A Kansas City development company hasn’t completely struck out in Independence with its revitalization efforts.

A Kansas City development company hasn’t completely struck out in Independence with its revitalization efforts.

While Garrison Companies’ plans to rehabilitate the former Anderson Elementary School were met with neighbor-led skepticism Tuesday night, a separate neighborhood in western Independence embraced plans for the former Mt. Washington Elementary School.

The Independence Planning Commission recommended approval, 3-1, of rezoning the former school from Residential-12 to Residential-30 for moderately fixed-income senior citizens. The zoning is based on the number of dwelling units per acre, with the R-30 zoning allowing up to 78 dwelling units for the 2.6-acre property.

According to Gary Hassenflu, president of Garrison Companies, the school at 570 S. Evanston Ave. would be rehabilitated according to historic preservation standards. The classrooms would be converted into one- and two-bedroom living units, and the former gymnasium would become a community room.

A second building on the site’s northeast corner would be constructed after the initial phase, Hassenflu said, and would contain 36 units.

“It’s an opportunity to save a great treasure in the area,” said Hassenflu, whose company also is credited with the Cold Storage Lofts in Kansas City. “We’re going to keep this as a quality residential area.”

Don Ross, who resides across the street from Mt. Washington Elementary School on South Evanston Avenue, supports the Garrison proposal, though he hopes the developer will continue to sponsor neighborhood meetings as progress takes place.

“I think the housing in Fairmount has been successful and has filled a need,” Ross said of the Fairmount Plaza Apartments, a complex on South Huttig Avenue for low-income senior citizens that the NorthWest Communities Development Corporation helped develop in 2002.

Ross also said the annexation of seven Independence schools that were once located in the Kansas City School District, including Mt. Washington Elementary School, was significant in revitalizing his neighborhood.

“That was a big, big step in the long overdue recovery of the Mt. Washington area,” Ross said. “Our area can’t afford any more missteps.”

The NorthWest Communities Development Corporation will partner with Garrison Companies in rehabilitating the Mt. Washington facility.

“I’m just tickled to death that Gary is willing to partner with the community with this project,” said Bill Rogers, the NWCDC’s interim director.

Commission members Karen DeLuccie and Pat Campbell said they support Residential-30 housing and agree that it would provide a needed benefit to the community.

“I appreciate the developer bringing in those kinds of capital funds to that part of the city,” Campbell said. “I’d love to see that kind of investment in that community. That’s huge.”

Chairman Les Boatright voted against the proposal, citing that Residential-30 housing would negatively affect the surrounding infrastructure and neighbors with excessive traffic and lights. City staff also recommended denial of the application but recommended Residential-18 rezoning.

“That’s an awful lot in that area,” said Boatright, adding that he would support lower-density senior housing for the project. If the commission had approved Residential-18 housing at the city’s request, the housing would have had 21 fewer units.

The project will go before a final vote of the Independence City Council at an upcoming council meeting.