Nearly two weeks before Faxon School Apartments opened up to its first tenant, a celebratory spirit swept through 46-unit complex at 3710 Paseo Blvd., Kansas City.
The reason for the festive atmosphere for the open house on Feb. 19 was the unveiling of a once-vacant elementary school that had been transformed into affordable renovated apartments for seniors 55 and older.
For more than a decade, Faxon School stood vacant in the Squire Park neighborhood. Built early in the 20th century, the building was typical of the Classical Revival style of that period.
Faxon School Apartments was a renovation project carried out by Sunflower Development Group, and its focus is to improve the urban experience for residents by refurbishing buildings for historic preservations.
John Pajor, resident in the Squire Park neighborhood, was thrilled when he learned the vacant school was going to be renovated and eventually become the home for senior citizens.
“For 13 years I have been walking by a vacant building,” Pajor said. “It worries you. I know it worries everybody who lives on the East side, living next to vacant buildings. I am so excited to see lights on in the building, life in the building and have new neighbors.”
The first tenants moved in on March 1. Two weeks before the official opening, 15 units had already been rented.
“It should rent quickly,” said Jacqueline Putman, Vice President of Property Management for Flint Hills Holdings. “It will lease up in the next two months.”
Flint Hills Holdings specializes in innovative real estate development using a variety of unique financing options.
Faxon School Apartments is a Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which means it is income restrictive.
“We specialize in getting federal and state tax credits to build and renovate low income housing for families and seniors,” Putman said. “They get to live in luxury housing but still with affordable pricing.”
The loft-style apartments are $530 per month for a one bedroom apartment and $630 for two bedrooms. The security deposit for one bedroom $300 and two bedroom is $350. There is also $40 application fee.
The yearly gross income for one person cannot exceed $30,840 or $35,220 for two people.
“We pay for their trash, water and sewer bills,” Putman said. “There is no gas. Everything is electric, and the tenants are responsible for the electric bill.
“We have a computer room, a fitness area that’s located in our community room. There is a flat screen TV, cable TV, couches, a kitchenette and laundry facility on the same floor. What is interesting is some units have blackboards in them.”
Some units have the original wood flooring and have been refurbished. The kitchen and bathroom have vinyl. The bedrooms have all new carpet.
Most of the original brick, original floors and original walls remain, but fresh paint was added to give it a crisp feel. The units have large, tall windows. The ceilings average 10 to 15 feet in height.
“We believe we have created a number of amenities for them,” said Jason Swords, Principal of Sunflower Development Group. “This has kind of been an aging community. We believe people would like to stay close to their homes and move into these types of units.”
Bishop Mark Tolbert of Victorious Life Church, 3400 Paseo Blvd., was impressed by what he saw at the open house. He has watched the project take shape since early 2015.
“I walked in here when they first started, and I didn’t have a lot of hopes for them,” Tolbert said. “It was worth every hour to wait for the results we got.
“It is fabulous. They did an absolutely wonderful job. You still see the columns and many of the original things that were in this building. It is just incredible the job they did.”
Tolbert said the Faxon School Apartments is perfect for some of the people in his congregation who are getting older and want to move out of their bigger homes and stay close to the church.
“This is a Godsend, to be able to have somewhere that is not only safe, but quality and close to the church, close to their family, friends and grandchildren,” Tolbert said. “I think it will add 10 years of life to some of the seniors who have been forced out of their community. Because of this development, they will be able to stay in what feels like a home atmosphere.”
Vickie Black, apartment manager at Faxon School Apartments, said the complex was much needed in the neighborhood.
“It is very important because there are so many seniors who are selling their homes and don’t need that much space anymore, just trying to downsize,” Black said. “It is a crucial need for seniors.
“They move out of town and they want to come back home. I have several applicants who used to live here, and they started traveling and moving away and now they are coming back to their families but don’t want to live with their families.”
The Faxon School Apartments gives them the best of both worlds. Residents in the neighborhood are thrilled that they no longer have to worry about a large vacant building deteriorating away.
“I am very grateful to Jason Swords and everybody else who has worked really hard on this project,” Pajor said.