HyVee No More!
The nearly vacant shopping strip at 122nd and State Line will soon have life.
By Jill Draper
Barstow School has announced plans to buy the vacant Hy-Vee grocery store building at 122nd Street and State Line Road in Leawood. The private preK-12 school says it will use the space for its early childhood program and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities, including afterschool and winter break offerings that will be open to students from other schools.
The goal for the 62,680-square-foot building is to include a makerspace, music and performance studios and a center for robotics, says Kellye Crockett, director of admissions and marketing. The school also hopes to offer a program for babies and toddlers starting at six weeks old.
The school’s agreement to purchase the building was announced at the July 16 Leawood City Council meeting. The sale is expected to receive formal approval following inspections and permits by September, and a portion of the new space should be open by fall 2019, according to M. Ashley Stroud, Barstow’s director of external affairs.
The announcement comes on the heels of vigorous discussion about the vacant property on the community forum Nextdoor.com. Earlier this month nearby residents described it as an eyesore, complaining about trash, weeds and crumbling curbs. The area was tidied up by mid-July, and most seemed pleased with the Barstow announcement, expressing hopes it will serve as a catalyst for renewed interest in other empty properties at the shopping center. The Hy-Vee store has been vacant since 2014 when the City of Leawood refused its request for a sales tax increase to fund $1 million for interior improvements.
Crockett and Stroud are part of a Barstow team working with Hollis + Miller Architects on ideas for redesigning the store space. Both the interior and exterior will be changed, Crockett says, and an outdoor play area will be added. The entrance likely will be located at the covered area where customers once picked up groceries. The property is valued by Johnson County at nearly $3.2 million and comes with 170 parking spots.
The new space is .8 mile from Barstow’s main 40-acre campus on the Missouri side at 11511 State Line Road. Crockett says enrollment has remained steady for the past three years at 720 to 725 students, and there are no plans to move any divisions of the school to the Hy-Vee site. Rather, the extra space will make possible the expansion of amenities like the robotics lab, which currently doubles as a physics classroom.
“We consider the purchase an endowment diversification and an incredible investment in the community,” Crockett says, adding that Barstow hopes to interact with families of all economic levels through new partnerships with local organizations for afterschool, evening, weekend and summer programs.
Founded in 1884, Barstow is Kansas City’s oldest independent, co-ed college prep school. Barstow moved to its current location in 1962, relocating from 5110 Cherry St. Other new investments and partnerships in the past 10 years include opening two English-speaking schools in China, formalizing a program to attract foreign students and creating a worldwide consortium for online learning.