The Rebirth of the Urban Development Lab

Urban Development Lab group 2023

CWRU Law School’s Urban Development Lab just wrapped up its second semester in its current iteration. Professor Matthew Rossman created the lab in 2007 with the assistance of Professor Gerry Korngold, right after Korngold completed his tenure as the law school’s dean. The first several sets of lab students prepared white papers that identified and analyzed strategies for overcoming legal barriers to property development along then-struggling Euclid Avenue, to coincide with the launch of the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s world-renowned transit-oriented development project – the Health Line.  Several of those strategies are now at work as Euclid Avenue has resurged.

Flash forward to present day and after a multiyear hiatus, Rossman re-launched the Urban Development Lab in the Fall 2022 semester. This time he enlisted the help of CWRU alum and outgoing Director of Cleveland’s Department of Economic Development, David Ebersole (LAW 08’), who is currently the Vice President of Development Finance with the Greater Cleveland Partnership. “David’s interest in co-teaching the lab was serendipitous and representative of the goodwill and talent so many of our alums generously provide to our school’s experiential opportunities,” Rossman said. “His knowledge about the research projects we undertake is incredibly deep and he has connected our students to local policymakers, developers and advocates who add great value to our research.”

The lab’s recent research is generating lots of outside attention. The Fall 2022 cadre of lab students surveyed businesses and community leaders in the six neighborhoods that border CWRU’s campus (Greater University Circle) to learn which of the various types of economic development incentives governments have directed towards those neighborhoods are making the greatest impact. The Washburn Law Journal will publish Rossman’s article synthesizing and analyzing this research in its Spring 2024 issue. The Fall 2023 team of lab students examined downtown housing trends, in particular as demand nationwide for office space declines, and then presented recommendations for laws and policies to make Downtown Cleveland more residential, accessible and affordable. In December, they presented these recommendations to representatives from the City of Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Ohio City Inc. and then spoke at length with them about the feasibility of these strategies.

UDL students 2023 touring downtown