Master of Urban Planning and Development

Public Information

Student Achievement Archive

Michael Stefan
Managing Partner, North Coast Commercial
Client, 2021 MUPD Capstone

Eileen Nacht
Chair, AIA Cleveland Design for Aging Committee
Client, 2021 MUPD Capstone

The American Institute of Architects Design for Aging Committee’s mission is to foster design innovation and disseminate knowledge necessary to enhance the built environment and quality of life for an aging society.  In the fall of 2019, the AIA Cleveland DFA committee began working with Michael Stefan on an interesting project that will push forward the idea of what a senior living community can be in Northeast Ohio.  Michael owns a property on Chester Avenue and East 36th Street on the fringes of Cleveland’s Asiatown neighborhood. The committee wanted to engage a student group to study what this new community could look like in the context of a dense walkable, urban neighborhood like Asiatown and The Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs seemed like the right fit.

Working with the students provided an opportunity to look at the site with a new perspective; one the Committee had been leaning towards but needed fresh eyes to bring the vision more into focus.  We shared prior due diligence work, established project goals focused on facilitating aging in community and provided educational sessions on related topics. What the students provided was exactly the framework our team needed to begin to flesh out the project towards the new goal of an urban, age in place community, integrated into its neighborhood.  While our committee has a wide range of expertise in senior living, the students at the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs were able to zoom out the 30,000 foot view, a scale of planning and design that architects do not always work in naturally. 

Collaboration between our team and the students was a real pleasure.  Jim and Tom facilitated our scheduling for the semester which was a great help in laying out the project goals, and deliverables and letting us plan for what topics to cover and when. While we met via Zoom most times due to the pandemic, we were able to walk the neighborhood once as a group. Besides enabling relationship building, the walk provided the opportunity to discuss the assets and opportunities in the neighborhood and to vision together as a team.  The students proved to be truly professional partners throughout the planning process.  The final plan lays out some foundational work from which a truly great project can be birthed.  The green space analysis, market analysis and proposed catalytic sites were especially poignant parts of an overall plan for a neighborhood that could work better for seniors and allow people to age in place with dignity.  The work done this semester will surely add to the greater good and provide a better quality of life for the seniors who will someday reside at Mr. Stefan’s project. 

Khrystalynn Shefton
Director of Real Estate Development, Famicos Foundation
Client, 2020 MUPD Capstone Studio

Elise Yablonsky
Planning Director, University Circle Inc.
Client, 2020 MUPD Capstone

“When we reached out to Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs, the Famicos Foundation, University Circle Inc. and the City of Cleveland had been meeting for months to discuss partnership opportunities in Rockefeller Park. Through the graduate capstone course, we asked students to study current conditions in the park and surrounding neighborhoods to design practical and actionable strategies that would connect eastside neighborhoods to both Rockefeller Park and Lake Erie. Strategies needed to be informed by thoughtful community and stakeholder engagement, and responsive to past and present planning efforts.

We were so impressed with the energy, talent and resilience that the students brought to this project. The COVID-19 pandemic began in the middle of the community outreach phase, but given the robustness of the engagement plan, the students were still able to gather meaningful inputs. They seamlessly adapted to remote work in order to successfully deliver the final plan and presentation for the Eastside Parks. The plan included a variety of near and long-term solutions to provide better access, activation and community connection to Rockefeller and Gordon Parks. We are so grateful that a number of students have remained involved in the ongoing implementation efforts, including a very successful community stakeholder virtual meeting and park walkthrough.” 

Ben Campbell
Director of Commercial and Industrial Development, West Park Kamms Neighborhood Development
Client, 2019 MUPD Capstone Studio

West Park Kamms Neighborhood Development (WPKND) is the nonprofit, community development corporation serving Ward 17 in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. Our mission is to facilitate the development and promotion of the West Park area. In co-ordination with our partners, we engage with residents, businesses, institutions, and visitors in elevating the quality of life in our community. Our core values coincide with many of the principles espoused in the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs' planning curriculum, including diversity, sustainability, community involvement and teamwork. Two of our most important goals are retaining a multigenerational and multicultural base of people in our community and retaining and attracting a healthy mix of business enterprises such as restaurants, pubs, general retail and other product and service companies. We were therefore pleased to serve as the client for this year's planning capstone studio project, in which the students prepared a redevelopment plan for the eastern portion of West Park.

As the students heard from speakers who shared their expertise on the area and then began preparation of the Plan, a common theme of linkages arose. These connections included improving neighborhood access to the West Park Rapid Station, linking the surrounding residential neighborhoods to an improved and more attractive Lorain Avenue commercial corridor, and making the area more welcoming for existing and new residents alike. On behalf of West Park Kamms Neighborhood Development, I want to thank your students on a timely and comprehensive plan entitled “Connecting West Park”. The students were responsible for undertaking research, developing graphics and maps, conducting surveys and interviews, developing a final report and developing a web site for the project. We were very pleased with the quality and quantity of the students' work, and particularly appreciated the students agreeing to do two final presentations, one at the College and one in the West Park neighborhood. WPKND, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and the owners of many vacant and underutilized properties the students identified along the Lorain Avenue corridor will find value in the students' demographic and historic research, survey results and redevelopment ideas as we consider our options for the eastern portion of West Park.”

Andrew R. Thomas
Executive-in-Residence, Energy Policy Center, Cleveland State University
Client, 2018 MUPD Capstone Studio

"The Energy Policy Center collaborated with graduate planning students to develop a strategy for deploying a microgrid in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Microgrids use local generation, storage and smart control devices to island the system off of the main grid during weather and other disturbances, thereby ensuring electricity delivery reliability. The capstone project supported a feasibility study commissioned by the Cleveland Foundation and undertaken by experts from Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland. The students used a wide range of skills to develop system deployment models, including identification of land use strategies, business structures, cost and finance models, regulatory policy and potential customers (including surveys). Importantly, the students provided valuable economic development and fiscal analysis to the project. The research was presented to the Cleveland Foundation, Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland and other stake holders, and ultimately incorporated into a series of reports. The capstone research has been very useful for understanding the opportunity for the County and the City to position the region for leadership in the future data-based economy and in environmental sustainability."

Jeff Markley
Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees
Partner, 2017 MUPD Capstone Studio

“On behalf of the Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees, thank you for a very informative and enlightening research project on the Geauga Lake property. The students’ presentations were well-done and nicely rehearsed, allowing for an efficient and educational experience for all who were in attendance. The Board very much appreciated the hard work, dedication, interest, and passion your students demonstrated and it truly shows in the final work product. It is our sincere hope that the future owner(s) of that property will be as interested in the research findings as we are and utilize your students’ information for the good of the property and the two communities of Bainbridge and Aurora!”

Deanna Bremer Fisher
Executive Director, FutureHeights and Publisher, Heights Observer
Client, 2016 MUPD Capstone Studio

"FutureHeights was delighted to work with Viking Planners on a Revitalization Plan for the Cedar Lee Business District. The students conducted thorough research and worked with a variety of stakeholders to give us several potential new initiatives that will help us revitalize the district. Cedar Lee is currently going through a $3.3 million streetscape project that will include new crosswalks, lighting and bicycle amenities. Cleveland Heights High School, which is located at the intersection of Cedar and Lee Roads, is also going through a comprehensive renovation. The work that the students completed will enable us to work with our partners to seek funding for branding, marketing and other streetscape amenities, as well as attract private investment for several potential development sites. The study has enabled us and our partners to view the district in a new light. This is what urban planning looks like!"