KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two brothers are helping restore a beloved building near the 18th and Vine District, all while adding to Kansas City’s rich arts community and more.

The Zhou Brothers Art Center of Kansas City will repurpose the historic Crispus Attucks Elementary school building. On Tuesday, they broke ground on the 70,000 Sq. Ft. Zhou B. Art Center.

“We start from today,” Zhou said.

The building was built in 1905 and named after a Black man who died in the Boston Massacre of 1770 between colonists and British soldiers.

Over the last two decades, the building has sat abandoned, but that changed on Tuesday.

“Today we get to celebrate an amazing transformation in the core of our community,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “The Zhou brothers are some of the most creative, innovative people in the world.”

City officials recently gave the Zhou brothers – out of Chicago – $2 million in grant money to preserve the structure.

The brothers are also spending $30 million in private funds to turn it into an art center.

“With the building, with Kansas City, Zhou B. Art Center, that means a lifetime commitment with the Zhou Brothers,” ShanZuo Zhou said.

“I can say, I am very excited in this moment,” DaHaung Zhou said. “It really makes me feel like this will be our home.”

There will be a sculpture garden, gallery spaces, 45 studios and an immersive digital experience. The art center will also be home to spaces for weddings and community events.

“We have no doubt that this project will help us further our mission and directly benefit artists and the community as a whole,” Municipal Art Commission Chair Megan Lewis said.

“This is as excited as I’ve been since we started trying to rebuild this area,” Cleaver said.

With future plans to bring more restaurants, stores and even a brewery to 18th and Vine, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver sees a destination for locals and tourists.

“One of the things we’re hoping to do is have this eclectic mix of jazz, of museums, of sport and of street activity to the degree that this becomes one of the main destination parts of our community,” Cleaver said.

The project is expected to wrap up by August next year, with a ribbon cutting and open Art Center to follow.

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