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Dec. 8, 2014

Board of Trustees approves new campus master plan

By Jaclyn Seymour

The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees officially approved the master plan Wednesday, Nov. 19. Students have voiced their concerns about the future of the university, and SmithGroupJJR responded to their concerns.

Mary Jukuri, principal and senior campus planner from SmithGroupJJR, said that the master plan is aimed at being a 10-15 year plan, but the timing of specific projects depend on funding availability.

“There are some projects that will likely extend beyond this timeframe,” Jukuri said. “Particularly those described in the long-term phasing.”

With Cleveland State’s commuter identity being a hot topic, most students’ concerns pertained to the fear of losing parking.

Jukuri explained that no parking would be lost.

“First, we have revised the master plan to show no net loss of campus parking spaces,” Jukuri said. “Since we assume future enrollment will be similar to today’s enrollment, we are saying CSU should maintain about the same amount of parking as they have currently.”

The plan is to take down the top two floors of the Central Garage. However, Jukuri said that Cleveland State can’t take down the top two floors until a replacement parking garage has been built.

“We show the new garage and removal of the upper levels of the Central Garage both within the mid-term phase, approximately 8-15 years out,” Jukuri said. “The new garage would have to be built first. Expansion of the central quad over the lower level of parking would have to take place after all parking improvements are done.”

The Central Garage holds 915 parking spaces. Removing the top two floors would leave 315 spaces that will include Americans with Disability Act (ADA) parking. ADA parking will also be maintained in the new garage proposed to be built west of the current Central Garage between East 18th and 19th Street.

“This site [the proposed land for the new garage] is currently green space and surface space,” Jukuri said. “We can accommodate up to 600 spaces in this location.”

Because of the age of the Central Garage, Jukuri said the facility would require replacement within the 10-year timeframe anyway.

The company also conducted a study on the utilization of all campus parking during the peak periods on campus, finding that the South and West Garages are underutilized.

“We propose increasing the use of existing parking spaces and garages on campus,” Jurkuri said. “This may require some operational changes to encourage better distribution among all the parking lots on campus, and better technology to communicate what spaces are available, to reduce time looking for parking.”

The same amount of parking Cleveland State currently contains will be maintained through the proposed recommendations of the plan.

During SmithGroupJJR campus visits, through the student’s feedback on wanting to increase food location and hours on campus, the master plan proposed more informal gathering spaces for students on campus through renovations to buildings, such as Rhodes Tower, Main Classroom, Engineering and Science, improvements to the innerlink, according to Jurkuri.

“Each of these opportunities can include some variety of food options from vending, to grab and go, to a small coffee shop or café,” she said. “We have not specified the exact locations. That needs to be determined when funding is available for specific projects and renovations.”

As for the extended hours, she said that is something Cleveland State may want to consider as an operational change.

Another hot topic through out the years has been Rhodes Tower. Jurkuri explained that in the master plan, Rhodes Tower would be an ongoing renovation to improve the building for useable space.

“Rhodes Tower will need ongoing renovations to improve its elevator service and increase its useable floor space for new office and swing space for future projects,” she explained. “If this is accomplished in the short-term (phase), it can provide much needed swing space for renovation of other existing buildings.”

According to Jurkuri, many discussions on the future of the Chester Building have happened.

In SmithGroupJJR’s interviews with the provost and the deans of all the colleges, the Engineering and the College of Sciences and Health Professions majors are expected to grow – requiring specialized class labs and research labs, which Jurkuri said are lacking on campus.

“It made the most sense to look for opportunities to expand upon the existing science and engineering complex,” she said. “The existing Chester Building is not easily adaptable to modern engineering and science lab requirements, however its location is ideal to provide new, modern research and instructional lab space.”

As for the current programs and offices held in the Chester Building, the company has recommended that there be a follow-up programming study and interviews with the departments within the current building to make sure their space needs are understood and to identify the right locations for them on campus.

Jurkuri said the campus master plan is meant to have some flexibility.

“It is a tool to communicate ideas and establish priorities, not to mandate to build,” she explained. “The master plan points out existing and future needs and opportunities. Any future projects will need additional planning, programming and design when funding is identified prior to construction. CSU has completed several projects in recent years that have enhanced campus and created a more positive urban and academic environment. We think CSU can continue that trend over the next 10 years.”