KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A revitalization project in the Marlborough neighborhood is trying to be an example for what’s possible with old school buildings in the rest of the city.
Part of Kansas City Public School’s Blueprint 2030 effort is identifying what to do with school buildings the district no longer uses.
The school at East 75th Street and Tracy Avenue has been vacant for more than a decade but initial plans to use historic tax credits or low-income housing tax credits to renovate the building fell through, making its future uncertain.
Now, the Marlborough Community Land Trust (MCLT) has picked up the project, securing the proper rezoning approvals and funding to start a roughly $1.6 million project to fix the building’s roof an renovate the first floor into a community hub.
“Because the building has been vacant for 15 years, it is a little like a science fiction experiment inside,” said MCLT Director of Community Development and Operations Meghan Freeman.
By taking an incremental development approach to the project, MCLT is planning to complete a much larger project, with later phases, as the money becomes available to do the work. Revenue from renting out space will help MCLT do its other work, providing affordable housing in the community, while also setting up later phases.
“The plan is to stabilize the first floor, lease the first floor, then we would move to the second floor and the third floor, so we don’t need to have the $16 million all at once,” Freeman said.
“I could see the slow deterioration of it when it was finally vacant,” said Marlborough resident Brenda Thomas, talking about the school building a few blocks from her home.
That’s why she says the investment is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for her and her neighbors who will one day be able to access the services inside the building without having to travel too far.
“We have a lot of new families, young families, and they would like a centerpiece, a place to go for childcare, or whatever the purpose,” Thomas said.
“The whole idea would be in an ideal world that people would drop their kids off for daycare, got the bus stop that’s extremely close, come back at the end of the day, their kids could take some sports clinics and they’d be able to head home,” Freeman said.
“Having such a big asset in your community is really helpful because there are so many things that you can do,” said Marlborough Community Coalition President Jeff Primos. “Things like that become a community resource instead of a community eyesore.”
Work could start in the next few months with additional phases of the project happening as the money to pay for them becomes available.
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