Repurposing Bryant Elementary School in Brookside

Last night I attended the first “Reuse Proposal Presentations” hosted by the Kansas City School District.  This one was about repurposing Bryant Elementary School at Wornall and Westover.  It was held at the Country Club United Methodist Church, and over 100 people turned out to listen and ask questions, mostly middle aged and retired residents from the nearby homes.

So far, the only proposal submitted for this site is a combination condo/private country club project by six developers, banding together as an LLC.  (It was difficult to read their formal company name from the overhead projector in the back of the church!).  This group plans to keep the existing structure and footprint of the building.  About half the space would be turned into 14 condos (25,000 SF) and the rest of the building would be a private club with an Olympic sized outdoor pool, six tennis courts, a racquetball court, restaurant, fitness club, and common area for residents, banquet area available for rental, and a private rooftop terrace.  Developers plan about 110 parking spaces, with 28 of those associated with the condos. Condo prices would start at approximately $300 per SF, or around $300,000 for the smallest condo (1000SF).  The developers are seeking tax credits for the project, estimated to cost $11.9 million with construction beginning next year (if approved).   The country club will have a ‘non profit’ classification—did I hear that correctly??

It seemed to me that most of the persons present in the audience were against the project.  The main concern is the increased traffic for the residential area surrounding the club, as well as ‘light and noise pollution’ from the outdoor sports and some ‘visual pollution’ from the inflated domed tennis courts.  The developers reported that no formal traffic study has been done and they feel the traffic disruption will be ‘minimal’.  They will ‘work with the neighbors’ to restrict parking on surrounding streets.  Everyone was asked to complete a form expressing their views about the project that the KCMO School District will take under consideration.

Personally, I am not opposed to a condo development on the site, especially if the existing building will be used.  As for the private country club, I am concerned about the increased traffic and parking shortage for project.  Already there is heavy traffic surrounding nearby St Teresa’s Academy during the week and on weekends during special events. This private club will obviously cater to people with substantial incomes, and therefore unavailable to many nearby Brookside homeowners.  In addition, how will this project look from the street?  Will it be a gated community with tall fencing, an ugly streetscape for passers-by? These specific concerns could not be adequately addressed at the meeting.

Iwant to see other interested parties step up with proposals for this site so there are more options for this building.  You can express your views or get more information by emailing repurposing@kcpublicschools.org

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