CLEVELAND - When community leaders dug their silver shovels into the soil of Cleveland State University in a ceremonial opening to a new building project, it marked the single largest residential development in Cleveland in more than 30 years.
The 308-unit apartment complex will include nine buildings, a parking garage, outdoor pool, parking garage, cyber cafe, stores and restaurants in the campus area of downtown Cleveland.
"These are not dormitories," said CSU President Ronald Berkman, who took part in a groundbreaking ceremony on the campus. "These are apartments in which we'll have a diversity of tenants -- young professionals, young faculty, young families," he said.
The project is one by Polaris Real Estate Equities of Gates Mills. CSU owns the 6.8 acres of land bordered by Chester and Payne Avenues and East 21 and East 24th streets. It was estimated apartments could rent for $850 to $1,550 a month.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson cheered the project, saying it would create "a neighborhood that will have sustainability." Jackson labeled it as a "vibrant" housing project that would add to Cleveland's image and population.
The apartments unit is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said the housing complex would change the look of that part of the city's downtown area.
"Once you hit [East] 30th Street as you go downtown, it's going to be like a city that I didn't even grow up in," she said. "And I've lived here all my life."
Both Berkman and Jackson cited the project as proof Cleveland was turning a major corner in development. They agreed the housing project will help Cleveland's image and financial stability.
The CSU footprint has increased over the last several years with new housing along Euclid Avenue at East 21st Street. Although many university students are commuters, increasingly, the university is becoming more of a residential campus for students.
The university also cites its presence at Playhouse Square, where it has a partnership with the Cleveland Play House theater that moved from Euclid Avenue and East 81st Street to the Allen Theater. The move is expected to draw more people to Cleveland's renown theater district.
Berkman said it was obvious Cleveland was reaching a major turning point with major projects under way, including the casino and the Medical Mart -- both under construction. He said the planned housing complex at Cleveland State will add to the city's growth.
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