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Nana’s Play Place opens today at the Valley Water Mill Center.
provided by Nana’s Play Place LLC
Nana’s Play Place opens today at the Valley Water Mill Center.

Play space for children debuts on city’s north side

Posted online

A Springfield couple, which includes a former longtime educator, is behind a new north-side children’s play space.

Nana’s Play Place LLC, which opened today, is a first-time business endeavor for Cheryl Knox, who co-owns the venture with her husband, Chuck. It occupies seven units in Valley Water Mill Center at 3550 N. Glenstone Ave., Stes. E-K. Nana’s Play Space fills roughly 10,000 square feet in space formerly occupied by Dollar General, which she said moved into a new building across the street last year.

Knox declined to disclose startup costs or the three-year lease rate she and her husband signed with Valley Water Mill Center Inc.

Nana’s Play Space is a professional pivot for Knox, who said she spent 22 years working in education, including teaching stints in Buffalo, Pleasant Hope and at Springfield Catholic High School. Additionally, she formerly was an administrator in Buffalo, where she served as a principal at its elementary and high school.

“I have three grandchildren, and I want to spend more time doing fun stuff,” she said of her desire to open a space focusing on sensory and imaginative play for children. “Being in education and watching kids, I feel like they are really missing out on unstructured play. This provides them unstructured play but also a safe environment. It’s not without limits, but they can use their imagination and be creative.”

Knox said she and her husband, who has his own handyman business, An Extra Hand by C&C LLC, did much of the work on the children’s play areas. Those areas include a construction zone, a gas station and garage, a farm and a space with a jungle gym, slide and rope bridge devoted to developing gross motor skills, she said.

Two party areas also are available for rentals with a capacity of up to 75 people. When parties aren’t being hosted, the facility’s occupancy is 150, she said.

“If it’s a private party, then they’ll have use of the whole facility,” she said.

Children from birth to 8 years old are the intended age range for the six-employee business. Admission is $10 Monday-Thursday and $12 Friday and Saturday for ages 2-8. The price for children under 2 years old is $5 Monday-Thursday and $6 Friday and Saturday. The first adult with a paying child gets in free and any additional adults pay $4. Play passes, which are good for 10 admissions, cost $100 for ages 2-8 and $50 for children under 2 years old. Additionally, socks, pre-packaged snacks and bottled water are available for purchase.

A north-side resident since 1988, Knox said she specifically targeted that side of town as a place for her business, citing a need for more activities aimed at younger children.

A venture with a similar concept, Where the Wild Things Play LLC, opened last year in Ozark.

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