A former Kansas City district school that has been closed since 2010 is under contract to become a senior assisted living center at 3640 Benton Blvd.
Kansas City Public Schools has reached an agreement to sell the Sanford B. Ladd Elementary building to the Palestine Economic Development Corp., an affiliate of Palestine Missionary Baptist Church at 3619 E. 35th St.
The Palestine group has until midyear to select an operator for the assisted living facility.
Ladd is a classic red brick school building in the city’s core. The three-story, 85,910-square-foot structure, built in 1912, has been vacant and has suffered some vandalism since it was put up for sale in a large repurposing program by the district.
Shannon Jaax, the district’s repurposing official, said the sale isn’t expected to close until nearly next year because of certain conditions tied to the contract. The district declines to reveal purchase prices on its buildings until the sales close.
By August, the district expects the Palestine group to have an initial commitment for New Markets Tax Credits to help finance the deal. The sale also is conditioned on the building being recommended for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Palestine group has received a necessary certificate of need from the state of Missouri to allow it to proceed with developing a 39-bed assisted living facility.
Melvin Gross, chairman of the Palestine development group, said the group is in talks with several potential assisted living operators.
Through the tax incentives and other financing arrangements, Gross said, the group hopes to pursue a $14 million renovation that ends with the ability to charge the assisted living residents between $1,500 and $2,000 a month — a figure far below the common $4,000-$6,000 range.
“The key thing here is to make this affordable to residents of the surrounding neighborhood,” Gross said.
To help do that, planners aim to put the assisted living center in the building’s first and second floors and use the third floor for between 12 and 20 market-rate apartments so that those rents could help defray the assisted living costs.
“We’re looking at alternatives of market-rate senior apartments or apartments for those who are aging out of foster care to create an intergenerational building,” Gross said.
Pat Clarke, active in the Oak Park neighborhood around Ladd, said neighbors are delighted with the renovation prospects.
“It’s a chance to breathe life back into an abandoned building,” Clarke said. “It’s very important to reopen the doors. When there’s life inside, the vandals have to go somewhere else to vandalize, and there are job opportunities in the neighborhood.”
Plans call for parts of the building, probably the gymnasium and auditorium, to be allocated for community access. A committee affiliated with the church and the neighborhood association will work on specifics.