|News||July 8, 2004|
Photos By Sean Payton
CSU begins renovation for landmark buildings
By Sean Payton
Cleveland State University is in the process of assessing the future of four of its buildings, all of which have been landmarked by the city of Cleveland and put on the National Register of Historical Places.
While some plans have been made for Fenn Tower and the Howe Mansion, the future of two of the buildings is not certain.
Jack Boyle, vice president for finance and business at CSU, said the Corlett building, which is being leased by Cleveland Municipal Schools, is in need of the most renovation and may not be in the future plans of the university. The school districts lease for the building is through the end of Cleveland’s 2005 school year.
The Corlett Building, built in 1914, was a replacement for the Victorian-era home of Dr. William Corlett. Initial zoning codes permitted residential and commercial properties to mix, allowing old mansions like Corlett to be converted to commercial use. Its initial use was that of a Cleveland Cadillac dealership, then as the home of Downtown Chevrolet from 1925-1965.
The problem with the Corlett Building is that it is not set up for use at this point as a university structure. “While Corlett is historical, it doesn’t work well as a university building,” Boyle said.
“In order to make Corlett usable for CSU it’s going to cost $10 million,” he continued, “of that, practically 5 million you have to use to eliminate asbestos, fix elevators and heating and air conditioning, and for reinforcement of the structure.”
“A substantial amount of wall work needs to be done to restore Corlett,” Boyle added. “Basically, for Cleveland Schools to continue to use the building, $5.8 million worth of renovation needs to be done.”
The Corlett Building has 45,000 square feet of space and is probably best suited for use from the private sector through a private individual or on the corporate level. “Lofts are an idea, and the possible use I’ve heard,” Boyle added.
“If its $10 million to renovate Corlett, it’s a tough call for us,” Boyle said. “It’s not cheaper to renovate. The building and land it occupies if sold would probably sell for between 2 and 2.5 million, which is cheap space with 45,000 square feet,” Boyle said.
Whether Corlett will be sold has not been decided yet and according to Boyle, the building is not regarded as being on the market.
The renovation that is taking place at Howe Mansion is going to be for the new home of the College of Graduate studies. Unlike Corlett, this building is being given a major facelift and is a definite part of CSU’s future.
Howe Mansion, located at 2258 Euclid Ave, was constructed in 1894. George William Howe owned the mansion. He was the director of the Guardian Trust Company, as well as the vice-president of the Citizens Savings and Banking Co. His civic duties included being the commissioner of police and the collector of customs for the Port of Cleveland. Howe was also one of the founders of the Cleveland Athletic Club.
“For Howe, we believe it is a worthwhile endeavor,” Boyle said. CSU’s money is going in to workable buildings with the most potential to serve future students. Corlett doesn’t seem to fit that mold. “Because of the students needs, it’s hard to justify spending $10 million to renovate that building,” Boyle said.
Another historic CSU building has a plan but no funding. The plans for Mather Mansion encountered a setback recently, as CSU learned that a Campus Heritage Grant through the Getty Foundation to renovate and restructure Mather for more workable office space was denied. “We are reassessing thinking about a couple of other sources that we may apply to for grants both locally at the state level and federal level,” said Gretchen Jones, director of planned giving for CSU. “Also with the Getty Foundation, it has some smaller grants for individual buildings, and we may look to do that for Mather Mansion.”
Mather Mansion, located at 2121 Euclid Ave., was constructed in constructed in 1910, and was home to iron-mining millionaire Samuel Mather. Originally used by CSU for the African-American Cultural Center and First College, it now houses CSU’s Division of University Relations.
This 94-year-old mansion is not set up as a modern office structure. “The offices are big and beautiful, but not functional for modern offices,” Boyle said. The rooms were simply turned into offices.
“CSU would like to use it in the future as a location for the board to meet or for conference facilities, similar to the way Case Western Reserve University uses Gwinn Mansion in Bratenahl,” Boyle said.
The source of the funding for work on Mather is uncertain at this time. “We really haven’t sat down and mapped out our game plan,” Jones said “We are going to explore other avenues.”
“We may have to look toward private funds (donations) and people willing to donate money to restore Mather,” Boyle said.
Fenn Tower, like Howe, is already going through its alteration. Located at 1983 E. 24th St. and constructed in the late 1920s, this historical landmark is going to be renovated into dorms. The building, which originally housed Fenn College, was named after Sereno P. Fenn, the original chief benefactor of the college. Fenn donated his wealth to the educational work of the Cleveland YMCA, which sponsored classes such as bookkeeping and commercial law in the city of Cleveland.
This 75-year-old building had all of its offices moved to other campus locations, so that renovation can begin. It is expected to be open for fall semester 2006. The building will house around 450 people, with living quarters varying from traditional singles and doubles to apartments and multiple bed suites.
© 2004 The Cleveland Stater
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