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Crispus Attucks Elementary School to become cultural arts center

Posted: 12:16 PM, Mar 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-01 13:16:53-05
Crispus Attucks Elementary School to become cultural arts center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The former Crispus Attucks Elementary School has new owners who have big plans for the space. 

The City of Kansas City announced Thursday it sold the school to the Zhou Brothers, internationally renowned contemporary artists, teachers, and lecturers, who are planning to convert the school into a new cultural arts center. The city said the sale includes the school, located at 1815 Woodland Ave., and the surrounding parking lot, a total of about 2.5 acres. 

According to a news release from the city, 

“The new center will nurture the creativity and growth of its resident artists while providing groundbreaking exhibitions to the public. It will create a collaborative environment for a thriving community of talented local artists and curators.” 

The current plan for the project includes: 

  • Artist studios 
  • A retail gallery 
  • Permanent gallery and exhibition space
  • Rehearsal studios for dance
  • Theatrical and performance space
  • A media technology center
  • A restaurant/cafe 
  • Recording studio
  • Sculpture garden

The news release said the Zhou Brothers expect to make a private capital investment of $2 million on Phase I of the three-phase redevelopment of Crispus Attucks. 

The three primary phases are: 

  • Phase I - Blight Removal 
  • Phase II - Occupancy and Initial Operation
  • Phase III - Tenant improvements and special exhibits

The city said the new development will anchor the east end of the 18th and Vine District. 

“We expect this new development to firmly anchor the east end of the District and further spark redevelopment across the area," Councilman Jermaine Reed said in the news release.

The Zhou Brothers have two other art centers, located in Chicago and Beijing, China. The Zhou B Art Center Kansas City will be their third location. According to the city’s news release, the Kansas City art center’s local owner’s representative is Allan S. Gray, II, who is a national leader in the arts community and Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. 

City Manager Troy Schulte said in the news release the Zhou Brothers are working with local businesses and community organizations where possible.