CSU says new master plan is not fixed in place, first funding secured
Cleveland State's chief financial officer, David Jewell, said Feb. 8 that the $650 million plan to revitalize the university is still very much a work in progress.
“We need to have a framework that is flexible and adaptable,” CSU's senior vice president of business affairs and CFO told a public forum, regarding the master plan that was announced in November 2022.
CSU officials presented the audience, which filled the Fenn Tower Ballroom on campus, with details of the master plan and showed what the new campus could look like.
Jewell chaired the forum and explained that this is still just a plan and an outline of what the university would want to do.
In his presentation, the university's CFO emphasized that the re-envisioned campus is what the university wants to do, but he cautioned that even things like the location of the campus in the heart of Cleveland present problems that need to be resolved for the plan to go ahead.
Jewell highlighted the academic core that the school is working to realize with new academic buildings behind the Music and Communication building and another connected to Rhodes Tower.
He noted that funding has been secured for one of the first buildings envisaged in the revitalized academic core and that the board of trustees has signed off on the project. However, a start date of construction has not been settled.
In the Q&A following the presentation, a particular concern of some was the issue of parking, which had come up in an earlier online forum.
The administration said parking would to be maintained with the number of spaces currently available, stressing that as the majority of CSU students are commuters, it was essential to have enough parking spaces.
The master plan would convert the top level of the parking garage on 22nd street into a green space and a quad for students to socialize. That space would connect the proposed building behind the Music and Communication building to the heart of the new academic core.
“We want to model environmental and economic sustainability,” Jewell said.
Another question asked about the safety of pedestrian residents and students, given the heavy traffic in the area. For example, on Nov. 5, 2021 a Cleveland Metropolitan School District Teacher was struck and killed by a dumptruck on the corner of East 21st St. and Chester Ave. while she was crossing the street.
Chester Ave is a wide street and drivers tend to speed along it, which put students at risk when crossing the road. Efforts envisaged in the plan to address this include putting elevated crosswalks on Chester Ave.
CSU’s purchase of the Langston Apartments on Chester Ave. is also factored into the plan, with another green social space for students with seating, a basketball court and a bonfire area, while maintaining the parking spaces for residents to make a housing community.
Green areas will be built and trees will be planted around CSU to bring more life to the campus.
Another question dealt with the issues that are facing Rhodes Tower regarding asbestos.
Asbestos exposure can be linked directly to the development of mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs and abdomen. The heat- resistant fibered mineral can also lead to absestosis, a progressive lung disease.
The plans for Rhodes Tower include maintaining the main floor as library space and transforming the rest of the floors into dorms for students.
To answer the question on asbestos, Jewell said that asbestos is still inside the tower but that the university has received the funding to remove it.
Jewell said the new housing options in the plan reflect in part CSU's efforts to raise enrolment rates, including through out-of-state and international recruitment.