The Cleveland Stater YouTube Channel Visit us at:

The Cleveland Stater Facebook Page The Cleveland Stater Twitter The Cleveland Stater YouTube Channel


March 23, 2015

Finance class project explores Midtown makeover

By Abbey White

In conjunction with local non-profit MidTown Cleveland, Inc. and Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor, graduate students from the Monte Ahuja College of Business presented at “Visions for Midtown” on Feb. 26.

The event, which was free and open to the public, featured Cleveland State finance students’ research on the potential for residential and mixed-use development of Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood.

Work from Kent State University’s Cleveland urban design graduate program and the Cleveland Institute of Art was also featured during the evening.

The effort was a collaboration between a second-year Cleveland State graduate course, KSU, CIA, MidTown Cleveland, Inc. and the Health-Tech Corridor.

Students from last fall’s real estate investments course spent several hours sharing and listening to urban planning, interior design and real estate pitches focused on the 200 blocks between University Circle and the Cleveland State campus.

The presentation, which took place at the Carnegie Avenue offices of Jumpstart — a local non-profit organization aimed at growing the economic impact of entrepreneurial enterprises —flowed from a broad to narrow redevelopment scope, according to Cleveland State adjunct and course professor Michael Niro.

Kent State was first to present, with its design of a possible urban park spanning between 10 and 20 blocks of the Midtown area. The second group to share its concepts was Cleveland State’s Ahuja graduate students.

“[My] class came in and looked at what you would specifically do with residential housing in different parts of Midtown Cleveland — this being more of the eastern end of Midtown and just east of Cleveland State’s campus,” Niro said.

The work was the end result of an entire term’s worth of work for Niro’s finance students.

“Each year — this is the third year I’ve done this — I pick a project that is concurrent with what’s happening around Cleveland,” Niro said. “They go through the curriculum and the whole curriculum is geared toward this final project. They are partnered up — this year we had five groups of two for the project geared toward mixed use or residential housing in Midtown Cleveland.”

Pitches included designs for a gated townhouse community near Dunham Park, as well as mixed use and residential development of the East 36th Street and Euclid Avenue block, among others.


The former, a plan for a residential property known as The Dunham Park Town Homes, incorporated 24 two- and three-bedroom homes lined along the Euclid Corridor with easy access to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Health Line.

Features of the gated community included a secure perimeter, community gardens, one-car garages and balconies.

“They drew up all the financials and did all the project analysis,” Niro said. “They also did the acquisition and site of limitation.”

The latter of the mentioned projects laid out plans for mixed use development with several different spaces. Focused on the East 36th Street and Euclid Avenue area, the site looked at several different parcels of land.

“These parcels are owned by different people so they had to put in a mark-up based on acquisition,” Niro said of students’ Mila Sambnjak and Christi Moncrief Yin’s Midtown Cleveland District Thirty-Six plan.

Following Cleveland State’s portion of the event, the Cleveland Institute of Art students shared their aesthetic interior designs for a vacant factory floor of the Victory Building at 7012 Euclid Ave.

Perhaps best known for its creative spin on traditional offices, the Victory Building serves as a co-working space -- or home for homeless businesses. Co-working spaces are a part of a new trend of nontraditional, freewheeling workspaces.

Overall, the night’s events and presentations went over well with participating groups as well as area developers who came to view the student proposals.

“The effort by all three institutions was very well received and the work was so interesting that we said, ‘Let’s have an event to show the work,’” Jim Haviland, executive director of MidTown Inc., told

The student work has sparked new conversations about ongoing plans for a sector of the city that has in recent years experienced a redevelopment push, according to Jeff Esptein, director of the Health-Tech Corridor.

“Midtown has simultaneously commissioned with this a residential feasibility study and is actively pursuing some residential deals,” Epstein said. “Work that CSU students did help to identify some sites and stimulate some creative thinking around what could be possible.”

For some of the Cleveland State students, the success of their projects during the February event will see their work from last fall going even further beyond the classroom.

“Knowing several people at Midtown and knowing the importance of East 36th and Euclid Avenue, we have a meeting to discuss the potential implementation of the Duham Townhomes project happening this Saturday,” Niro said. “The students coming into the investgroup meeting are presenting their findings -- everything from acquisition costs, ownership structure, all the way down to rental costs per unit and the build-out costs of the project.”

For local organizations that partnered with the college, like Epstein’s Health-Tech Corridor, the work produced during events such as this only encourages future collaboration.

“We love working with Cleveland State students,” Epstein said. “We think very highly of the quality and caliber of Cleveland State students. There’s a lot of contributions they can help make towards the community and economic development.”

“The purpose of the organization is to make sure the students have a positive campus experience – that they enjoy being students and take pride in being a Viking,” said Kathleen Kulik, SAA advisor and coordinator of Young Alumni Engagement for the Office of Alumni Relations. “But going beyond that, I think the thing that makes SAA unique is that most organizations on campus are focused on the here and now. We’re focused on ‘What does it mean to be a Viking beyond these last four years of college?’”

Despite the age difference between the two groups, both were quite similar in goal and function. In addition, the Student Alumni Association already possessed all of the tools for successful operation, like a constitution, while the Presidential Student Ambassadors, as a newer organization, did not. This made the unification seem like a natural next step to strengthen both bodies.

After the merger, however, the two still appeared to be operating as separate entities despite their new affiliation.

“When explaining the SAA [and] PSA program before, it became difficult to explain to the student body what it meant to be an SAA member and how you move up to becoming a PSA member,” Dickson said. “With this explanation, it appeared as if there was a separation between organizations.”

Both student organizations and the Office of Alumni Relations hope the rebranding that is to come in the following months will “create a more cohesive organization,” according to Dickson.

“Whether a general member or a Presidential Student Ambassador, we are all striving to build a sense of community and camaraderie among the Cleveland State campus and engage ourselves with the community,” Dickson said.

As of now, the Student Alumni Association follows a hierarchical membership scheme where basic participation puts students at the general membership level. There is then a closed application process, during which members can apply to be Presidential Student Ambassadors following their first semester.

The actual re-naming process was simple and was brought to the table as the final part of the constitution revision work at their winter 2015 retreat.

Being a part of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s Affiliated Student Advancement Program (CASE ASAP), members of the Student Alumni Association were able to look at other organizations across the nation doing similar work, and take their branding into consideration when suggesting potential names for the SAA, according to Kulik.

“There were a lot of suggestions on the table and I think a lot of the students felt that the 1964 Society had a nice ring to it, but that it also aligned more closely with the level of leaders they’re trying to bring into the organization,” Kulik said.

Other names considered by current membership were the Student Alumni Association, the Student Alumni Council, the Student Alumni Ambassadors and the Green and White Society.

Ultimately, for those directly involved with the student organization like Dickson and Kulik, the name change seems to bring with it the hope for strengthened internal ties and a clearer identity for both its members and the campus community.

“All of our members are equally valuable and what they bring to the organization is priceless,” Dickson said. “With a single title, my hope is that our members will feel a sense of belonging and identity to the organization.”