SLPS hopes to turn vacant school building to teacher housing - KMOV.com

SLPS hopes to turn vacant school building to teacher housing

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The Wilkinson School (Credit: KMOV) The Wilkinson School (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Plans are underway to turn a vacant St. Louis Public School District building into affordable housing for teachers.

The district’s director of real estate, Walker Gaffney, said the vacant buildings are the result of declining enrollment.

The district has sold 25 of them so far with eight converted into apartments.

The goal is to now turn the Wilkinson school building into an apartment, but specifically for teachers. Wilkinson has been closed since 2008 and sits dormant around several homes.

Gaffney said that's one of the reasons a renovation is needed.

“It’s good for the neighborhood to have an empty building go back to use of something. Number two it’s a credit to the district that they can help us attract good teachers instead of losing them to higher paying jobs in the county public schools,” he said.

The latter is a another big reason for the project.

“It’s specifically to prioritize public school teachers in the city of St. Louis and that can include St. Louis Public School teachers or charter teachers as well,” Gaffney said.

While the project is still in an early stage, a developer has already signed up to get the ball rolling.

“This is the due diligence phase. We’re under contract with this developer and they have a set period of time to study the building take the measurement and make sure that it will work but we’re optimistic that this will be a fabulous building for teachers,” Gaffney said.

The developer will own the building, because neither the district or the city is putting any money into it, which means the developer will also manage the building.

Ultimately, the success of the project will lay the ground work for future building renovations.

“We’d love to replicate this across the city. We have empty schools north central, south city. It’d be great to see more of these,” Gaffney said.

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