Details on Westport schools reuse: Market rate housing proposal

Steve Foutch presented his firm’s vision of a redeveloped Westport High School and Middle School to the community on Saturday. His proposal would create market-rate housing in both schools, with fitness centers and athletic fields open for public use.

One of the developers hoping to repurpose Westport High School and Westport Middle School envisions market-rate housing, community athletic fields, fitness centers and a community pool. Three developers presented their ideas for reuse of the schools on Saturday. As the KC Midtown Post reported on Saturday, the Kansas City School District has put 30 surplus schools on the market and is asking the community to help determine their future uses. Tomorrow, we will detail the second proposal that residents at the Saturday meeting agreed would be a good fit for the community.

The first proposal comes from Foutch Brothers.

Proposal in a nutshell: Westport High School would be converted to 150 market-rate residential housing units along the outside of the building, with a fitness center (open to the community) and perhaps offices for small businesses in the interior. The developer would keep the outdoor football and soccer fields, making them available for rental to anyone in the community, and might add an outdoor pool. The middle school would also become market-rate residential units mixed with office space, a pool and fitness center.

 How it fits neighborhood needs as expressed by the community: “We want to bring a lot of activity back to the community,” Steve Foutch said at the meeting. He said the project would help to remove blight and attract families with children through the recreational facilities. The auditoriums could be meeting places for churches, arts or community groups.

Developer history: Foutch Brothers are historic preservation specialists who have redeveloped schools in four states. Their philosophy is to not demolish buildings or add on to them, but to adapt them for a reuse that fits community needs. They have done projects in St. Joseph, Des Moines, and Leavenworth. The company would develop, design, build, own and manage the properties. Steve Foutch formerly lived in Roanoke.

Cost: $20 million, contingent on tax credits.

What do you think of this proposal for the reuse of Westport Middle and High schools?