Jason Swords hopes the third time is indeed the charm.
Swords’ company, Sunflower Development Group, is submitting its third application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help renovate the former Blenheim Elementary School into senior housing.
“The bones are good. It’s in good shape except for the gym,” Swords said of the building at 2411 E. 70th Terrace that has been vacant since 2009.
Swords said he’s feeling positive about this application being accepted to help convert the 67,760-square-foot school building into 52 apartments. Two previous applications for the tax credits haven’t won approval from the state of Missouri.
This time, the developer has a partnership agreement for the Blenheim proposal with Phoenix Family, a Kansas City-based nonprofit organization that provides on-site support and guidance to people living in low-income housing communities.
“These applications are competitive,” said Kimber Myers Givner, Phoenix Family executive director. “We provide senior and low-income, multifamily support services in three states and have seen how having service coordinators helps.”
Neighbors want the renovation to proceed.
“We’ve asked for senior housing. We have a need for it,” said Marjorie Williams, a member of the Tri-Blenheim Neighborhood Association in southeast Kansas City. “It would be a good location. It’s on a bus line, there’s a hospital close by and it’s convenient to a grocery store.”
Neighbors have been briefed about the project by Sunflower, which has a memorandum of understanding with Kansas City to redevelop the school into affordable housing. The partnership also would use Community Development Block Grant and other public funding as well as the tax credits from the state.
The state funding request will be submitted for the fall 2016 funding round. If accepted, Swords said, the company hopes construction will be underway by this time next year.
The three-story brick building, opened in 1925, sits on 3.5 acres. It’s one of dozens of Kansas City Public Schools facilities closed because of declining enrollment.
Sunflower already has repurposed another closed school into affordable senior apartments. That building, the former Faxon Elementary at 3710 Paseo Blvd., was converted into 45 apartments.