City Garden Montessori

Commercial, Neighborhood

City Garden Montessori Charter School is a grass roots public charter school serving children from pre-school through 8th grade. The school serves the children in the Shaw, Botanical Heights, and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods and consistently rates as one of the top performing schools in the State of Missouri. Like many community initiated charter schools, City Garden began with kindergarteners and first graders only. As the children aged through the school and new students came into the kindergarten level, the school grows to its planned size. The funding formula is based on a per student allocation from the state, so in these early years, charter schools have to be smart about their expenses and facility choices.

When the City Garden board and staff began working with UIC, they had been operating for three years in the basement of a generous church, but were facing an impending crunch of space as their enrollment expanded. At the same time, they were not quite to 50% of the eventual enrolment and with this the funding to make the next step in their facilities need. Working collaboratively with City Garden, the community, and our lending partners, UIC developed a financially viable facility solution that would allow for a new long term facility on an escalating lease plan that modeled the school’s growth, with later options for purchasing the building. This allowed the school to move into the facility they needed on the terms that fit their budget, and concentrate their efforts on educating children and positively impacting the community.

UIC’s design and construction teams followed the development process, creating an exceptional design in this 1940’s warehouse building, on a short timeline. This once nearly abandoned and boarded up building, now features large naturally lit classrooms, a central atrium space, gymnasium and pending LEED certification.

To find out more about City Garden, please visit