New plans for old Horace Mann School - KCTV5

New plans for old Horace Mann School

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One neighborhood group had big plans for the old Horace Mann School before it caught fire two years ago. Now there are plans in the works to tear it down and neighbors say it's about time.

It's hard to tell by looking at it now, but the old Horace Mann School at 39th Street and U.S. Highway 71 was once a strong part of the community.

"That was one of the things in choosing this house," neighbor Ida Dockery said.

The Kansas City School District closed it in 1979 and these days the building is known for its charred exterior and being an eyesore for neighbors in the Ivanhoe area.

Dockery, who has lived in her home since 1960, said it's crying out for help.

"To me it says, ‘do something with me,'" she said. "Something needs to be done. It's not good."

Margaret May with the Ivanhoe Neighborhood had the same idea in mind when her organization bought the building with the goal of converting it into apartments for seniors. But then it caught fire and the plans changed.

"We had hopes that, once we got the fire debris out of it, that the school would be stable enough to go ahead with our plans but, unfortunately, it's not," May said.

The building has now been targeted for demolition. This week City Councilman Jermaine Reed introduced an ordinance, with the neighborhood association's blessing, to tear down the building and four nearby houses.

"We felt it was important for the neighborhood to do something about it and improve the appearance, so people would not think Ivanhoe looks like that building," May said.

Demolition could happen within two months and Dockery said she couldn't be happier.

"I hope the neighborhood will continue to improve and people will move back in. I'm looking forward to it," she said.

The ordinance passed the full council and demolition on the old school and four houses should happen within two months.

The neighborhood association is still moving forward with its plans to build senior housing. Construction could start as early as summer.

The Ivanhoe Neighborhood is considered a food desert, meaning people in the area have little access to affordable groceries. Last year the grocery chain ALDI announced it would build a store in the neighborhood at 39th Street and Prospect Avenue. They're hoping to open later this year.

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