Lawrence school board approves sale of East Heights building for affordable housing project

photo by: Richard Gwin

East Heights School building at 1430 Haskell Ave.

The Lawrence school board on Monday unanimously approved the sale of the former East Heights Elementary School building to Flint Hills Holding Group LLC for $875,000.

The Flint Hills group is led by developer Tony Krsnich, who is known for numerous income-affordable housing projects in Lawrence, particularly in eastern Lawrence.

The group’s plan is to develop 40 to 55 single-family homes on the approximately four-acre property at 1430 Haskell Ave. as rental units, as well as an on-site day care, green space and other amenities.

Krsnich’s group was the only party to submit a proposal to the district, and the sale is contingent upon his group receiving a Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which the group has indicated it has confidence in receiving. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is a federal program that gives developers tax credits to help with the costs of building rental housing.

Part of the East Heights deal is that the Flint Hills group will pay $100,000 in carrying costs to the district to maintain the building inside and out for the next two years as Flint Hills waits to see if it wins the federal tax credit.

As the Journal-World reported, the school district in May of last year voted to sell the former East Heights building, which has been empty for the past year and hadn’t served as an elementary for the past 21 years, having closed in 2003.

The district had been using the building, built in 1954, for its Community Transition (C-Tran) program, which provides workplace and independent living skills training and special education services for people ages 18 to 21. The C-Tran program moved into the building that formerly housed Pinckney Elementary, which the school board voted to close as a school last spring.

The sale proceeds from East Heights will go to the district’s capital outlay fund. The deal is expected to close no later than March 31, 2027.

In other business, the board approved as part of its consent agenda increased costs for health insurance for district employees. The 2024-25 plan for medical coverage increased 21.7%, from $602 a month last year to $727, and the cost for dental coverage increased 4%. The estimated cost to the district for medical, dental and vision (which did not increase) will be just over $2.1 million. Board member Shannon Kimball pointed out that the increase was “significant” and that the Lawrence district is “special” in providing full coverage to its employees.

The board also approved 7-0 what it called a “settlement agreement” following a brief executive session. No details about the agreement were provided. The Journal-World has requested information about the settlement under the Kansas Open Records Act.


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