In an effort to retain teachers, St. Louis schools may soon offer affordable housing for teachers inside a school building.

Soft SkillsThe Wilkinson School was home to St. Louis children for 80 years.  As enrollment declined, the handsome building succumbed to the same fate in 2008 as many city schools.  It closed.

Teachers are returning to Wilkinson, but not as teachers.  They are coming back as tenants.

St. Louis Public Schools Real Estate Director Walker Gaffney said that proposals were sought this summer to turn school building that are no longer in use into affordable housing for teachers.  They invited developers to present ideas for one or more projects.  The Wilkinson project is the first to be developed, with a possibility of converting it to 40 apartment units marketed to teachers.

It’s not the first time that schools have been converted to apartments in St. Louis, nor for affordable housing projects to target teachers.  However, the Wilkinson project seems to be the first which brings those two ideas together.

“We’d love to see this as a pilot that could be replicated in not only other SLPS buildings, but maybe other cities and states that are struggling to retain quality teachers,” said Donna Smith, of Smith NMTC Associates, LLC.

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