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Cleveland High School redevelopment is moving forward starting with community input

The shuttered Grover Cleveland High School {on wdat}, in Dutchtown.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The shuttered Grover Cleveland High School in Dutchtown

The redevelopment of Cleveland High School in south St. Louis is beginning to move forward, starting with input from the surrounding community.

Hundreds of Dutchtown residents and Cleveland graduates gathered Wednesday night to hear developer Chris Goodson’s ideas for the former school and ask questions or offer feedback about the project.

“This is to listen to everything,” Goodson said. “We need to hear from you all. This is going to be a long process. We’re not digging dirt and cutting ribbon next week.”

Goodson was optimistic about the old high school’s potential in transforming the community in Dutchtown. He shared how this redevelopment project bears close similarity to the successful one he did with City Hospital in Lafayette Square decades ago.

“Ironically, it’s very similar to Cleveland,” he said, “10 acres of an abandoned site right in the middle of development that was starting to pop, an abandoned building of 300,000 square feet.”

Throughout the meeting Goodson fielded questions that touched on what St. Louisans want to see in the redeveloped site — the desire for sustainability to be a core part of the project, open space for recreation, including jogging or basketball, a dog park and many other suggestions.

“All options are on the table,” Goodson said. “This is our city, our place to live. That’s how I feel about this area in south St. Louis.”

Dutchtown Main Streets President LaTasha Smith said the meeting was a prime opportunity for Goodson to meet the community where he wants to redevelop.

“They came in, they were positive, empowered, hopeful. They provided feedback,” she said. “And they made it clear to Mr. Goodson or any developer that’s coming into Dutchtown that this is their community. They’ll have a voice at the table for what’s to come to the neighborhood.”

Anyone who is interested in updates on the project or has feedback for the developers can sign up for updates as well, Smith said.

“That starts today,” she said. “We’ve provided the public, the residents of Dutchtown, a (link) where they can leave their feedback now.”

Alderman Shane Cohn, who represents Ward 3, which includes Cleveland High School, said the redevelopment presents a chance to make an asset for all of south city. He challenged people to consider the reasons they leave south St. Louis, whether that’s for recreation or shopping at a retail outlet.

“Almost half of the city's population lives within a couple-mile radius of this facility,” Cohn said. “It’s an opportunity to look at what St. Louis residents are leaving the city to do, what they’re leaving the city to buy and how we might be able to bring those resources, businesses into our community.”

He added it’s a project he wants to see the broader St. Louis community offer input on, considering its position in the city, especially along one of the most used bus corridors in the region. Cohn added that the whole development will take years to complete.

“This is just the first phase, it’s very much in the conceptualization stages,” he said.

Use this form to receive updates or give feedback on the Cleveland High School development. 

Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.