meet care needs in the area

Dixon YMCA CEO Andrew McFarlane address a group Thursday, April 6, 2023 to announce the planned building of a 60,000 foot child care facility at the Gateway Project grounds in Dixon.

DIXON – The Dixon Family YMCA is building a 16,000-square-foot child care center in the Gateway Project footprint to help fill the critical need for care in the area.

YMCA leaders, city officials and developers announced the project Thursday afternoon at the Y gymnasium.

Dixon YMCA CEO Andrew McFarlane address a group Thursday, April 6, 2023 to announce the planned building of a 60,000 foot child care facility at the Gateway Project grounds in Dixon.

Developing youth and connecting families are key to the organization’s mission, but capacity is limited and the demand continues to grow, Dixon YMCA CEO Andy McFarlane said.

More than 3,000 youth are underserved in the region, and many care centers and home day cares haven’t recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“The Y is more than a place to work out – we’re a place of community. Serving the community since the early 1970s in childcare needs, we felt the YMCA could step up and help meet the ever-changing needs of childcare in Lee County,” McFarlane said.

The expansion of the Lovett Child Development Center is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It will be an anchor building in the Gateway footprint.

We’re hopeful that this project will help meet the needs of having quality childcare in the Sauk Valley area.”

—  Heather Grobe, youth and child development director of the Dixon Family YMCA

The Gateway Project is a commercial development expected to bring gas stations, restaurants and at least one hotel to the Interstate 88 corridor.

The 27-acre site along South Galena Avenue across from Walmart between Keul and Bloody Gulch roads broke ground a year ago with the plan to construct a dozen buildings.

It’s being developed by Xsite Real Estate of Burr Ridge and Walsh Partners of Elmhurst. Xsite is the developer of Presidential Parkway Plaza, the four-building project north of Walmart along the south side of Keul Road. The city, the Lee County Industrial Development Association and Sauk Valley Bank also are partners in the project.

“The plans for growth we continue to see in Dixon will only add to the existing childcare need,” said Heather Grobe, youth and child development director at the Y. “We’re hopeful that this project will help meet the needs of having quality childcare in the Sauk Valley Area.”

Dixon YMCA child care director Heather Grobe talks about the need for child care in the community and the positive impact the facility will have on working parents.

The center will provide care for children ranging from newborns to 5-year-olds, and it will increase current capacity from 76 children to more than 200, Grobe said, adding that they’re hoping to help curb the child care crisis in the area.

McFarlane said there are plans for enhancing pre-school and day care programs and a possible program to accommodate parents who work second-shift jobs. It will also be a good learning lab opportunity for students studying education at Sauk Valley Community College.

“The trickle-down effect of building this center and serving the community is going to be great,” he said.

One of the city’s main goals has been to grow the economy and meet the needs of the community, and child care is one of those needs, Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said.

“It’s a critical need for Dixon and the Sauk Valley region being met,” he said.

Dixon mayor Li Arellano says a few words Thursday, April 6, 2023 during the announcement at the YMCA.

Brett Paul, of Xsite, said the center will “bring a community element to the whole project,” and they’re excited to develop it together.

The Y is seeking donations to help support the center. Contact McFarlane at 815-288-9622 or ceo@dixonymca.org for donations, businesses interested in sponsoring rooms for the new center or for more information.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.