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October 2004 Archives

Oakwood business owner Paul Hummer is still promoting his proposed rezoning issue, despite meeting resistance from Village officials. Hummer wants to have a residential property on Macedonia Road rezoned from residential to general business.

Four agencies in southwest Cuyahoga County are partnering to provide improved transportation options for area seniors.

After the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the Jaylin Group in their zoning case, they asked the Court to reconsider. The Court will probably take three to four months to decide whether to hear the case. The Jaylin Group wants to build a housing development in Moreland Hills with a greater density than permitted by the Village, but were rejected by the Village in 2002 and by a lower court earlier this year.

The McGill Property Group, successor to Heritage Development Co., is attempting a commercial redevelopment project on Bainbridge Road in Solon.

Garfield Heights Mayor Thomas J. Longo is supporting issue 39, which would rezone 30 acres from residential to general business and permit the constrution of about half a million square feet of office and retail space.

At a meeting on October 20, a Broadview Heights steering committee discussed a plan generated by D.B. Hartt, Inc. for the I-77 and Route 82 area.

The Sun Courier profiles Alfred "Chip" Cipolletti, new director of the Cuyahoga Valley Communities Council. He recently replaced longtime director Pete Henderson, who retired in April.

Spurred by the formation of Lakewood Alive, Lakewood Councilman Patrick Corrigan is proposing the creation of a temporary economic development commission for the City.

The process of developing a master plan for the City of Brooklyn has begun with a survey of residents.

Plumbing products company Oatey recently opened a new distribution center on Industrial Parkway in Cleveland. The warehouse was built on a former brownfield site and has received a LEED silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Providence Baptist Church has offered a settlement to the City of Euclid that would allow the church to implement its plans to construct a new sanctuary and build over 100 new homes. The settlement would override the zoning issue currently on the ballot.

Fairview Park's Gemini Project, which calls for closing several older school facilities, constructing a new elementary school, and building a joint city/school district recreation center, will probably appear on the February ballot. The initiative could become a model for other cities in the region.

Mayor Campbell has merged the City's jobs task force with Greater Cleveland Partnership's task force to create a new Core City Development Team. This group will focus on planning a convention center, lakefront development, new residential development, land assembly for industry, and developing new retail. Meanwhile, the Convention & Visitors Bureau is beginning to gain new members.

Westlake residents anticipate the opening of Crocker Park with a mix of hope and concern. Disagreement lingers over whether the project will be a net fiscal gain for the community that has radically changed over the past fifty years.

Grist Magazine interviews David Orr, Chair of the Oberlin College Environmental Studies Program, and champion of sustainability.

Cuyahoga Valley steelmaker ISG has merged with Netherlands-based Mittal Steel to form the largest steel company in the world. Meanwhile, Wilbur Ross, who orchestrated the ISG turnaround is following a similar model in the coal industry.

This week's Bruce Blog includes an interview with Peter rubin, new owner of Shaker Square, updates on renewable energy efforts in Greater Cleveland, and other local urbanist news.

An unsigned editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal lauds the extension of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, calling the six miles of towpath from Harvard Rd. to the lakefront vital for telling "an important story of how a fledgling state, little more than wilderness, became a transportation and industrial powerhouse."

With Legacy Village marking its first anniversary and more new retail development on the way, the Plain Dealer presents the flip-side of increased retail space in a region with "stagnant population growth and ever-expanding suburbs", which leaves vast vacancies in existing retail centers and retail vacuums in dense urban centers.

The Plain Dealer's Voters Guide includes articles on the Cleveland Metroparks levy request, the Providence Missionary Baptist Church rezoning issues in Euclid, and the Promenade of Hudson retail rezoning issue.

With one more round of public hearings remaining on the City of Cleveland's Lakefront Plan, Plain Dealer urban planning critic Steven Litt thinks that while the intent of the plan it laudable, it comes short of triumph, particularly with regard to the lack of future plans for Burke Lakefront Airport, the FirstEnergy power plant, and the riverfront. However, if successful in its plan to make the shoreway a 35-mph boulevard, then the City will make significant progress towards improving the lakefront.

Steven Litt is disappointed with "Big & Green", the Western Reserve Historical Society's exhibition of high-performance green buildings.

Glenville's East Boulevard Historic District is the source of discontent over the restoration of early 20th-century homes versus the construction and renovation of homes using common, suburban-style techniques, including one previously discussed proposed home.

As part of an ongoing series of guest columns on arts and culture, Susie Frazier Mueller weighs in on the impact of arts entrepreneurs to the city's vitality and cites the impact of the creativity industry on neighborhood revitalization, employment, and technology transfer.

The City of North Olmsted has enlisted outside legal assistance to aid in defending the City against a zoning suit brought by Ganley Volkswagen.

Marotta Development Corporation is expected to present Chagrin Falls Village Council with the first proposal for a commercial development on city-owned land and surrounding properties along West Orange Street.

The City of Olmsted Falls is applying for $30,000 in CDBG funding in order to update the City's master plan, last revised ten years ago. A public hearing is scheduled on October 25 at 7:00 p.m. in Olmsted Falls City Hall.

Preliminary designs for new Lakewood elementary and middle schools were shown at a community meeting last week. Final designs should be completed by June 2005, and construction is projected to be completed in November 2006 for the two elementary schools and in April 2007 for the two middle schools.

School facility ideas generated by the Gemini Project will be presented at the next Fairview Park School Board meeting, Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Warrior Room at Fairview High School.

Estimated costs for the new Puritas Road Rapid Station have risen by $1.5 million to $5 million. Construction of the station is scheduled to begin in mid-2006 and to be completed by the end of 2007.

The new Hannah Gibbons Elementary School was given a a variance by the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals. It will permit the construction of a larger building than would normally be permitted on the site, while the School District continues negotiations to purchase surrounding properties.

The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission voted to grant a conditional use permit allowing a youth center to open in the former Heights United Presbyterian Church, on Lee Road near Cleveland Heights High School. The center will be leased to and operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.

A lawyer with the ACLU is challenging the signage section of the City of Hudson's zoning code. The code currently restricts political signs to eight square feet, which the ACLU feels is unconstitutional.

Besides pervasive job losses, other factors in the four year decline of Ohio's economy include a broken tax structure, dropping home selling values, declining personal income, and a stagnant gross state product.

The $1.5 billion Cleveland school construction project is well underway, especially with the Warm, Safe, and Dry repair work. According to the Bond Accountability Commission, improvement is needed in management of construction schedules, public communication, and hiring of minorities, women, and city residents.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes links to the Committee for a Greener Lakewood, dedicated to the city's sustainability, FutureHeights's call for further public input on the Lee Road exhibition, and two links related to the Cuyahoga Valley: the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Rosby Greenhouse and Resource Recovery, a sustainable business in Brooklyn Heights.

Speculation over whether Cleveland should annex East Cleveland continues, but officials from both cities haven't strongly considered it, and the "home rule" amendment of the Ohio Constitution strongly favors municipal sovereignty.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission will hold public meetings on November 9, 10, and 11 to review the final draft of their Lakefront Plan. The meetings are free and open to the public.

Despite objections from local preservationists, ISG demolished a historic blast furnace, the only remaining one on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River industrial valley.

The developer of the proposed Dollar General store in Maple Heights gained a victory when the Board of Zoning Appeals, acting on an appeal from the developer, overturned the decision of the Planning Commission, who had rejected the project. Residents plan to fight the ruling with an appeal and a referendum petition.

Mayor Clough of Westlake is against plans to cut some underused suburban bus routes, including those that serve Westlake. "Perhaps there should be a policy where every city in Cuyahoga County have at least one bus to get downtown without having to transfer," asserts Clough. RTA will hold public meetings tomorrow and Thursday to discuss the proposed changes and gather community feedback.

The Plain Dealer examines the recent trend toward denser residential developments in urban areas, including the construction of townhouses, which are finally gaining popularity despite being spurned throughout Cleveland's history of neighborhood development.

Government and nonprofit agencies held a public signing ceremony to finalize plans for extending the Towpath Trail by six miles, which would bring it up to Canal Basin Park in the Flats. The agreement makes the project eligible for federal funding.

Amidst the impending opening of three "new town center" developments in Greater Cleveland, two older examples in Columbus illustrate two different fates for large-scale built-from-scratch developments.

Meanwhile, Kristen DelGuzzi, Assistant Business Editor of the Plain Dealer offers her hopes and concerns about the dramatic increase of retail space within a region that is experiencing zero population growth, citing the Regional Retail Analysis.

The Urban League's Multicultural Business Development Center will develop a one-stop business center for minority entreprenuers and is set to receive part of a $127 million pool of capital to assist minority and urban business owners.

A study done by Social Compact, a non-profit specializing in doing market analyses of traditionally undervalued communities, found that the City of Cleveland was undercounted by 29% in the 2000 Census and that it has nearly $1 billion of annual income that has not been factored into the city's buying power. Some experts dispute these findings, arguing that the findings are too extreme.

The city's second poverty summit focused on continued development of a strategy to assist the working poor, and highlighted the opening of the city's first "lighted school", which will remain open from 3 to 9 p.m. in order to offer evening programs to the Hough neighborhood.

The old Commodore Hotel at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Ford Drive, now an apartment building, is targeted for redevelopment by University Circle, Inc., which is seeking a $5.5 million loan to create a mix of market-rate and subsidized rental housing as well as a renovation of street-level retail space.

Local artist Edward Parker relates his story of developing an arts complex in East Cleveland and its associated benefits and challenges.

GM, Honda, Toyota, and BMW are collaborating to bring cleaner burning gasoline to the marketplace, and have developed the Top Tier program, arguing that cleaner gasoline would increase engine life and decrease emissions problems. Companies such as Lubrizol stand to benefit from developing environmentally-oriented products and additives.

This Sunday's Plain Dealer included two articles on the link between economic development and arts & culture. A Cleveland State University study finds that Playhouse Square has an annual economic impact of $43 million, while Terry Stewart, Director of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum charts a new direction for the rock hall that is more community-oriented and cites a study showing that it has generated a nearly $1 billion impact over the last nine years.

Frank Mills asserts that properly structured real estate projects can fiscally benefit the developer and the community and uses a study released in August illustrating how most retail development is a net revenue drain to the community.

The completed reconstruction of West 67th Place in Cleveland promises to improve conditions for business that use the street, and highlights the importance of good infrastructure and collaborations between government, business, and organizations such as WIRE-Net to facilitate economic development.

Sixty years ago, the East Ohio Gas Co. plant in the St. Clair neighborhood exploded, killing 131 people and destroying entire city blocks.

This Tuesday, officials will break ground on the Euclid Corridor project, which is estimated to take four years and nearly $200 million to complete, and is still dealing with political disagreements. Similar projects in Boston and Los Angeles have seen significant rider increases, though some locals doubt that the popular Euclid bus routes will see the uptick in ridership.

A steel heritage museum could be built in the Cuyahoga River's industrial valley, and city and county planners, ISG executives, and Western Reserve Historical Society representatives are pursuing how the legacy of steel-making can be preserved.

Cleveland's business and innovation climate is competitive with other like-sized metropolitan areas around the nation, according to a report from CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs Center for Economic Development. The study (PDF) found that Cleveland was ranked 11th out of 35 metropolitan areas (PDF), with improvement needed in lowering the cost of doing business, kept high thanks in part to energy costs.

The latest segment in WCPN's Making Change series examines the role banks can play in funding urban housing developments.

On Wednesday, HUD's Brownfields Economic Development Initiative awarded a $2 million grant and a $4 million low-interest loan to Cuyahoga County to aid in the cleanup of the former Brush Wellman site in Bedford. The site will become Tinker's Creek Commerce Park, and one of its first tenants will be longtime Bedford company Taylor Chair, who otherwise would have moved out of the city because of a lack of expansion space.

As the election approaches, debate in Euclid continues about Issues 33 and 34, which pertain to the Providence Baptist Church rezoning. Opponents of the rezoning say the proposed development is not the best use for the land, while some supporters have countered that the opposition is racially motivated.

The Chagrin Herald Sun provides more information about the senior housing rezoning issue on the ballot in Solon.

After a heated debate, Maple Heights City Council voted not to overturn two variances granted to the proposed Dollar General store by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

City Council also overrode a veto by Mayor Michael Ciaravino, and fixed the salary for a new economic development director at $40,000. The mayor had argued that the amount was too low to attract a director equal in skill to recently departed Martine Divito.

Although opting not to implement a residential building moratorium, the City of Broadview Heights is working to solve flooding problems by creating a storm water management system.

Lakewood Alive, a new nonprofit organization promoting economic development activities, is profiled in the Lakewood Sun Post.

Lawyers for Ganley Volkswagen provided some more information regarding their lawsuit against the City of North Olmsted, saying, "After the city took its last action, we really had little choice but to go ahead with legal action."

The former Convenient Express building on Lake Shore Boulevard in North Collinwood has been razed. Demolition of the building, viewed as an eyesore and haven for criminal activity, completes the process of removing a vacant strip center. City officials and the Northeast Shores Development Corporation hope six single-family homes can be built on the site.

The City of Euclid is attempting to secure federal funding for future lakefront development, including a breakwall, a boardwalk, and possibly some road work near the Harbor Town project.

George Zeller of CEOGC asserts that while the recession may be arguably over for the U.S., heavy job losses continue to rise in Greater Cleveland.

Certain administration departments from Case Western Reserve University will move into the Halle Building, occupying 80,000 square feet of office space and bringing 325 new employees into Downtown Cleveland.

A development project that would erect a a large shopping center (with up to three large stores), offices, and possibly two hotels on 30 acres north of I-480 and west of Transportation Blvd. in Garfield Heights has been planned and is awaiting voter approval for a zoning change that would convert 40 properties from residential to general business. This development would complement City View Center, currently under construction on the other side of I-480.

Properties Magazine profiles Elaine Barnes, the Executive Director of the Cleveland Green Building Coalition.

First Interstate Properties wants to build a 100 room "Ritz-Carlton-class hotel chain" at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. The proposal is not supported by some City officials, who feel the 10 acre site is too small, and historic preservationists, who say it would intrude on the Blossom Estate Service Compound.

The Plain Dealer published two articles highlighting Ohio's byzantine tax system and illustrated the problems faced by a sample company that could consider locating in Ohio. The result is the possibility that manufacturers and other companies may not chose Ohio as a state in which to relocate, expand, or even remain due to the many layers of taxing jurisdictions and the variety of complicated rules and incentives that have been patched together over the years. The Center for Community Solutions has published ten reports focusing on the relationship between State and Local taxes and joins other voices for reform calling for the comprehensive overhaul of the Ohio tax code that has created a culture of tax avoidance and inequity.

Retaining young professionals remains a vital component for regenerating the region, and the Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club is aimed at providing professional and social support for young professional Clevelanders.

Architect Keeva Kekst, founder of KA Inc., passed away Saturday at the age of 72.

At Friday's CSU Forum event on "Regionalism and Equity," keynote speaker John Powell spoke about how government policies have exacerbated sprawl and segregation problems.

Only 16 of Ohio's 88 counties reported a population increase in children under five between 2000 and 2003. Among the counties registering a net loss were Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lorain, Medina, and Summit.

Ganley Volkswagen is suing the City of North Olmsted over its June refusal to permit an expansion by the dealership. Ganley is alleging that property is zoned unconstitutionally.

Developers of the proposed Dollar General store in Maple Heights rejected by the City's Planning Commission have filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Appeals, which will be heard on October 18.

The Siedel Farm in Strongsville, one of the County's last major agricultural properties, is being sold for a housing development, subject to rezoning approval from the City. 50 of the farm's 71.5 acres would become single family and townhouse clusters, while the remaining acreage would stay zoned for general industrial use.

The City of Cleveland is expected to pass legislation allowing Marous Brothers Construction to make emergency repairs at the company's expense to the former Fifth Church of Christ Scientist on W.117th Street. In exchange, they would receive a one year option to purchase the property.

Frustrated with a perceived lack of action from the City of Cleveland, the Euclid-St. Clair Development Corporation is again proposing an outdoor recreation project near Collinwood High School on East 152nd Street.

A front-page story in the Plain Dealer calls attention to the Cuyahoga River's environmental recovery and the efforts of the Cuyahoga River RAP to have the river's US EPA designation as an "Area of Concern" removed by addressing the pollution problems that currently plague the Cuyahoga River watershed, including oil, chemical, and debris runoff from paved surfaces and yards, and other problems including combined sewer discharges.

Libraries in Greater Cleveland and throughout Ohio are among the best in the nation according to an annual independent ranking that takes into consideration inventory, circulation, staffing, funding, reference materials, and the number of visitors.

CMHA has decided not to take over a mobile home park whose tenants petitioned for acquisition via eminent domain, citing the likelihood that the action would be judged to be an illegal taking.

Arts and culture in Cleveland received two significant boosts with the impending creation of the Arts and Cultural Tourism Center by the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the partial funding of a major Cleveland-area festival by Cuyahoga County.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will add working families to its list of preferred voucher recipients in a move that recognizes the struggles of the working poor, a group that has expanded significantly in recent years.

A collaboration to transition NASA technologies into the private sector has been launched between NASA Glenn, the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI), and Battelle. The Glenn Alliance for Technology Exchange (GATE) will bring together the heretofore separate collaborations between NASA Glenn and both OAI and Battelle (the latter through GLITeC).

An article in Utah's Deseret Morning News complains about a perceived funding imbalance between selected National Park Service units in eastern, urban areas and mainly rural, western parks. Utah parks were specifically compared to parks in cities such as San Francisco and Cleveland that receive more visitors on an annual basis. Among the examples mentioned (PDF) was the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which was previously targeted by a group whose opinions were used by a Utah congressman throughout the article.

A report (PDF) commissioned by MORPC claims that retail development is a net revenue burden on municipalities, a finding that our Regional Retail Analysis also discovered.

(Via Planetizen)

This week's Cool Cleveland brings links to another travel review of Cleveland, the Coral Company's plans for Shaker Square, and a Roldo Bartimole column on poverty, and how civic leadership ought to respond.

Overcrowding at the main men's homeless shelter downtown have led to County interest in buying the shelter and working harder at moving people into permanent housing.

A panel of experts at a Center for Regional Economic Issues forum at Case emphasized policy changes that emphasize advanced education and fostering growth in regional strengths such as "nanotechnology, medical instruments, advanced materials and environmentally sustainable activities such as solar and wind power."

The September/October issue of North Coast Newsletter (PDF), the newsletter of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, includes articles on the State of the Lake Report, the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan, and grants awarded by the agency.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt is not pleased with the plans for Steelyard Commons, calling the design formulaic, mind-numbing, and lacking in fresh vision, while questioning whether retail is the best use for the site.

When Expansion Management magazine compiled their annual list of most logistics friendly metros, they ranked the Cleveland metro area number one (PDF), giving it high marks for warehousing, interstates, railroad access, and waterborne cargo.

As the process of converting a Cleveland Heights duplex to townhomes nears completion, the First Suburbs Development Council hopes it will inspire commercial developers to attempt similar projects.

Tom Breckenridge explores the influence of New Urbanism on new developments across Northeast Ohio, including Crocker Park in Westlake, First & Main in Hudson, and Cornerstone in Parma Heights.

On Friday, the Cleveland Planning Commission approved site and design concepts for Steelyard Commons. The proposed suburban style power center would include approximately 1 million square feet of retail space on land near ISG and the Jennings Freeway. Construction could begin as early as March. The Planning Commission also recommended landmark designations for Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary School and Wilbur Wright Middle School.

The Plain Dealer provides a case study in adaptive reuse, examining the fate of former Lawson's stores in Greater Cleveland.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Superior Road streetscape improvements project (funded by a loan from the Port Authority) was held yesterday. The City of Cleveland is now accepting proposals for public art along the corridor.

Minneapolis leader Ted Mondale promoted regionalism at a Cleveland symposium on regional thinking, crediting it for powering the Twin Cities' recent successes.

J.N. Harris writes about Cleveland and the creative class at Hotel Bruce.

The latest installment of WCPN's Making Change series focuses on redevelopment efforts in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

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