A popular Gold Coast childcare centre has confirmed it won’t be reopening its doors following a lengthy legal dispute with its landlord.
Kids Academy Hope Island shut its doors on Friday with little notice, after last minute attempts to stop the operators being evicted failed.
Parents were not informed until 9.30pm on Thursday night that the centre would not be open on Friday due to ‘unforeseen circumstances.’
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But there was no indication given at the time that the closure was permanent.
Removalist trucks were seen at the centre on Friday while staff spent the day removing equipment along with children’s medication, bedding and artwork.
The closure has left parents in shock and scrambling to find alternative care for their kids.
They’ve also called for their bonds to be refunded immediately, which for some families amounts to several hundred dollars.
Many claim they can’t afford to enrol their children at other centres until they get their bonds back.
Parents will hold a meeting outside the centre at midday on Wednesday.
Kids Academy, established by childcare operator Scott Hookey, was forced to vacate the Halcyon Way premises after a court ruled in favour of the centre’s landlord.
Mr Hookey has been in dispute with landlord John Whitelaw for the last two years following a breakdown in their relationship.
Kids Academy’s lease was actually terminated back in September 2018 over a failure to pay rent.
The rent arrears was later repaid.
Mr Hookey argued the rent was excessive and Kids Academy was not liable because of a verbal agreement for the pair to jointly own the land and the childcare business.
But the court ruled in April there was no such agreement in place and the lease had been lawfully terminated.
Kids Academy was last month given 21 days to provide a $524,389 bank guarantee to the landlord to prevent being evicted and continue operating the centre, but was unable to do so, forcing operators to close the doors.
Mr Hookey plans to appeal the court’s decision, but that is unlikely to be heard before September.
The centre’s closure has left parents and staff devastated, with many describing the centre as like a family.
Mr Hookey has apologised to families impacted.
“I wish to apologise to all those who have been affected by the sudden closure of the centre, which has ultimately resulted from me dropping my guard not clearly documenting my agreement with Mr Whitelaw whom I then considered to be a very close friend,” Mr Hookey said.