Saturday, January 09, 2010

CSU Wants to Move Footprint West

This is a good move for CSU as this will help free land for the center of the campus. This, in turn, will lead to further development of the Master Plan.

Cleveland State University Art Department could move to PlayhouseSquare's Middough Building
By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer
January 05, 2010, 6:29PM
middough.jpgChuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
Ron Ledin, president and CEO of Middough Inc., posed in 1997 front of the building his company just purchased in PlayhouseSquare. Middough may sell the building to Cleveland State University.

The art gallery at Cleveland State University may soon see the light of day.
The university administration is negotiating to buy an early 20th century office and loft building at 1901 E. 13th St. owned by Middough Inc., an architecture, engineering and management company with offices in 17 U.S. cities including Chicago, Atlanta and Phoenix.
The plan is to move the Art Department and the classroom and rehearsal spaces for the Theater Department from their present buildings off Chester Avenue at E. 23rd Street into the Middough building, located in the heart of the city's theater district, said John Boyle, the university's vice president for business and finance.
"We're hoping they can go to PlayhouseSquare," Boyle said.
The deal could mean relocating the busy CSU Art Gallery to the Haig Avedesian building at 1317 Euclid Avenue, where it could have frontage on the avenue, and proximity to the Middough building next door, Boyle said.
"That might be nice, actually," said George Mauersberger, chairman of the art department. "We wouldn't have our cavelike gallery."
The moves would be part of a series transactions designed to make way for a new housing development just north of campus, for which the university is soliciting bids from developers.
The timing of moving the art and theater departments depends on negotiations over a purchase price with Middough, although Boyle said he hoped the move could be accomplished by the fall of 2011.
Ron Ledin, Middough's president and CEO, said the discussions with CSU are in early stages, but that he liked the idea of selling to the university and becoming a tenant.
"We have a lot of space here and they have some needs and our building is strategically located, being an integral part of the theater district," he said.
Under the arrangement, the CSU art and theater programs would occupy the second and fifth floors of the Middough building. Middough Inc., which bought the building in 1997, would remain on the third and fourth floors, and would lease from CSU.
The ground floor of the Middough building is a parking garage.
Built in the early 20th century, the building has served as home to the 13th Street Racquet Club and a U.S. Navy finance center. Ledin said the building was original built as a two-story parking garage, and was later expanded to five floors. At one time, it housed the city's convention center, he said.
Moving to the building would nearly double the 65,000 square feet of space the art and theater departments currently occupy in their CSU homes. Each floor of the Middough building measures roughly 60,000 square feet, Boyle said.
The buildings currently occupied by the art and theater departments would be demolished to make way for 200 to 500 units of market-rate rental housing along Chester Avenue, which the university is trying to develop in collaboration with private developers.
Boyle said the university has received five bids from developers interested in building apartments along the north side of Chester Avenue from East 21st to East 24th streets.
If the art and theater departments can't move immediately to the Middough building, the developers would have to build around the structures.
If they can move quickly, the housing developers could start with a tabula rasa.
The consolidation of CSU cultural activities at PlayhouseSquare is related to earlier plans announced in 2009 to move performances by CSU's Theater Department to the Allen Theater, where it would share space with the Cleveland Play House.
The Play House decided last year to sell its home at 8500 Euclid Ave. to the Cleveland Clinic for $13 million. Proceeds from the sale will help remodel the Allen for its new tenants.
Boyle said that the Middough property would give the CSU Theater Department the rehearsal space it would lack in the Allen Theatre.
If the deal with Middough falls through, CSU would have to find theater rehearsal space somewhere else in PlayhouseSquare, Boyle said.
Over the long term, CSU would like to build an arts complex on its own campus east of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at E. 18th Street and Euclid Avenue. Land has been cleared for the arts complex, but that project awaits a donor, Boyle said.
© 2010 All rights reserved.