KC Plan Commission delays decision on St. Francis Xavier School future

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It is easy to see that something needs to be done at the former St. Francis Xavier School in Kansas City, Mo. Agreeing on what to do, however, is the hard part.

The plan to revamp the property, which has been vacant for ten years, faces another delay. Tuesday morning, the City Plan Commission voted to table its decision on the project until November 6, citing poor communication between the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph and neighbors.

The diocese owns the building at 52nd and Troost. It wants to tear down the school for a five-story, 103-unit apartment building, aimed toward attracting students at Rockhurst University and the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Neighbors have plenty of problems with the plan, from parking issues, to its size and appearance. But at the root of it all, they say, is poor communication from the diocese.

"This is engagement of an adversarial nature rather than a collaborative one," said neighbor Les Klein.

Neighbors met with project developer Tri-North Builders at a public forum on August 14, but the diocese was absent.

Diocese chancellor Jude Huntz said he was on vacation and it was his understanding someone else would be in attendance.

"Apparently nobody else was, nobody else attended and I'm sorry that didn't happen," said Huntz.

He said more problems occurred with the pastor at the parish, who the diocese thought was communicating the plan with parishioners and neighbors but wasn't.

"We need to have one speaker, one person who handles all those things," said Huntz.

Neighbors and parishioners said they are weary about the project, going into the future.

"To say the least, the process has been less than transparent and has created more mistrust of the Kansas City - St. Joseph diocese and how it operates," said parishioner Shelly Scarborough.

Huntz said the diocese plans to have a lot of communication with neighbors before the November meeting.

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