Old School Gets New Life Thanks to Brad Pitt

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A boarded up school that has been closed for more than a decade is getting a new life and could possibly breathe new life into the entire east side neighborhood.

Details of the Bancroft Redevelopment Project were announced at a press conference on Monday with Mayor Sly James and Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver. Missouri native Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation is also involved in the project. Pitt launched the foundation to help rebuild areas of New Orleans that were hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina with cutting-edge, green designs.

Pitt’s vision is now coming to Kansas City. Bancroft School, located at 43rd and Tracy, was never destroyed in a hurricane, but it has been vacant and boarded up for almost 12 years. Stephen Boyd was outside the building Monday morning cleaning up the area around the school getting ready for the big announcement.

“It’s coming along,” Boyd said. “I’m glad to see it. I went to school here years ago.”

Boyd last stepped foot inside Bancroft Elementary in 1975 and he lived just down the street.

“It’s quite sentimental for me, like a homecoming,” he said. “I can’t wait to get in there and clean up. Good childhood memories I had here.”

Bancroft is a 108 year old building. The school district closed it in 2000 and it’s sat empty ever since. But in 2009, Dalmark Development Group bought it, and the new plan calls for 50 apartment units and a public space for the Manheim Park Neighborhood, including a gym and auditorium for community events. There’s also a transit corridor to spur economic growth and jobs.

It’s being touted as a unique public/private partnership with historic building tax credits and low income housing funding, plus the Make it Right Foundation has committed $2.3 million to elevate the project to a Leed Platinum design.

“After seeing it sit idle for so many years, it’s good to be a part of getting it together again,” Boyd said. “I like to see that in the community, new hope and life for the community.”

The designs for the Bancroft Redevelopment Project is already winning awards. Just last week it was one of six projects in the world to receive a Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Award for high quality public design.

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