Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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John Paul II Commons: A new home for students

Chelsea Engstrom

Reese Bentzinger


The John Paul II Commons was always meant to be student housing.

So, when UMKC needed a place to house many of their displaced students, things naturally fell into place.

“Bad things and good things happened at the same time,” said leasing specialist Seth Thomas.

Developers remodeled the bones of an old Catholic elementary school into fresh, modern student housing. It will also serve as a gathering place for faith-based students.

The Commons opened its doors to residents for the first time this fall.

Not all students living there were forced out by the closure of Oak Place Apartments, however.

Freshman Kayla Krigbaum decided to live at the Commons instead of in UMKC housing. According to her, the rent is comparable to on-campus housing fees, but she gets more amenities for her money.

Even though the Commons is already bursting with activity, the facility isn’t fully completed. A sign calling for students to lease a space when the building is completed in December still hangs on the outside.

“We’re working on finishing the second student lounge and a couple of units,” Thomas said.

Students like William Mangum say they aren’t bothered by the continued construction.

In fact, Mangum prefers the Commons to UMKC housing.

“It’s better than Oak Street,” Mangum said.

Student-tenants live in what Thomas calls “pods.” Each person has a private room, but shares a large bathroom and a kitchenette with three or four other neighbors.

The Commons has a future as leased housing for UMKC and Rockhurst students. For now, though, it is a haven for students unable to live on campus.


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