School repurposers release draft report on Westport Middle and High Schools

Westport Middle School.

While they wait for more information from interested redevelopment teams, Kansas City school repurposers have released a draft reuse report on Westport High and Middle Schools. In late August, three developers presented their ideas for redeveloping the two large schools in Midtown. The district has not taken action on the proposals.

The Kansas City School District’s Repurposing office, which is guiding the reuse/redevelopment of 30 closed schools, has released a draft report for the school board. It puts together various information about possible reuse of the schools, including building and market assessments and feedback from the community. The repurposing office is asking for additional comments from the public. Once the report is completed, it will be adopted by the school board as a plan to “move the sites toward productive reuse that supports KCPS goals and benefits the district’s neighborhoods and residents.”

The draft report includes the following concepts:

  • Multi-family housing: Both sites are readily adaptable for multi-family housing, but the surrounding neighborhoods have concerns about increasing the number of subsidized housing units in the area.
  • Mixed-use redevelopment: Both sites would easily support conversion to mixed-use configuration. Neighborhood stakeholders have expressed support for the mixed-use redevelopment of the site, but “are concerned about the cost to redevelop the site, parking, and the track record and financial wherewithal of any entity interested in pursuing a major redevelopment project.”
  • Educational use: Both facilities are well suited for secondary or post-secondary educational uses, but the size of the schools could be prohibitive for charter schools.
  • Office/community use: The most likely viable reuse in this category would be a mixed-used facility with some office/commercial space. The buildings could offer opportunities for the community reuse of gyms, auditoriums, libraries and athletic fields, all of which are not easily converted into other uses.
  • Demolition: Community stakeholders do not support demolition. They say the buildings are symbolic gateways to surrounding neighborhoods and their redevelopment could be an economic catalyst.

Earlier this year, the district received four different redevelopment proposals and short-listed three to move forward. Those three developers made presentations to the community in August 2012, and stakeholders at the meeting expressed interest in two of those. The repurposing office has requested additional information from the three developers and is still awaiting a response. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods around the schools (Southmoreland, Old Hyde Park, and Hyde Park) have requested another meeting before the district maeks a decision.

Draft reuse strategies are now available for review for Ashland, Dunbar, McCoy, and Moore schools.

Read the full Westport High School and Middle School Draft Reuse Strategy and Action Plan


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