KCMO Press Release
The City of Kansas City has sold the former Crispus Attucks Elementary School to the Zhou Brothers, internationally renowned contemporary artists, teachers, and lecturers, who have assembled a local redevelopment team that is planning to convert the school into a new cultural arts center. 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.
“New private dollars coming into 18th & Vine leverage the City’s investment, and the Zhou Brothers’ proposed private expenditures are unparalleled to date,” Third District City Councilman Jermaine Reed said. “We expect this new development to firmly anchor the east end of the District and further spark redevelopment across the area.”
The Zhou Brothers expect to make a private capital investment of $2 million on Phase I of the three-phase redevelopment of Attucks Elementary School. The current plan for the project will include artist studios, a retail gallery, a permanent gallery and exhibition space, rehearsal studios for dance, theatrical and performance space, a media technology center, a café/restaurant, a state-of-the-art recording studio, and sculpture garden, all showcased by a new contemporary façade and north entrance that will transform the entire building into a work of art.
“The presence of the acclaimed Zhou Brothers and their sincere desire to work with visual and performing artists will augment the cultural renaissance already underway in our City. This development will provide a new focal point for creative expression and collaboration in Kansas City,” Mayor Sly James said. “The opportunity to enhance our stature as an international centerpiece for art, music, drama, and dance will enrich the lives of our residents, while also attracting a new brand of tourist. This is an exciting development for 18th & Vine and Kansas City.”
The Zhou brothers currently have two other art centers located in Chicago and Beijing, China. The Zhou B Art Center Kansas City will be their third location. The Zhou B Art Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago is currently celebrating its 13th anniversary. 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 Kanas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.
“I have been impressed that the Zhou Brothers clearly understand the importance of working within the community and aligning their project with the continuing initiatives to develop the 18th & Vine District,” City Manager Troy Schulte said. “As part of their efforts, they are working closely with local businesses and community organizations where possible and incorporating these organizations into the project.”
The sale includes the school and the surrounding parking lot, a total of approximately 2.5 acres. The City has recently acquired ownership of other properties at 18th & Vine.
The Zhou Brothers are developing the project in three primary phases:
•Phase I Blight Removal
•Phase II Occupancy and Initial Operation
•Phase III Tenant Improvements & Special Exhibits
The school, located at 1815 Woodland Ave, was named after Crispus Attucks, an African-American man who was the first of five people killed in the Boston Massacre at the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1770. The first building was constructed in 1905 and the second in 1922. The building is t listed on the National Register of Historic Places.