Plan for student housing on Troost fails

Photo from a Community Vision for St. Francis Xavier School, June 3, 2013.

Photo from a Community Vision for St. Francis Xavier School, June 3, 2013.


A plan by the Kansas City Catholic diocese to build student housing on Troost Avenue fell Tuesday after massive neighborhood opposition.

The City Plan Commission voted unanimously to deny a rezoning and an area plan change for the project.

About three dozen neighborhood people waited through other hearings for hours to oppose the changes.

A previous plan for the site at the former St. Francis Xavier School at 5220 Troost also died in 2012 because of neighborhood opposition.

On Tuesday, opponents argued that the zoning change was just a ruse that would have allowed the project to be built without another public hearing.

Les Cline, president of the 49/63 Neighborhood Association, said that the developer and diocese once again had not gotten input from the neighborhoods.

Cline said he did not know that a new plan had been filed in January and only learned of it and the rezoning attempt a short time ago.

“The zoning change takes away the opportunity for community input,” he said. “This project lacks the thing we value most, which is political engagement.”

Plan Commission Chair Babette Macy told diocese officials that with their lack of community input, “this is going to be a really tough sell.”

She also noted that a study of the previous plan found the project was not financially viable.

Michael Book, attorney for the diocese, said the new plan for 100 units would still be a residence hall for Catholic students.

But he said they had reduced the site size from the previous plan. It would be on 1.2 acres instead of more than twice that.

Vince Gauthier, who works for the BNIM architecture firm, said the project still calls for 293 beds and 102 parking spaces.

“We told you we didn’t want a 200-pound pig,” he said. “What makes you think we want a 150-pound pig?”

Cline has noted that community residents participated in a needs assessment last year that cited many potential reuses for the vacant old school building. They included things like a primary school, a family counseling center, a culinary center, events space and more.


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