Attention real estate investors, speculators and bargain hunters — have we got some deals for you!
It's no secret that over the past three decades, the Kansas City, Missouri, School District has closed at least 30 of its buildings. Some were sold and some were torn down, but others were simply deserted. We can't tell you exactly how many buildings fall into that last category because district administrators have done such a poor job of accounting for these properties. We asked for a complete list of abandoned schools, and officials sent back just 11. There may be more.
As the Independence School District has discovered this summer, it isn't easy getting ahold of Kansas City School District buildings — even when voters command the district to hand them over. The school board and its real estate arm spent most of the summer fighting the transfer in court.
The district's headquarters is supposedly for sale, but the board doesn't seem eager to unload the hot property. Back in May, the district solicited offers for the building at 1211 McGee, a prime piece of real estate next to the new Sprint Center. It's reportedly received several offers, including one from City Hall, but the school board has not yet acted.
And then there are the abandoned schools. Months ago, the district hired Block & Co. realtors to market and sell some of the schools. But the school board has done nothing to determine which schools should be sold or how much they're worth.
It might not be easy trying to make a deal with the district, but opportunities abound for investors willing to put up with the aggravation.
Even after being abandoned for as long as two decades, these buildings are generally an impressive lot. The hand-carved stonework, Spanish-tile roofs and arched brick entranceways are reminiscent of the Plaza and the Liberty Memorial — Kansas City's golden age.
Developers unwilling to invest in the city's urban core can get in on the action, too. Though the majority of these forgotten schools are in the city's more impoverished neighborhoods, some are near rehabbed houses and new, upscale condos.
To help with the marketing effort, The Pitch has collected square footage and property values from the Jackson County Tax Assessor's Office, gathered historical data from the Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library's archives and consulted John Duncan, a retired educator who serves as unofficial school-district historian.
Owning more than 418,000 square feet of abandoned buildings makes the Kansas City, Missouri, School District the metro's biggest slumlord — and we say it's time for the public to act!
Act now on this one, because its one of only two schools that we saw with a for-sale sign on it. Picture low-income apartments or senior housing on this hill just blocks above Brush Creek.
History: Named for local historian George Bancroft, this building started out as a two-room schoolhouse in 1904. In 1996, Bancroft adopted a novel curriculum geared toward raising a legitimate sense of integrity, but that wasnt enough to keep the school district from closing it in 2000.
Square footage: 23,376
Switzer School, West Junior High
and Switzer Annex
1810 and 1829 Madison
Yuppies continue to renovate and build on the West Side, and heres a future condominium complex in the making. Not far from Mexican bakeries and upscale bistros, this complex of 10 lots has the potential to be a Kansas City gem once again.
History: Switzer opened in 1881 and served as a middle school for the children of West Side immigrants, first Scandinavians and then Mexicans. Educators figured the kids wouldnt go to high school, so Switzer offered classes from seventh through 10th grades. The oldest of the abandoned schools, its also one of the longest abandoned, having closed in the 1980s.
Square footage: 82,596
Price: $1.6 million