Old Kansas City school becoming apartments

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- People are getting schooled as they move into their new homes.

Developers are turning a west-side school into lofts, and there will be a complete transformation of the 114 unit buildings. The once classrooms and now future homes will continue to have the old-school charm of the building.

“This was the elementary portion of the school complex, so all these apartments that we`re in now each used to be a kindergarten or elementary style classroom,” says Steve Foutch , CEO Foutch Brothers, about the one finished building.

Construction on five connected buildings, of the former Switzer School, has been going on for months. One building is finished and has 18 apartments ranging from 1100 square feet to 300 square feet. That building got its final inspections about a week ago.

“This is about the 20th school that we`ve done, through the repurposing efforts of the Kansas City Missouri School District, we bid and competed for this complex, and through our design work and construction work we were able to convert classrooms into apartments,” Foutch adds.

The Foutch brothers bought the buildings for $450,000 two-years ago.

The school complex is on the national register of historic places, so the Foutch brothers received $7.5 million in state and federal historic tax credits for the renovation project.

“Because of the historic tax credits, and the benefits that we`re getting, they require us to save anything that is relevant to the meaning of the building,” Foutch says.

Many of the original features of the school --like old chalkboards, will remain in the new apartments.

“Even the contractor took the light fixtures, and redid those, so those are the original light fixtures as well, the bookcase behind you was in such bad shape from windows and water coming in, that`s not the original material, but we recreated the size, style, and shape of what was there,” Foutch adds.

“I think it`s really cool they`re keeping it kind of historic and keeping that feel of that old type of neighborhood down here,” says Timothy Williams, the store manager of Westside Storey, a nearby business.

Williams says once more people start living in the area, even more development will start happening.

“We`re really excited about what`s happening down there, I think it will really just thrive in the neighborhood, it`s an awesome area to live in and to work in,” Williams says, “To bring people and have people visiting those places, and seeing what`s happening is awesome, being able to eat at the restaurants and shop here is great for the area.”

The first of five buildings is ready for tenants to move in. The next two buildings will be ready in mid-September.

The last two larger school wings will be ready toward the end of November.