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City of St. Clair School Reuse Plan

Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Project (2021)

Authors: Sam Burtnick, Wei-Han Chen, Kam Gates, Chris Mattei, and Kelsie Stuber


After years of declining enrollment and a failed bond effort, the East China School District has been faced with the tough choice of closing two elementary schools in the City of St. Clair. Eddy Elementary, which was built in the 1930s, was the oldest school in use in the district and one of the most costly to operate when it closed its doors after the 2018-2019 school year. The more recently built Gearing Elementary is scheduled to close in 2-3 years.   

Cutting a wide swath east to west through the City of St. Clair, these two contiguous schools and the land they occupy, represents a significant area in the middle of one of the city’s residential neighborhoods. While the school district is interested in selling the properties, they recognize the opportunity to work with the community and other stakeholders to establish a vision for how the school properties could be repurposed or redeveloped. One reoccurring idea that comes up in discussions of redevelopment includes a concept of diversified housing that would attract families and school-aged children to the district and community.  

Practicum students could study the schools and their redevelopment potential and help identify a strategy for redevelopment that could include resources such as the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Land Bank Authority. Other resources that could also potentially be brought to bear include the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and St. Clair County Community Foundation. 

Author Information

Students in the capstone Planning Practicum class in their final semester in the Urban and Regional Planning Program in the School of Planning Design and Construction at Michigan State University.

Faculty Member: Dr. Kotval

Community Client: Mr. Donaldson