Red Balloon preschool buys former St. Ignatius in Scott
The Red Balloon Early Learning Center has purchased the former St. Ignatius de Loyola Church and school in Scott and plans eventually to consolidate its programs there.
The Rev. David Poecking, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Carnegie, closed on the sale last Friday of three buildings on Finley Avenue — the former St. Ignatius church, the school and an adjoining priest’s residence — for $320,000.
Joanne Thralls, owner and director of The Red Balloon Learning Center, said she plans to open in the school by January, offering the center’s educational programs for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.
Plans call for opening the former St. Ignatius church in the spring of 2018 after remodeling to convert it into an open-conceptlearning space.
“It will be like the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. There will be a lot of space for kids to play and engage in activities,” she said.
The Red Ballooon Early Learning Center eventually will close its two current locations in Scott, one on Lindsay Road and one on Orchard Street, to consolidate all operations at the new location on Finley Avenue.
About 200 children are currently enrolled in programs at the Red Balloon Early Center, with 45 employees and Ms. Thralls plans to hire more at the new location.
However, she said the move to the Finley Avenue site will be gradual so that current programs are not disrupted. The learning center is part of the state Department of Education Pre-K Countsprogram, she said.
Money from the sale will go toward reducing St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish’s building debt, which is about $1.7 million.
“The sale will help St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish reduce its maintenance costs and the costs associated with supervision of the buildings,” Rev. Poecking said.
The three structures contain a total of 32,000 square feet of space. The sale includes 2 acres of surrounding land and two parking lots.
Rev. Poecking said he was glad the buildings will remain part of the neighborhood and have a dignified use.
In 1992, then-Bishop Donald Wuerl merged St. Ignatius parish with four Carnegie parishes to create St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. St. Ignatius became the parish’s principle church in September 2004, after flooding caused by Hurricane Ivan damaged the other Roman Catholic churches in Carnegie.
In 2011, St. Ignatius closed and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton consolidated all of its services and programs at the former St. Luke’s Church on Third Avenue in Carnegie after reconstruction work on the buildings, which now occupy a full city block.