Keystone Kidspace slated for soft opening this summer

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

A hub for children's programming in York City is expected to partially open this summer, giving families and children in the area a taste of the wide variety of educational services it has to offer.

Organizers with the nonprofit organization Keystone Kidspace, located in the former York Armory building at 369 N. George St., are opting for the soft opening because of  COVID-19 restrictions. Still, co-founder Jessica Brubaker said, the initial services will be a strong start in the effort to enrich the lives of children in the region.

David Eckenrode, of the painting company Red Lion Spray, paints window frames at Keystone Kidspace Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Located in the former York Armory building, the play space for families is slated to open in the fall. Jessica Brubaker, co-founder and executive director, said the space would be used for COVID-19-safe, small gathering events prior to then. Bill Kalina photo

"In the summer, we will begin to offer smaller workshops, opportunities for birthday parties and smaller events, where we can manage numbers and distancing," Brubaker said.

More:Keystone Kidspace to renovate abandoned Armory, open in 2020

More:Keystone Kidspace set to occupy downtown Armory

Keystone Kidspace acquired the York Armory building in spring 2018, and renovations for the project began in 2019. Since then, the organization has nearly met its $7 million goal through donations and grants.

The original sign at the former York Armory building, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, was retained and renovated for the Keystone Kidspace project. Located in the former armory building, Keystone Kidspace is designed to be a gathering place for families. It is slated to open in the fall. Jessica Brubaker, co-founder & executive director, said the space would be used for COVID-19-safe, small gathering events prior to then. Bill Kalina photo

The purpose of the Keystone Kidspace is to give children the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences, Brubaker said. That could be anything from cooking classes and working with hand tools to using technology.

Most of the main construction at the facility has already been completed, she added. What's left are finishing touches such as IT infrastructure, plumbing and signage.

David Eckenrode, of the painting company Red Lion Spray, paints window frames at Keystone Kidspace Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Located in the former York Armory building, the play space for family learning is slated to open in the fall. Jessica Brubaker, co-founder and executive director, said the space would be used for COVID-19-safe, small gathering events prior to then. Bill Kalina photo

While the soft opening will be limited to smaller groups in order to maintain social distancing, Brubaker said she expects a grand opening sometime after Labor Day. At that time, the organization will welcome families from all corners of York County.

“First, I’m a mom,” Brubaker said. “I have two boys of my own. And it really comes down to a belief that all kids should have access to these kinds of opportunities." 

Jessica Brubaker, Keystone Kidspace co-founder and executive director, poses in Curiosity Hall at the family learning center Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Located in the former York Armory building, the play space is designed for family learning and is slated to open in the fall. She said the space would be used for COVID-19-safe, small gathering events prior to then. Bill Kalina photo

The 16,878-square-foot building that the organization will call home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also located near several schools in York City and the York Revolution stadium, as well as across from a lot with ample parking.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.