A unique partnership involving the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, the City of Lee’s Summit and Gale Communities is responsible for a project that captures the best of historic preservation, public education and community while saving taxpayer dollars.
The result of this partnership is Longview Farm Elementary School, scheduled to open in August 2005. This approximately 650-student school is operated by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, one of Missouri’s fastest growing districts. Due to rapid enrollment growth, the R-7 Board of Education and administration have sought alternative methods of financing the numerous new schools needed to keep up with additional students.
At the same time the R-7 School District was seeking alternative methods to finance growth needs, a Lee’s Summit-based developer was initiating a major residential and commercial development project to include components of both historic preservation and alternative funding. Known as New Longview, this approximately 260-acre project includes a “walkable village” based on the design of traditional neighborhoods built during the early 1900s as well as a commercial district, parks and green space. Gale Communities purchased the remaining undeveloped portion of the historic Longview Farm in 2001 with the goal of building a sustainable community while saving as many of the farm’s classic, historic structures as possible. Longview Farm, built by visionary lumber baron and philanthropist Robert A. Long in the 1910s, was originally constructed on 1,700 acres and featured over 42 structures. One of the farm’s most noteworthy buildings was the Longview Show Horse Arena.
During the 2001-02 school year, David Gale, founder of Gale Communities, initially approached Dr. Tony Stansberry, Lee’s Summit School District superintendent, and the R-7 Board of Education with the idea of renovating the Show Horse Arena into an elementary school. This idea became reality through a partnership involving the R-7 School District, Gale Communities and the City of Lee’s Summit. Thanks to approval of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement by the City of Lee’s Summit, Gale Communities is receiving TIF monies to help fund preservation of several historic structures. Also through this TIF agreement, Gale Communities is constructing and transferring the elementary school to the R-7 School District at a significant savings. The Lee’s Summit developer is providing approximately $3.7 million of the school’s $13.2 million cost, a significant savings for local taxpayers. Voter approval of an April 2004 no-tax-increase bond issue funds the school district’s approximately $9.5 million cost for the school. Architect for the project is the Hollis & Miller Group Inc., and contractor is A.L. Huber General Contractor. Both firms are known for their expertise in historic preservation.
This project is especially exciting to the Lee’s Summit community, as many citizens have hoped for a sustainable use for the historic Longview Farm, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although well maintained for decades by the Long family, the many farm buildings as well as the grounds had begun to decline by the 1970s. With the opening of Longview Farm Elementary and Gale Communities’ additional efforts to preserve the farm’s historic attributes, Longview Farm is on its way to becoming a unique national treasure.
The community is invited to attend a dedication ceremony for Longview Farm Elementary School at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9th, 2005, at the school, 1001 SW Longview Farm Road.
|The Longview Farm
© Copyright 2005