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Plan For Co-Working Space In Westport Middle School Emerges


In recent years, Kansas City has emerged as a startup hub. Now, the metro's burgeoning tech community will soon have a centerpiece space in which to do its work. 

Startland News is reporting that the old Westport Middle School building on 39th Street east of Main Street will be made into what its developers bill as the biggest co-working space anywhere. They hope to be able to open the redeveloped property sometime late next year.

Kansas City Sustainable Development Partners, a group headed by architect Bob Berkebile, purchased Westport Middle School a few years ago, with designs to make it into a "center for community vitality."That group is now partnering with Lenexa-based Plexpod to refashion the space into one geared towards entrepreneurs, complete with office space, an incubator, maker's studio and event space. 

Westport Middle is an unprecedentedly large building in which to put such a 'co-working space.'The old school, which has stood vacant since 2010, is 160,00o-square feet and has 55 classrooms, a cafeteria, two gyms, and an auditorium. In contrast, the largest co-working space in Virginia which opened up this week outside Washington, D.C. is 42,000 square feet. 

KC Sustainable Development Partners also was given the green light recently to purchase the old Westport High School, across 39th Street from Westport Middle. The group estimates the total price tag for developing the entire 'Westport Commons' campus to be about $23 million. Final plans for what to do with the Westport High building are still being finalized. 

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster and reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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