Construction is under way on the first phase of a new school building being constructed by St. Martin de Porres High School at the corner of Norwood and St. Clair avenues in Cleveland.
Groundbreaking for the $30 million project took place a year ago and the first students are expected to occupy the structure in the spring of 2018. About $21 million of the total project cost was raised during the first phase. The campaign for the second phase will start later this year, school officials said.
The new structure is rising behind a landmark building, dubbed “Coppertop,” across the street and a block north of the former St. Vitus School at 6111 Lausche Ave., which the 400-student coeducational high school has been leasing in five-year increments since it opened in 2004. St. Martin de Porres is part of the Cristo Rey Network of schools that provide college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience through the Corporate Work Study Program. It was honored by Gov. John Kasich late last year for its work study program that Kasich said “meets the challenges of training students for 21st century jobs.”
Because of space limitations, the high school also uses two temporary modular units for some classes and programs.
The new school building is incorporating an old structure on St. Clair that dates to about 1909. The building, recognizable for ornate twin copper domes on its east and west sides, had a rear addition that was used for a time as apartments. After the furniture store moved out, the store had other retail uses, including serving as an early location for the Cleveland Flea, a monthly event at which vendors including salvage and vintage dealers, artists, crafters and bakers sell their wares.
After the high school purchased the property, the addition was demolished. Richard Clark, St. Martin de Porres president, said they wanted to retain the old Coppertop building, which he called a neighborhood gem. “Cristo Rey schools are neighborhood schools, so it made sense to keep the building,” he said.
The first floor of the former furniture store will provide space for art and music programs. “We want the neighborhood to be able to see what we’re doing,” Clark said. “There will be a lot of openness in the building.”
Also included in the first phase of construction will be a multipurpose student commons area, the cafeteria and classrooms. A learning community, counseling and college counseling will occupy the second floor. The new structure rising behind the Coppertop building will have three floors.
The second phase, which will rise to the east of the Coppertop, will include additional educational space. Plans call for the project to be completed in two years.
School officials said the new building will allow for enrollment growth and could accommodate up to 525 students. As enrollment climbed during its first decade of operation, the school ran out of space in the St. Vitus building and added a pair of modular classrooms on Lausche Avenue, across the street and just east of the current building.