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May 2004 Archives

Gross Builders of Twinsburg is proposing the construction of senior housing on a 27.2 acre site along Aurora Road in Solon, near Solar Shopping Center. Voters must approve a zoning change from single family to senior residential in November before the project can proceed.

Now that the exterior statuary of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument has been restored, trustees hope to begin work on the rest of the building.

The Village of Chagrin Falls is purchasing houses on W. Orange Street, with an eye to redeveloping the area. Village Council has not reached consensus on any action, and continues to explore development options.

The Friedman Development Company is proposing a 150 unit housing development on a 75.5 acre site along Richmond Road in Oakwood. Average base prices of the homes will be $220,000, and developers hope to begin construction this fall.

Berea Community Development Administrator Cyril Kleem worries that the city will face increasing challenges in maintaining the quality of its housing. The city plans to combat the problem by increasing involvement by residents and point-of-sale inspections, as well as investigating the possibility of establishing a land bank.

The First Church of Christ Scientist on Detroit Avenue, suffering from declining membership, decided to put its historic church up for sale. Lakewood officials hope it will not be demolished and a new use can be found for the building.

The West Side Sun News reports that the last week's presentation of the Edgewater/Old River Channel lakefront plan by Cleveland planners drew mixed reactions from residents, especially the West Shoreway conversion plans.

After approving several amendments, Mayfield Heights City Council voted to adopt a new master plan for the city.

The latest installment of the Quiet Crisis series is focused on manufacturing and economic development, and includes a feature story and a panel discussion with local industry leaders. It will be rebroadcasted on WVIZ this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday at 11:00 p.m.

The recent rains have choked the Cuyahoga River with soil, highlighting the erosion problems prevalent throughout the Cuyahoga Watershed. Officials cite construction site runoff, increased urbanization of the watershed, and decreased wetland areas as causes for the pollution that has economic effects (in the form of costly dredging to support shipping) and environmental effects (the contamination of aquatic habitat).

[Chart comparing runoff from the Cuyahoga, Grand, and Maumee Rivers]

State Lawmakers approves legislation that would allow counties such as Cuyahoga to create special taxing districts specifically for arts and culture.

Tremont continues to nurture the local arts scene, this time through the Tremont Incubator Project, a program sponsored by Tremont West Development Corporation and Sutton Builders. While the program was originally designed to provide a space for a home-based entreprenuer to provide a service that would increase economic diversity in the neighborhood, the nine-member panel chose stained-glass artists Mary Zodnik and Ben Parsons as the first participants.

Chris Maaf of Scene Magazine writes about regionalism, and what he perceives is keeping communities from working better with one another.

The Rocky Mountain Institute's latest issue of RMI Solutions reports on their work with the CPC on the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative. From the article:

Cleveland could become an international standard for regenerating industrial brownfields. Demonstrating integrated ways to overcome various environmental and redevelopment challenges- and selling the concepts, services, products, and forms of social and economic organization needed to do so- could provide a sort of professional niche for the Cuyahoga Valley.
Also mentioned in the newsletter, which can be downloaded in a PDF version, is Oberlin's and Northeast Ohio's David Orr.

West Side neighborhood residents express concern about the building of a new Cleveland elementary school off of West 41st Street.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will present a report that asserts that a Cleveland-to-Canada ferry would be economically feasible, and could be operational in two years. The Port Authority will then begin to request proposals from ferry operators, and project a Spring 2006 opening.

St. Luke's Pointe, a new $60 million residential development on the site of the old St. Luke's Medical Center, will break ground this month. Approximately 180 new units will be developed, providing a mix of townhouses, single-family homes, and apartments. The project is driven by the partnership between Neighborhood Progress Inc., the Sisters of Charity, University Hospitals, and Buckeye Area Development Corp. Community concerns linger regarding the replacement of health services to the community, and local leaders acknowledge that while primary care and urgent care services will still be provided, they cannot replace a full-service hospital.

(Press release via Cool Cleveland)

Community-based non-profits throughout Northeast Ohio will share $9 million for neighborhood revitalization. The Cleveland/Northeast Ohio Local Initiatives Support Corp. will direct the funding that came through private donations and matching funds from the national LISC.

Cleveland State University plans $62 million of work over the next five years for six contruction and landscaping projects, including the renovation of the University Center, the building of a new campus bookstore, and creation of additional student housing. This work is all a part of implementation of the University's Campus Master Plan.

Cleveland City Council President Frank Jackson has compiled a set of potential neighborhood projects from throughout the City and is calling for $20 million to be raised through a bond issue to fund the projects. The proposed projects range from new streetscaping to residential and retail development.

Michael Gill of the Free Times provides an editorial about the West Shoreway reconstruction plan and how the modification of the highway to a boulevard may fit in with future development trends.

First Interstate Properties has signed a purchase agreement with ISG to build Steelyard Commons, a 1 million-square-foot power center on the west side of the Industrial Valley, adjacent to the Jennings Freeway and I-71.

Team NEO president Bob Farley spoke at an Akron Roundtable meeting last week, and urged attendees to stay positive about the local economy.

Plain Dealer columnist Steven Litt critiques Crocker Park, a mixed-use, new urbanist development whose first phase is set to open in October. While Litt is encouraged by the design of Crocker Park, he raises concerns about the impact of this project on development in downtown Cleveland amidst other new and renovated shopping centers throughout Northeast Ohio. Meanwhile, Mayor Campbell continues to advocate for the City as a prime spot for retail and other commercial development.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Openlands Project have mapped the "Green Infrastructure" resources of Greater Chicago through their Natural Connections project. By making an inventory of wetlands and other natural resources in their bioregion, this partnership is highlighting the importance of open spaces and natural areas for wildlife habitat, recreation, and watershed health.

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, through its Cuyahoga County Greenspace Plan and the Healthy Valley section of the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative is currently working on the same set of issues for Northeast Ohio, including highlighting the recreational assets of the region.

(Chicago Natural Connections link via Beyond Brilliance, Beyond Stupidity)

Planned Parenthood lauds its move to its new office space in the Cleveland Environmental Center, the first commercial green-building retrofit in Ohio.

The City of Cleveland continues to lead the region in new housing starts as experts cite the beginning of a shift from exurban housing development to growth in dense, urban communities.

The City of Solon is trying to establish a historic district along Bainbridge Road West, but there is disagreement over the proposal, as Solon Historical Society curator Joseph Baumann cited a lack of historic structures in the area. Planning Director Rob Frankland said, "I've said from the start that we don't really have an historic district. We're talking about building an historic district rather than preserving one."

In the wake of a settlement with MSZ builders, City of Independence officials are considering a 60 day development moratorium in the City's Northeast Quadrant while they await completion of a municipal master plan.

The City of Broadview Heights reached an out-of-court settlement with XXL of Ohio Inc., agreeing to pay $150,000 in damages and revise its sign code, after it was found unconstitutional in January.

The Ohio legislatures are considering bills that will allow communities to create quiet railroad zones. Under current state law, trains are required to sound their horns at all railroad crossings. "One alternative is adding gates and concrete barriers, which will eliminate the need for horns, unless there is an emergency. It also makes it more difficult for cars to drive around the gates when they come down."

WIRE-Net will be conducting a $15,000 study to determine possible uses for the vacant 22 acre Midland Steel site at W. 106th Street and Madison Avenue.

The City of Cleveland has begun a $500,000 renovation of the Collinwood Community Services Center building, and intends to complete work in about a year.

Peter Rubin of the Coral Company spoke at a Shaker Works meeting on Monday about his Shaker Square plans. Issues discussed included a possible need for public funds, lease renegotiations being conducted by Key Bank, and Rubin's desire to purchase the adjacent Van Aken Plaza.

E. 4th Street developers MRN Ltd. plan infrastructure improvements along the short block, including new sewer and water lines, public art, and wide sidewalks.

The Ferchill Group is working with HUD and the owners of Carter Manor to purchase the subsidized apartments on Prospect Avenue, currently threatened with foreclosure.

The City of Cleveland and ISG have reached a deal which will allow the towpath trail extension to move forward through a section of the Cuyahoga Valley. "Under one facet of the deal, the city would reimburse ISG for cleanup costs of up to $1 million to acquire 55 acres that once housed coke ovens, said city Planning Director Christopher Ronayne. ISG would donate riverfront land and nearby easements for the Towpath Trail."

Concerns about the environmental effects of aggressive lawn care have brought together lawn equipment, fertilizer, and pesticide industry representatives along with environmental groups and the US EPA to form a Lawn and Environment Coalition and to draft model guidelines for responsible lawn care and landscaping.

(Via Planetizen)

A reminder: this Saturday is RiverDay 2004. Many events are scheduled, including several cleanups, Whiskey Island activities, a number of tours, and a Wildlife Fest at Dike 14.

Tops supermarkets has suspended construction on their North Collinwood store expansion at Neff Road and E. 185th Street, citing higher than expected costs and a delay in receiving a $2 million low interest loan from the City of Cleveland.

Hopkins Airport officials have asked Cleveland Metroparks for permission to cut down or top 88 trees in the southern end of the Rocky River Reservation, as part of safety requirements in their runway expansion. Metroparks Commissioners did not make a decision, and will discuss it at a future meeting.

The Cleveland Planning Commission yesterday unveiled the Edgewater/Old River Channel segment of their lakefront plans. A public presentation of the plan will be held tonight at Sagrada Familia Catholic Church on Detroit Avenue.

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt was appointed to lead a federal task force to coordinate Great Lakes restoration programs.

Lee Chilcote interviews CSU Levin College Chair Mark Rosentraub in Cool Cleveland. "We have to understand that Cleveland is not alone, that the hollowing out of downtown is as pronounced in New York City as it is in Cleveland. This is a part of the changing role of center cities in America. Successful cities are building urban neighborhoods."

Due to past problems maintaining and managing its combined sanitary/storm sewer system, the City of Columbus faces repairs that will cost up to $1.5 billion over the next 20 years. Sewer and watershed management has also been a local issue over the past thirty years.

Due to the City of Eastlake's budget crisis, the state auditor's office declared a fiscal emergency, and will appoint a state commission to oversee municipal spending.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission has developed a new Bike Lane Design Guide that will give the City more control over where bike facilities will be placed, and how state and federal money is used.

Lakewood City Council voted last night to cut sewer rate hikes proposed by Mayor Tom George, citing a need to finish long-term studies that will address improvements to the City's aging infrastructure.

Bertram "Bert" Wolstein, founder of Developers Diversified Realty Corp. and Heritage Development Corp., passed away early yesterday at the age of 77.

EcoCity Cleveland through its work on the Circle-Heights Bike Network continues to spearhead efforts to work with the heights communities to make urban cycling more feasible through route planning, intersection design, and advocacy.

The Westfield Corporation, owners of SouthPark Center in Strongsville, are moving forward with their expansion plans, which call for 239,000 square feet of new retail, including a Dick's Sporting Goods outlet in addition to the previously proposed 14 screen movie theater.

The City of Euclid is establishing a residential nuisance abatement program, where neglected homes will be repaired or cleaned up, and the costs will be assessed via a lien on the property.

The Cleveland Planning Commission granted approval to conceptual designs for a lakefront boardwalk along Dock 32. The City hopes to begin construction this fall, and complete work by spring 2005.

Two developers building in the Signature of Solon subdivision are asking Solon City Council to lower standards that require new housing developments to provide a variety of styles in their construction.

The City of Brecksville is preparing for the development opportunities that will be created when the city's VA Medical Center is closed as part of a consolidation of local services.

The Shaker Heights Planning Commission unanimously recommended rejecting a request by St. Dominic's Church to vacate Norwood Road near Van Aken Boulevard in order to create a neighborhood park. City Council is expected to vote on the issue on May 24.

The Village of Walton Hills continues to have difficulty leaving the Bedford School District.

The Western Reserve Historical Society will ask Cleveland City Council to allow it to lease Aviation High School to bring its car and plane collection to the lakefront. WHRS would renovate and expand the building, which is currently being used by the Salvation Army as a shelter for homeless men.

Cuyahoga County's Arts and Culture as Economic Development program will begin disbursing $375,000 in arts-related economic development grants today.

At Hotel Bruce, Lee Chilcote interviews affordable housing activist Lisa Kious about her return to Cleveland.

While airline hubs in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have struggled, Continental Airlines CEO Larry Kellner foresees strong local demand at Hopkins.

The New York Times covers how websites can be used to provide images and maps, oftentimes in three dimensions. Among the featured sites are The Skyscraper Museum, which allows visitors to navigate a three-dimentional representation of Manhattan, the Theban Mapping Project, which features a detailed laser-measured, computer-generated map to navigate the site's vast resources, and the St. Louis Virtual City Project, which uses a 3-D model of the city to display images of St. Louis from throughout its built history.

A new service has been developed to assist entrepreneurs and people who run small businesses by providing referrals to nonprofit organizations and other resources. NEO411.biz has been developed by a consortium that includes JumpStart LLC, COSE, and the Greater Akron Chamber, among others.

Among tomorrow's events at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be a hike and talk conducted by Park Ranger Tom Nash on the history of bridges in the CVNP. The hike will begin at the Boston Store and will last from 10a to 11:30a.

The San Francisco Chronicle covered that city's urban perigrine falcons. Cleveland has had falcons downtown for nearly two decades, and there are several other sites throughout Ohio.

(Thanks to EcoCity Cleveland for hosting the falcon cam site and Planetizen for the Chronicle link)

The National Policy Research Council has recently published its rankings of all states and the country's 50 top cities. Cleveland ranks 35th, thanks to strong showings in business climate, infrastructure, and public safety. Low rankings in areas such as economic dynamism, environment, quality of life, and technology also figured in Cleveland's placement.

Tom Bier of the Housing Policy Research Center at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs predicts that , in ten years, over half of the homesellers in Cuyahoga County will move to outlying counties, if trends continue.

The weak downtown office market provides challenges and opportunities for economic development officials and private developers.

The ISG West Side works is back in operation thanks in part to recent spikes in the price of steel. ISG is also purchasing an iron-making plant in Trinidad and Tobago.

In related news, the Western Reserve Historical Society has received a two-year, quarter million dollar grant to support its LTV Steel Collection Consortium.

Upstream from Lake Erie, the Army Corps of Engineers will build an electric fence in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan and, consequently, the rest of the Great Lakes.

Preservationists and the City of Berea have succeeded in persuading a developer to use sandstone as an architechtural element for a Walgreens drugstore. The quarrying of sandstone figured prominiently in the history of Berea.

(Last month's post on this subject)

Two feature stories, one in the Free Times, and the other in Scene talk about casino gambling in Cleveland in terms of economic development.

Jay Walljasper, editor of Utne Magazine, will give a talk at Trinity Cathedral entitled "Falling in Love with Cities All Over Again". Cool Cleveland's Thomas Mulready interviews Walljasper, who explains what cities have going for them, and what can be done to help them thrive.

While gasoline prices near $2.00 per gallon, there are ways to avoid spending excessively on gas, including taking advantage of NOACA's Rideshare Program, which matches commuters to carpools, and monitoring the County Auditor's Gas Price Page.

Overwhelmed by growing demand for its paratransit services, RTA is considering conducting tests to determine the eligibility of riders to use its services.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has just purchased 116 acres of rare Lake Erie sand barrens and will clear invasive species and preserve this unique habitat located in North Kingsville.

(Via Great Lakes Information Network)

Cleveland City Council approved a budget increase for renovation of the building that will house the City's high-tech center.

(Last week's post on this subject)

The U.S. EPA announced regulations that should cut pollution (especially particulates and nitrogen oxide) from diesel-powered farming and construction equipment by over 90 percent during the next six years.

This month, the CNDC Newsletter (PDF) covers a number of topics, including the upcoming Urban Communities Symposium to be held on June 4th, the Cleveland Restoration Society tour of three historic sacred landmarks in Tremont, and the progress being made by Re$tore Cleveland.

A feature story in the Plain Dealer looks at the City of Twinsburg as it simultaneously experiences rapid population growth and increased racial diversity. In a related story, Twinsburg school administrators and parents disagree over whether black students are suspended more often than white students.

Brunswick area residents and officials are arguing the merits of a sound barrier along I-71.

The City of Parma continues to work towards creating a City Charter, but it appears that partisan elections would continue under the new charter.

Saturday's Cuyahoga Riversweep brought together over 700 volunteers to remove trash from along the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries and ravines.

City of Cleveland Water Commissioner Julius Ciaccia was promoted to Director of Public Utilities.

On Friday, Cleveland's police and fire unions voted to work towards a ballot issue that would raise income tax rates to re-hire laid-off workers. Mayor Campbell is concerned that a referendum on the tax hike would interfere with the impending school property tax ballot initiative.

Cuyahoga County Development Director Paul Oyaski is proposing the establishment of a county-level seed fund for local public agencies to explore consolidating services.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission has unveiled plans for Dock 32, near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and North Coast Harbor. Short term plans call for a promenade and a park, and long term plans include an activity center with an ice rink and possibly an indoor pool.

The Walton Hills Master Plan committee wants to build a fire/EMS station at Walton and Alexander roads.

Plans for a lifestyle center on Brookpark Road in North Olmsted continue to be refined. They currently call for the construction of a new Target store, 90,000 square feet of upper-end retail, 160 apartment units, and a parking garage.

Cleveland Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad officials met with Brooklyn Heights Mayor Michael Procuk to explore the possibility of extending parks and the railroad into the Village.

The Kent State Urban Design Center has completed a master plan for Lake Shore Boulevard between E. 156th and E. 174th Streets in Cleveland.

Construction costs rise for the Cleveland's new center for the City's computers.

Ashtabula follows Cleveland's lead in lighting its historic lift bridge, and is restoring its harbor district to attract visitors.

Harvey Pekar writes about regionalism and what we can learn from the experiences of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and work done by Myron Orfield and David Rusk.

Michael Gill of the Free Times reports on the confusion over the construction of bike lanes along the Euclid Corridor and Detroit Superior Bridge.

George Phillips, the new Cuyahoga Metropolitan Authority executive director, answers questions about federal budgets cuts to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8).

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Rose A. Zitiello and Richard T. Herman respond to a recent immigration study by the Brookings Institution and suggest that attracting and retaining higher education graduates may be the way to increase the region's international population.

The debate in Bay Village over a proposed law governing building expansions by nonprofits may run afoul of the The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a controversial 2000 federal civil rights law, which can ease zoning restrictions for religious institutions.

Our Cuyahoga Valley Initiative site has been updated. You can now download the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative- A Model of Regeneration report produced by the Rocky Mountain Institute with Entrepreneurs for Sustainability. This report is a first glimpse at how the Cuyahoga Valley can be regenerated, using a pilot site for testing the principles of sustainability.

Cuyahoga County Commissioners yesterday created the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority, which will consist of 11 appointees by the County, City, and the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association. Authority members cannot be elected officials, and will conduct research and make recommendations on convention center issues.

Last night, Broadview Heights City Council voted to impose a 45 day development moratorium on the northwest corner of the I-77 and Route 82 interchange. Planning firm D.B. Hartt has been hired to study the area.

Cuyahoga County received proposals for a new county administration building from seven developers. In addition to the locations mentioned yesterday, Forest City Enterprises proposed building a new 27 story office tower adjacent to the new federal courthouse. Garfield Traub of Dallas proposed a new building at the north edge of the Warehouse District, expanding the existing convention center, and constructing a 500 room hotel on the site of the current county administration building. Also proposed was an 11 floor expansion of the Sterling Building at 1255 Euclid Avenue, by Munsell Realty Advisors of Beachwood, and a new building near I-480 and Lee Road at the Cleveland-Garfield Heights border, by NEO Park Limited.

Two national stories related to last week's post on Central's renaissance were published. Pertinent to Arbor Park Village's construction is this Wall Street Journal article on the new face of public housing. And, the Christian Science Monitor writes about the return of affluent African-American homeowners to inner-cities similar to what is taking place in the Villages of Central.

(Via Planetizen)

Some lakefront residents who want the legal definition of their property lines changed from the high water mark to the low water mark, upset that Ohio House Bill 218 has not been passed by the state Senate, are taking the issue to President Bush.

Today is the deadline for proposals for a unified Cuyahoga County administration building. Both new construction and existing buildings are under consideration. Proposals are expected for the former Ameritrust complex at Euclid and E. 9th, the Higbee Building at Public Square, the old May Company store on Euclid, and the 668 Euclid building.

Thanks in part to a strong local housing market, KraftMaid Cabinetry will add 900 new jobs.

Cleveland developer John Ferchill and Mark Rantala, CB Richard Ellis Director of Retail, speak out in favor of bringing legalized gambling to downtown Cleveland. Other development stories, including one on the construction of townhomes in Tremont, are covered in the article.

Some cities in Northeast Ohio will begin to charge for emergency services.

Sandusky will introduce trolley-like buses to its downtown, similar to what Cleveland's RTA will do next year.

The Ohio EPA is studying the impact of removing the Gorge Park Dam, which is the largest dam on the Cuyahoga. This action was prompted by a proposal from Advanced Hydro Solutions to refurbish the dam in order to produce electricity.

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