A south Kansas City site that once was a community center is to come full circle after serving time as a now-closed middle school.
Kansas City Public Schools has agreed to sell the 20-acre Robeson Middle School property, 8201 Holmes Road, to a redevelopment group that plans a multi-use recreation center. The project will repurpose the property that was built in 1957 for the Jewish Community Center.
A group operating as South Waldo Community Investors LLC intends to close on the sale in early October and hopes to begin rehabilitation of the buildings immediately.
Robeson has been shuttered since 2006. The district held on to the property for possible re-use until last year when it put the 151,800-square-foot building out for bids.
The development group plans an $8.6 million renovation that will provide a recreation center open to the public.
Sean Pickett, a lawyer who’s part of the redevelopment team, said plans call for indoor basketball, volleyball and soccer courts and two outdoor soccer/rugby/football fields. He said the complex will include classrooms for culinary and crafts use, a theater for community use, a sports bar and a food vending area.
An unusual feature of the facility, Pickett said, will be a 24-hour day care operation.
Shannon Jaax, who leads the school district’s repurposing program for closed school buildings, said a unique part of this sale is that it includes a community benefit agreement to ensure that the facility is cost-accessible to low-income residents.
In neighborhood meetings sponsored by the school district, Jaax said it was clear that nearby residents were concerned about being priced out of access to the center.
The development group, a partnership of Wisdom Exchange Inc., Garcia Architecture, FTE Land and Sports Division and SMA Management Group LLC, assured the district that low-income cost accommodations will be provided.
No tax abatements will be requested for the project.
The recreation center’s current working name is the South Waldo Community Center, but Pickett said the final name decision awaits marketing and branding research.