CSU looks to double its on-campus housing

The Edge apartment building at 1750 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.

Cleveland State University reportedly is in talks to acquire The Edge on Euclid Apartments as well as The Langston Apartments on Chester Avenue to more than double its on-campus housing options for a growing student enrollment (CRG). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Growing enrollment at Cleveland State University may soon cause visible changes to downtown Cleveland’s landscape. According to two sources close to the university, CSU is in negotiations to acquire two large apartment properties that would allow it to more than double its inventory of on-campus student housing.

The two properties are The Edge on Euclid, 1750 Euclid Ave., and The Langston Apartments, 2303 Chester Ave. Combined, the two complexes contain 1,164 beds. Currently, CSU has only two on-campus housing properties — the Euclid Commons with 601 beds and the 22-story Fenn Tower with 438 beds.

The Edge and The Langston were built in the 2010s to accommodate CSU students yet both are considered off-campus housing. As privately owned buildings, they can be more expensive, have longer lease terms and may not be included in school boarding plans compared to what on-campus housing offers. To accommodate more freshman and international students, CSU reportedly sees the need to expand the number of beds in its on-campus residence halls. Acquiring existing buildings is the quickest way to do so.

Just this week, CSU reported that overall undergraduate and graduate Fall 2021 enrollments increased about 1 percent compared to last year when more than 16,000 students were enrolled. Meanwhile other state universities were seeing declines. Graduate enrollment at CSU soared by more than 20 percent to 4,352 students, and the university added 1,834 new freshmen to campus, a 5 percent increase from Fall 2020, according to a written statement released yesterday.

The Langston Apartments, 2303 Chester Ave., in downtown Cleveland.

The Langston Apartments stretch along several blocks of Chester Avenue. Looking east along Chester from East 22nd Street toward downtown Cleveland, students walk from classes at Cleveland State University to their apartments (Langston.com).

“Our unique brand of engaged learning continues to attract more and more students from our region and beyond — and not even a pandemic can slow us down,” said CSU President Harlan Sands. “Now more than ever, our community and the higher education marketplace are discovering the tremendous value of a CSU education and have made us a first choice for undergraduate and graduate programs.”

Graduate enrollments reflect the successful launch of CSU Global, a transformational international outreach program that has delivered an additional 900 students from overseas. Most of these new students are pursuing degrees in high-demand STEM or business-technology fields like computer science and information systems that will add to the region’s talent base and help drive growth. This represents more than double the number of international students from just three years ago.

“As an urban, public university, supporting our community is both our mission and our passion,” said Jonathan Wehner, CSU’s vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions. “Seeing our reputation grow as an accessible, affordable, first-choice institution to students in Greater Cleveland and beyond is critical to the long-term economic vitality and health of Northeast Ohio. We are so excited about where we are and where we are going.”

For CSU to acquire The Edge and The Langston would involve different approaches. The reason is when St. Louis-based CRG and San Diego-based Koman Group built The Edge in 2017 for $45 million, it acquired the 1.4 acres of land on which the 564-bed, 11-story building sets.

Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland.

The 85-acre Cleveland State University, heralded by its Rhodes Tower, is a prominent feature in downtown Cleveland’s landscape. At 363 feet high, Rhodes Tower is the nation’s fourth-tallest educational-purposed building (CSU).

In contrast, The Langston was built in 2012-13 for $45 million by Cleveland-based Newbrook Partners and Buckingham Properties LLC of Indianapolis, IN on 7.6 acres of CSU-owned land. In 2011 CSU entered a 50-year ground lease with extension options with CSU Housing LLC, a Buckingham affiliate, for The Langston, according to county records.

The nine-building, 370-apartment, 600-bed development with several ground-floor retail spaces along Chester was originally called the North Campus Neighborhood Project Phase I. Upon completion of construction, it was branded as The Langston Apartments. It is a CSU-approved living option for students.

Alison Bibb-Carson, CSU’s executive director of marketing and communications, acknowledged receipt of an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking more information about the potential property acquisitions but otherwise did not respond to it prior to publication of this article.

An interesting angle to the story, the sources said, is that the owners of both The Edge and The Langston may reportedly use the sale proceeds to afford constructing new off-campus housing facilities. CSU is in the midst of a campus masterplan process to identify facility needs and how they should relate to each other.

CSU's 2014 masterplan.

Cleveland State University’s most recent campus masterplan was developed in 2014. However, very few of its proposed features were built on the landscape (CSU).

Gary Totino, a principal at Newbrook, acknowledged receiving an e-mail from NEOtrans but didn’t answer questions posed in it. Sarah Green, executive director of communications and marketing at CRG, didn’t respond to a similar e-mail.

To improve on-campus housing services, CSU said it switched housing management firms earlier this month. CSU’s student newspaper The Cauldron reported that Greystar Properties will operate Fenn Tower and Euclid Commons, taking over from American Campus Communities after 17 years. Greystar also manages the Euclid Grand, The Luckman and The Lumen apartment buildings in downtown Cleveland. Reportedly Greystar wants to further increase its housing presence here.

More student housing has been identified as a growing need — especially on-campus residence halls as off-campus apartments in downtown Cleveland get more expensive and as prospective students from Chicago and the coasts look for urban universities in more affordable locations.

As an alternative to costly downtown housing, affordable apartments like The Midtown, University Studios and Inner Belt Lofts were recently carved out of aging commercial structures along Euclid on the other side of Interstate 90 from CSU and downtown.

CSU's Krenzler Field in downtown Cleveland with Reserve Square in the distance.

Beyond Cleveland State University’s Krenzler Field looms downtown Cleveland including the two 24-story apartment towers of Reserve Square where many CSU students reside (CSU).

Even with those additions, downtown still attracts many CSU students. Boston-based Sasaki Associates Inc., which is conducting CSU’s masterplan, found that 92 percent of scooter rides from the Reserve Square Apartments traveled to and from CSU.

Another real estate partnership being considered by CSU involves the possible construction of a parking garage in collaboration with Cross Country Mortgage, the sources said. The fast-growing mortgage firm is relocating its headquarters and hundreds of jobs from suburban Brecksville to downtown Cleveland. With continued growth, up to 1,000 Cross Country Mortgage jobs could soon be based in the former Chilcote Co. buildings, 2140-2160 Superior Ave.

The proposed parking deck would likely be built along Payne Avenue, south of the mortgage firm’s new headquarters and north of The Langston. It would be used by Cross Country employees as well as commuting students which still comprise a large majority of CSU’s enrollment. Considering the parking deck would be shared, Cross Country employees would use the deck during the day and students attending evening classes would park there at night.

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