Five months after the Bright Futures Fund announced plans for a new Catholic school in the old Derrick Thomas Academy charter school building, the deal has fallen through.
The fund, which raises money for schools in the diocese, was working to acquire the closed school building at 201 E. Armour Blvd. as the future home of a new Catholic elementary school to be named Our Lady of Hope.
“While all parties worked hard and in good faith to make that happen, we were ultimately unable to come to an agreement that made financial sense for the Bright Futures Fund,” said Jeremy Lillig, director of stewardship and development for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, in a statement Friday.
But, Lillig said, it won’t change the education opportunities for the students already attending city diocesan schools.
“While our plan has changed, our mission and determination have not,” the statement said. “The Bright Futures Fund looks forward to investing in its current schools and expanding for the future.”
Had the diocese been able to close the deal on the Derrick Thomas building, it would have meant the closure of two Catholic schools with a long history in Kansas City — Our Lady of the Angels and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both schools have operated in Kansas City since the early 1900s.
More than 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, along with many of the teachers, were to move into the building on Armour Boulevard at the beginning of the upcoming school year.
The idea behind the plan was to relocate two of the diocese’s schools closer to the east side of the urban core as a sign of the diocese’s commitment to connect with the core of the city.
Lamar Hunt Jr., a member of the Bright Futures board, would have provided the money to obtain the 90,000-square-foot building through his charity, the Loretto Foundation.
Under the deal, Bright Futures would have leased the building from its current owner — New Jersey-based investment firm Lord Abbett & Co. LLC — for five years and then buy it for an undisclosed price.
The two were never able to agree on an affordable acquisition price.
Lillig said the diocese will continue with plans to consolidate Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Angels and will name that school Our Lady of Hope, to be located at the current Our Lady of Angels building at 4232 Mercier.
The new Our Lady of Hope will use space in the convent adjacent to Our Lady of the Angels to accommodate the consolidated school. Money will also be spent to improve the grounds around that school and the existing instructional space.
Over the next three years, Lillig said, the Bright Futures Fund will look to develop a third centrally located school to keep with its mission of reaching more inner-city youths.