By Kevin Collison
The former Board of Education building at 1211 McGee has been sold by the school district to downtown real estate powerhouse Copaken Brooks in a transaction that closed last week.
Jon Copaken, principal of the firm, said that while there are no immediate development plans for the 2.5-acre site next door to the Sprint Center, the nine-story building likely will be razed.
“Our intention would be to redevelop the site without the building,” he said. “We don’t see a reusable strategy.
“We’d be looking at something new that could be done in conjunction with our other properties.”
The Board of Ed building opened in 1960 and has been vacant and on the market since the Kansas City School District relocated to new quarters on Troost Avenue in 2016. The Kansas City Public Library left for its current location at 10th and Baltimore in 2004.
Last year, a tentative sales agreement that would have torn the building down and replaced it with a Drury Hotel fell through.
A decision to demolish the property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, likely would be opposed by preservation groups. It does not have local landmark status however, which would require a city review before any demolition could occur.
Last fall, the building was listed by the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation as one of 15 “Places in Peril” in the state.
The group described the nine-story Board of Ed building as having been designed in the mid-century modern style of Mies van der Rohe by prominent local architect Edward W. Tanner.
The building also is adorned with a colorful mosaic mural done by the late Kansas City artist Arthur Kraft.
Copaken said no decision has been made about the mural.
“We’d be open to explore solutions for what to do with the mural,” he said.
The Board of Ed and its adjoining garage occupies a full downtown block from 12th to 13th streets between McGee and Oak.
In addition to the Sprint Center, the property is close to two sites mentioned for a potential downtown ballpark, the East Village and property where the Jackson County Jail now stands.
Copaken Brooks also controls a development site across McGee from the Board of Ed property northeast of 13th and Grand. It has long been considered a potential office project site
“We got involved with it because if give us the ability to control and develop the contiguous properties we have,” Copaken said.
“Anything and everything will be explored. At the end of the day, whatever we do will have some level of mixed use involved.”
Copaken Brooks recently completed the 12-story ARTerra apartment project in the Crossroads Arts District and is building REVERB, a 14-story apartment project, at 18th and Walnut.
The firm also is a partner in the proposed Strata office tower at 13th and Main in the Power & Light District.
School district officials said they were pleased the sale of their former building will allow further development downtown.
“Almost four years ago, the Kansas City School Board made the decision to relocate the Board of Education headquarters to 2901 Troost — a strategic move that places our main offices in the heart of the city, central to our students and their families,” Pattie Mansur, KCPS Board Chair, said in a statement.
“We are extremely proud to be part of the growth and redevelopment of the Troost Corridor today, and to see how our former downtown headquarters will add to the vitality of downtown Kansas City.”
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