Vacant elementary school debuts as affordable apartment complex - WNEM TV 5

Vacant elementary school to debut as affordable apartment complex

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Brad Pitt's organization Make It Right is debuting the transformation of a rundown vacant metro school into new affordable housing in the urban core.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this weekend for the former Bancroft Elementary School, but they gave an early behind-the-scenes look at the redevelopment. Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II will participate in the weekend ceremony for what will now be the Bancroft School Apartments.

Local companies partnered with Make It Right to build the energy-efficient apartments located at 4300 Tracy Avenue from the school that originally opened in 1904 and then had sat empty for thirteen years.

"When the school closed it became a blight, a drain on the community. It brought things down. It didn't help elevate it," said Jim Nichols, the owner of Dalmark Development Group.

Crews are finishing the final touches to begin leasing the apartments to low-income families.

"We wanted it to become a resource within the neighborhood again and breathe new life into the effort along Troost," said Tim Duggan the director of Make It Right Innovations.

The 50-unit development includes 29 apartments built inside the rehabilitated elementary school and 21 new modern units built on the school grounds.

There are income restrictions for the one, two and three bedroom apartments.

"We've had over 150 inquiries. The property is approximately halfway spoken for as far as leases," Nichols said.

Pitt's Make It Right organization began helping families impacted by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

"After a few years of redeveloping after a natural disaster in New Orleans, we really wanted to stress the importance of working in other communities and sharing that knowledge that may have had an economic disaster and not a natural one," Duggan said.

They partnered with the Dalmark Development Group and Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City to improve the Manheim Park neighborhood in Kansas City.

"What Make It Right did is they brought the level of awareness and some notoriety which really helped everyone to focus. That focus created the result you see you in front of you today," Nichols said.

The project also features a gymnasium, technology lab, mobile medical clinic and community gardens.

All of the apartments are LEED Platinum Rental units, which means they are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

The Bancroft Project cost $14.1 million. Donors including the Dreiseszun Family Foundation and U.S. Bank. The Dreiseszun Family Foundation honors the memory of Kansas City real estate developer and philanthropist Sherman Dreiseszun. U.S. Bank made a $1.2 million Affordable Housing Assistance Program donation in support of the Bancroft Project.

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