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June 2004 Archives

Cleveland City Planners will unveil a vision for the lakefront that includes increased access to the lakefront, new commercial and residential development, a redesigned Innerbelt curve, and other aspects at this evening's meeting at St. Philip Neri Community Center. Presented will be the third of four detailed parts of the City's Connecting Cleveland: The Lakefront Plan.

John McGill, the late Bart Wolstein's business partner, is continuing efforts aimed at bringing an Major League Soccer franchise to Northeast Ohio.

The Ohio EPA has filed suit against the U.S. EPA, charging that the Clean Air Act is being misinterpreted, and that OEPA should be granted more leeway in developing plans to reduce ground-level ozone.

Yesterday's unveiling of Little Italy's neighborhood master plan was met with vocal opposition, including concerns that parking needs of existing residents weren't being met. However, others expressed support for the plan, citing the need to manage inevitable changes in the neighborhood. Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation officials pledged to use the public comments to make amendments to the plan before sending it to the Cleveland City Planning Commission.

A decrease in the number of railroad crossing accidents in Ohio is being attributed to public awareness, elimination of at-grade crossings, and signal improvements.

The Plain Dealer profiles Cleveland's Midtown area and several businesses and artists who make it their home.

The Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation has prepared a master plan for the neighborhood, and will present it tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Holy Rosary Church Hall. Highlights of the plan include moving the Mayfield Road rapid station and replacing it with a three-story parking garage, 28 new townhouses near E. 120th Street and Coltman Road, streetscape improvements, and renovating two neighborhood parks.

The latest statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show sprawl continued at an unabated pace in Northeast Ohio last year, with Cuyahoga County recording a net loss of 10,000 residents.

Plain Dealer environment columnist John Kuehner writes about the 35th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire and the current lakefront development controversy in Willowick.

Bentleyville City Councilperson Penny Hulett wants to make sure plans to rebuild the Chagrin River Bridge, which collapsed in 1977, do not move too quickly. She sent a letter to River Road residents which included, "There are many more issues such as drugs and crime emanating from the Metroparks... your peace and quiet and possibly your home value could be at stake."

The 8th District Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, sustaining the Village of Oakwood's zoning against a suit brought by BP, who wanted to build a gas station on Broadway Avenue, where they are not permitted. BP is considering whether to appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Broadview Heights City Council extended the development moratorium at I-77 and Route 82 by 90 days, to allow for more study, and continues to discuss the proposed one year residential building moratorium.

On Monday, the City of Broadview Heights established a Storm Water Management Board, which will hear appeals to riparian setback requirements and make recommendations to City Council.

The City of Strongsville and Westfield Corporation, owners of SouthPark Center, have reached a compromise on expansion plans for the mall. The 239,000 square foot expansion will include a 14 screen theater at the front of the mall, as the owners wished, but will also preserve the front entrance, satisfying city officials.

Prompted by concerns about maintaining the quality of the city's housing, Berea officials have scheduled a series of meetings with homeowners to discuss issues facing the community.

The Brooklyn Sun Journal provides more information about the towpath trail and Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad extension efforts, including the deal reached by the City of Cleveland and ISG earlier this month.

Cudell Improvement Inc., along with City Architecture and Rysar Properties, is working to create a mixed use development along W.117th Street in Cleveland. Housing, retail, and offices are proposed for the site north of Detroit Avenue.

Plans for redeveloping the south side of Cedar Center in University Heights continue to move forward. A Whole Foods store is planned by owner The Coral Company, who have made progress in convincing reluctant tenants to move to different locations in the center. The City also adopted a community development plan that could allow them to make eminent domain claims, if necessary.

Mayor Campbell wants Team NEO to implement a no poaching policy that would discourage communities from offering incentives to attract companies from other communities in the region. Team NEO is resisting the effort, saying they focus on attracting and retaining businesses in the area, not on intra-regional moves.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will invest $30 million on backup generators to power its treatment plants in case of another blackout such as last August's, which resulted in the release of 65 million gallons of untreated water into Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

Lakefront planning is the focus in Willowick, including the redevelopment of mostly-vacant Shoregate Shopping Center.

Regionalism in the form of inter-municipal revenue sharing is reported upon in the Plain Dealer, with the Minneapolis-St. Paul region cited as a prime example of how tax-base-sharing is employed.

Cleveland Metroparks will seek a property tax increase with a proposed 10-year levy to be placed on the Nov. 2nd ballot.

Amidst recent budget cuts, many City of Cleveland recreation programs and facilities, including a new water park on Woodland Avenue, will remain open, albeit at a reduced schedule. City Councilman Ken Johnson points to recreation programs as an important part of providing opportunities to children while decreasing incidents of crime.

Among this week's new book releases is On the Brink: The Great Lakes in the 21st Century, which chronicles the past century's environmental degregation of the Great Lakes and makes a call for citizens to take action to save this resource.

Among last week's development news is the anticipated conversion of the Walker and Weeks Building into loft apartments by the end of the year and a forecast of increased rental unit occupancy throughout Cleveland.

Plans to create a hike and bike trail along a stretch of currently unused tracks that run through Aurora, Solon, Bedford, and Bedford Heights are being blocked by Norfolk Southern, the owners of the track. City of Aurora planners (who initiated the effort) will continue their efforts.

The 8th District Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed a ruling by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and upheld the Village of Moreland Hills' two acre minimum lot size. Developers the Jaylin Group, wishing to build 29 cluster homes on 18 acres, had challenged the legality of the zoning requirement. Environmental protection was cited as a major factor in the Court's decision.

"Cuyahoga County Engineer Bob Klaiber said last week that the county can rebuild the Chagrin River Road bridge at no cost to the residents." The old bridge collapsed into the Chagrin River in 1977.

The City of Garfield Heights in considering a proposal to rezone an area near I-480 and Transportation Boulevard from residential to commercial. The issue may go before voters in November.

Consultants for the City of Avon will conduct a study to evaluate development alternatives for a proposed I-90 interchange first put forward in March. The next public meeting on the proposal will be held on July 29 at 7:00 p.m. at Avon City Hall.

The Lakewood City School District purchased the apartment building at 13100 Detroit Avenue, and plan to demolish it to allow the construction of a new middle school.

The City of Bay Village is preparing legislation that could appear on the November ballot regarding building expansions by nonprofit institutions. The city currently requires major commercial expansions to be approved by voters, and if passed, this controversial issue would apply the same standards to developments by nonprofits.

The North Olmsted Planning Commission recommended plans for a lifestyle center on Brookpark Road. The plans currently call for roughly 200,000 square feet of retail space, 58,000 square feet of office space, and a 10,000 square foot community center. The proposal will next go before the Board, Zoning and Development Committee, and if approved there, to City Council.

Plans for a Brooklyn senior housing project originally submitted in November 2002 have been resubmitted. Local developer National Commonwealth Communities is proposing the construction of a 180 unit senior housing project at Northcliffe Avenue and Idlewood Drive, near Ridge Park Square.

The Bingham Building on W.9th Street will be home to Constantino's Market, a 9,500-square foot specialty grocery store.

Mayfield Heights City Council unanimously agreed to a zoning change that will permit retail construction on a six acre site on SOM Center Road north of Eastgate Shopping Center. Owner Larry Ottino plans to build an 80,000 square foot shopping center similar to the Greens of Lyndhurst.

This month's Metropolis Magazine covers Chicago's Green Revolution with an article written by former Free Times writer Lisa Chamberlain and featuring Sadhu Johnston, late of the Cleveland Green Building Coalition.

The agricultural landscape of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is being recreated through the Countryside Initiative. Three families will begin farming the Cuyahoga Valley, beginning a movement to bring 30 small farms covering 1,350 acres in an effort to not only preserve the agricultural history of Northeast Ohio, but also to support the regional food market and advance natural practices throughout the region.

In its first designations, the Euclid Landmark Commission will grant landmark status to seven houses on Thursday.

The City of Broadview Heights intends to impose a year-long moratorium on residential construction. City Council members are concerned about overloads to the city's stormwater systems, and want to take the time to establish stricter development regulations.

Yesterday's meeting at North Royalton council chambers overflowed with residents expressing frustration about recent flooding taking place throughout the Rocky River and Baldwin Creek watersheds. Mayor Cathy Luks blamed the problems on an already saturated ground as well as overdevelopment in important riparian zones. City Council tentatively scheduled a special meeting for Monday, June 21st.

The Clear The Air campaign has recently published a report that documents deaths caused by pollution from coal-fired power plants. The analysis behind the report is based on work done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's air quality consultants using standard EPA methodology. Ohio power plants are singled out as being particularly noxious. The CTA site also includes a map that shows the location of power plants, their characteristics, and statistics for major cities.

(Link via worldchanging through Mackintosh fruitcake)

Cleveland City Council passed legislation that authorized the city to acquire 55 acres of land from ISG in the industrial part of the Cuyahoga Valley for new business and recreational activities, including the Towpath Trail Extension.

Norton Environmental, the operator of the Royalton Road Sanitary Landfill, is being sued by the State of Ohio for failure to monitor and control pollution to ground water, including runoff into Chippewa Creek.

Issue two of Hotel Bruce is out, and focuses on the potential of Midtown Corridor, offering a proposal by Steve Rugare and Steve Manka. It also includes an article about the green Trinity Commons expansion at Trinity Cathedral.

A Plain Dealer editorial praises the City of Cleveland's work on Mall C, now called Strawbridge Plaza, saying visitors will get a "greater appreciation for the dreams of legendary urban planner Daniel Burnham."

Over 100 downtown property owners have approached the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision with requests to decrease their buildings' valuation, which would result in lower property taxes. "Nearly all major downtown commercial properties are in the mix, including many of the hotels and parking lots, the Arcade, the BP Tower, SBC headquarters and a large chunk of the businesses in the Flats."

Abandoned homes remain a problem in the City of Cleveland, and earlier this year, city inspectors identified 2,550 boarded buildings. Many factors have contributed to the situation, including an increase in foreclosures and bureaucratic red tape. Proposed solutions include more use of the city's spot blight law and better record keeping leading to efforts to keep property from becoming abandoned.

In real estate news, the 22 acre Midland Steel site is being cleared for undetermined development, and two sites along W.117th Street in Cleveland are being considered for retail development.

The Tower Press Building on Superior Avenue is held up as an example of a successful urban rehabilitation project that has turned a historic factory building into a thriving artists' community.

A meeting in Moreland Hills about two proposed zoning changes became contentious when residents raised concerns about large retailers coming to the city. "One ballot issue would rezone some residential parcels to commercial. The other would strengthen the village's two-acre-zoning by creating a residential open space conservation district."

The City of Maple Heights is exploring the possibility of creating a community development corporation devoted to rehabilitating houses and apartments in the city.

On June 21, the Village of Oakwood will hold a public hearing about the proposed Regency Park subdivision. Developers plan to build 150 homes with an average price of $220,000.

Seven Hills leaders hope to enlist the help of planners to determine uses for the stretch of Rockside Road that runs through the city. A council member also mentioned investigating the possibility of working with students at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs or Case's Weatherhead School of Management.

Legislation is under consideration in Cleveland and Lakewood that calls for each city to consider development in the other when calculating distances in zoning decisions.

The owners of Shaker Plaza are considering tearing down part of the shopping center at Van Aken and Chagrin Boulevards in order to build a Walgreens drug store. The space is currently occupied by Draeger's ice cream shop, a Sky Bank branch, and several vacant storefronts.

The cities of Euclid and South Euclid will jointly apply for a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund to support the development of a multi-purpose trail along the route of the old Euclid Railroad.

The Leadership Cleveland Class of 2004 has developed a number of focus projects that envision a future Greater Cleveland that uses renewable energy, has a downtown hostel, strengthens the region's fiberoptic network, and promotes the City as a destination, among other things.

Several Ohio communities have banned concealed weapons from municipal parks despite concerns from the Attorney General's office that the local ordinances are invalid.

Commentator Michael Gill writes about last week's Urban Communities Symposium and the ideas presented there by David Rusk.

Yesterday was the groundbreaking for Ashbury Towers, a residential development in the Stockyards neighborhood. Among the notable characteristics of the development is its guaranteed energy efficiency program, which will reimburse residents for heating and cooling costs that exceed the builder's estimates.

Parma's Stearns Homestead will be the site of a significant stream reclamation project that will restore a stream that leads to West Creek and in the process will reintroduce native species and strengthen the acquatic ecosystem, thus creating a high-visibility project demonstrating modern stormwater resource principles.

Following up on this winter's Public Utilities Commission of Ohio proceedings with FirstEnergy, the PUCO has decided to accept FirstEnergy's proposals to extend current rates through 2008, and alsowill encourage independent utilities to enter the utility market.

Businesses throughout Northeast Ohio cite the lack of large parcels of developable land in the City of Cleveland as the reason for not locating there. While the City has made efforts to facilitate the creation of large industrial parks (notably in Collinwood and near the airport), demand oftentimes exceeds supply. The shopping center planned for ISG's land on the west side of the river was also mentioned in the context of retail versus industrial development of large areas within the City.

As the Cleveland Foundation has reported a sharp increase in its assets over the past year, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution challenged the Foundation to make improving the education of Cleveland's youth its first priority.

A coalition that was formed to spur Cuyahoga County government reform, consisting of local universities, the Cleveland Bar Association, and the League of Women Voters, has decided to change its focus to economic issues. This group is separate from another group formed to restructure County government.

Cleveland Public Theatre's Arcadia Project will include the restoration of the first Romanian Orthodox Church in the United States. While the sanctuary has only been used for rehearsals and other small events, CPT plans to make it a 100-seat concert hall for accoustic music.

In one of the first major ITS projects in Greater Cleveland, The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to install a network of remote cameras, traffic counting devices, and electronic message boards on area highways in order to quickly identify and clear delays and accidents. Late this summer, a portion of the project will be tested on a section of I-90 near downtown. The system should be completed by the time Innerbelt reconstruction begins in 2008.

The Heritage Development Company will build a 10 foot high retaining wall near City View Center, currently under development in Garfield Heights. The retail center is being built on a closed landfill, and a pile of garbage moved during the course of construction has slid over 20 feet into a parking lot. Heritage says the problem will not cause a delay in construction, and once the wall is completed in July, they will remove the trash that has shifted.

The latest iteration of the Cleveland Museum of Art expansion plans show a slightly scaled-down project. Architect Rafael Viñoly's revisions call for approximately 80,000 square feet less space, the elimination of an underground parking garage, and less altering of the Marcel Breuer-designed north wing.

Following up on a report that said a ferry to Canada could be profitable, the Port Authority will solicit operators for proposals for a service that could carry approximately 800 passengers and 400 cars in a four hour trip across Lake Erie.

Author and former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk and Richard Baron of McCormack Baron & Associates were the keynote speakers at the "Urban Communities: The Future of Successful Regions" conference held on Friday. Rusk cautioned against zoning that creates racial and economic segregation, and Baron advocated for the recognition of schools as neighborhood anchors, especially in urban neighborhoods such as Tremont.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt writes about the evolving plans for the Kingsbury Run area. Infamous as the site of the Torso Murders in the 1930s, today the valley has great potential as a source of inner-city greenspace. "Stephen Goodreau, a civil engineer working on the project, estimates that there are 40 usable acres in the valley bottom, much of it publicly owned. It's enough to run a whole summer camp for children in the CMHA housing nearby, if money could be found."

With Ohio House Bill 218 stalled in a Senate committee, the Ohio Lakefront Group is turning to the courts. They filed a lawsuit in Lake County Common Pleas Court against the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, asking the court to change the legal boundary of lakefront property ownership from the high water line to the low water line.

The Cleveland Metroparks board gave the City of Cleveland permanent access to 260 acres of the Rocky River Reservation, granting permission to cut down or trim trees on 97 acres, but requiring approval before cutting down trees on the other 163. Airport officials last month requested permission to top and cut down trees that could be in a flight path when their new runway opens in August.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority $19.6 million for the demolition and reconstruction of Valleyview Homes in Tremont. CMHA plans to replace the 243 unit development with 190 mixed-income rental units and 20 homes to be sold at market rates.

Despite receiving approval from North Olmsted's Building, Zoning and Development Committee, opposition from residents and City Council members led to a vote denying the proposed rezoning for an expansion by Ganley Volkswagen on Lorain Road.

The Sun Courier provides an update on construction projects in Independence, which include new construction by Discount Drug Mart, Red Robin restaurants, Walgreens, and Le Chaperon Rouge child care.

Every unit of EcoVillage Cleveland has been sold, and the single vacant unit will be occupied by the end of the month. The 20 unit development utilizing green building techniques is centered around RTA's new W.65th Street Rapid Station, which will be completed this summer.

Groundbreaking for Ashbury Towers, a $20 million housing development on the site of the former Joseph and Feiss clothing factory at W.53rd Street and Walworth Avenue, will take place on Wednesday. Built by Ameri-Con Homes, it will consist of 150 townhouses and condominiums. The factory's administration building and water tower will be retained, and demolition of the main building was completed earlier this year.

The Sun Scoop Journal reports on the status of the new Cleveland Job Corps Center, a ten building, 20 acre campus on the former Fisher Body Plant site at Coit Road and E.140th Street. Originally scheduled to open in 2005, delays have pushed the date back to mid-2006.

The Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at CWRU will construct a new building on Bellflower Road, courtesy of a $6 million gift from the Mandel Foundation. Designs are expected to be completed late this year or early next year, and construction is scheduled to take place from spring 2005 to spring 2006.

The June 2004 edition of CNDC's Infomail (PDF) includes the announcement of the CDC Developer Connections event on June 30th, news on redevelopment efforts in Collinwood, and other community news.

Neil Peirce of the Washington Post Writers Group argues that cities should actively recruit immigrants since they bring vitality and new ideas. Peirce cites work done by Rose Zitiello and Richard Herman to make Cleveland more immigrant-friendly.

(Via Cool Cleveland)

James Levin, founder of Cleveland Public Theatre, is interviewed by Thomas Mulready, wherein he talks about the role of CPT in the Detroit Shoreway renaissance, how arts and culture should be supported, and his vision for the Arcadia Project, an initiative to create an arts and education campus centered on CPT.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has released a draft version of Access Ohio 2004-2030, its statewide multi-modal transportation plan. The first public presentations of the plan will be held later this month in Columbus.

For environmental reasons, Summit County Metroparks is opposed to the refurbishing of the Gorge Park Dam proposed in April by Advanced Hydro Solutions.

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