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Knowledge Universe commits to Portland

Childood education company extends lease in the Lloyd District for an additional 10 years


KnowledgeUniverse just reupped the lease on its Lloyd District headquarters for 10 more years.

The company, whose brands includes KinderCare, Knowledge Beginnings, CCLC, and Champions, has more than over 450 employees at its headquarters. It is the country’s largest private provider of early childhood education, with almost 30,000 employees nationwide, many of them educators.

“What’s attractive to us is the revival of the Lloyd District, that we feel better about the community, the space suits us and the commute suits us,” KnowledgeUniverse CEO Tom Wyatt‚ told the Tribune.

The company looked at spaces in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Lake Oswego.

“We saw stuff we liked but nothing with this location and infrastructure,” he said of the 650 N.E. Holladay St. tower the firm now occupies. “The MAX and streetcar are literally outside our door.”

KnowledgeUniverse did a heat map of where its Portland staff live and found although they were spread out, many of them had moved closer to the headquarters or to public transport lines over the years, for ease of commute. Wyatt himself lives in the Indigo in the Pearl District and goes to work on the new east-side streetcar line.

The company has been based in Portland since 1998. The Lloyd District is about to boom commercially and residentially.

There are 10 new buildings in the works over the next five years, including the four-star Hotel Eastlund, which is set to open in May 2015 where the Red Lion is now.

“I like that there will be better infrastructure here: more professional buildings, parking, restaurants, dry cleaners, sandwich shops, and even places to live for staff that want to be close by. Our new 10-year lease is fair to us, I don’t see the rent jumping up when new buildings open.”

Wyatt added that the company is considering opening a new child care or early learning center nearby.

“We would love to have a lab nearby where we could study our methods and refine our work.”

Rather than move to be spread over fewer floors than in the current tower, Wyatt says the firm will remodel the current space and regroup its teams to aid work flow and information flow.

“Signing this lease solidifies our commitment to the City of Portland,” he added. “Having such a large employer commit its future to Portland and the Lloyd District is a huge boost for the city — and one that will leverage further economic development,” said Portland city Commissioner Nick Fish, City Council’s liaison to Venture Portland.

“Knowledge Universe supports family wage jobs, promotes early childhood education, and contributes to our community.”

The company has done a three-year plan and undertaken reengineering.

Wyatt says he expects in three years to have more people working here than now.

“We are hiring.”