Newark plans for a new public high school focused on architecture and building trades at site of former St. James Hospital

Newark is planning to transform the former hospital St James into a high school where students can study architecture and train to become plumbers and electricians.

The  School district entered into a lease last Thursday for the privately owned property at 155 Jefferson St.

 The lease for the building is estimated to be between $3-5 million per year and could extend for 20 years, at which time the district would be presented with the option to renew the lease or purchase the building

The School of Architecture and Interior Design is expected to open September 2022 at the site of the former St. James Hospital in the East Ward, and officials say the new school will relieve overcrowding at the community’s sole existing high school. The district will lease the privately owned property, rather than build a new campus.

The plan continues the district’s fast-paced expansion, which is intended to offer local families more options and potentially draw students away from private and charter schools and back into the district. And it adds another career-focused high school to the Newark Public Schools roster, in line with Superintendent Roger León’s emphasis on preparing students for professions as well as college.

The new high school will offer concentrations in architecture and skilled trades, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, which involves heating and cooling systems. Students who focus on the trades will apprentice under the district’s own skilled workers, officials said Thursday. The school will also offer a course for seniors who want to earn New Jersey real estate licenses.