St. Louis officials discuss options to revitalize vacant school - KMOV.com

St. Louis officials discuss options to revitalize vacant school properties

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(KMOV.com) -- Many neighborhood schools are still vacant with no clear plans for redevelopment.

Now officials at St. Louis Public Schools are looking for ways to revitalize the properties.

They say there are many redevelopment options for vacant schools like Simmons in North St. Louis.

Most residents also want to see redevelopment and they've got one major idea in mind.

"It looks dead. It needs to be revitalized,” said William Moore, who's lived near Simmons Middle School for more than 30 years. He wants it turned into a magnet school.

"I get tired of seeing the kids being bused out of the neighborhoods. I think the neighborhood control is better. The parents can control the behavior and also can increase the opportunity for learning,” he said.

Residents who live nearby agreed.

"It's dangerous in the morning. They have to get up so early. So if they don't have the parents to walk them to the stop or something like that, it's pretty dangerous,” said Roosevelt. Nelson.

Officials at St. Louis Public Schools said re-developing the building into another school is not on their radar.

News 4 spoke with the district's director of real estate Walker Gaffney over the phone.

He says the school was initially closed due to declining enrollment so rehab options range from offices, apartments to community centers.

Moore is open to those ideas too.

"It would increase the property value, it would allow taxation,” he said.

That's why the district is holding tours of the vacant schools. Gaffney says they want feedback from residents.

They hope to take those ideas along with that of a technical advisory committee, to form an actual plan in the latter half of June.

"It would be a niche of improvement. It takes a lot to do it but we need a complete revitalization of the area really in my opinion,” Moore said.

They'll be various opportunities starting April 20th for tours of the vacant buildings.

Here is a link to those dates. 

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