Midtown will be undergoing some dramatic changes as Westport Middle School was recently sold to developers at BNIM to be converted into community spaces as well as market-rate housing. BNIM has named the project a Center for Community Vitality. Their plan includes residential living, a botanical garden, a pool and wellness center, and more.
However, Westport High School’s fate has yet to be officially decided. Both Bob Berkebile and his firm, BNIM, and Steve Foutch and his firm, The Foutch Bros. have submitted proposals to the Kansas City School Board. Both proposals include part of the building becoming residential area, a school, and community area.
The Westport High School and Westport Middle School buildings are beautiful additions to the Midtown landscape, and many community members are concerned over changing such gorgeous architecture. However, both developers have recognized the beauty of each building and plan to keep many of its original features in tact.
BNIM's proposal for the high school includes uses as a school, a culinary institute, a fitness facility, and a Screenland community forum and theatre. Berkebile asserts that his firm's plans for both the middle and the high school are cohesive plans that are connected although thus far they have only won the middle school bid.
The Foutch Bros. proposal also includes a school, and they plan to partner with Academy Lafayette, a French immersion school. The proposed school will follow Academy Lafayette's philosophies, however the school will not itself be a French immersion school. Their proposal also includes market-rate housing in the form of 1-2 bedroom apartments, as well as a country club fitness facility that will reutilize the old high school's sports fields and will be used by both the school and community members.
Both firms recognize the need for a school in the area. As a community is often centered around a school that provides positive energy for the neighborhood, the loss of the Westport high school and middle schools has left a negative energy in the Midtown area. BNIM and the Foutch Bros. are seeking to change that by creating community-interactive centers, affordable living spaces, and a new school. Or, as Bob Birkebile likes to call it, urban acupuncture. And Westport will be starting its therapy soon enough.
As part of both the middle and the high school will be converted into affordable living, community members are excited of another place for apartment living in the Hyde Park area. Many community members would love to live in Hyde Park, but cannot afford a house in the neighborhood. The addition of apartments off of 39th & Gillham is a welcomed addition to the housing community.
Both Birkebile and Foutch are both busy finalizing their proposals which they will resubmit to the Kansas City School Board soon to be voted on. Results of this vote will decide who the Westport High School will be sold to and how that space will be used.
- Bob Berkebile: Principal with BNIM
- Steve Foutch: Foutch Bros, LLC.