Bruce Blog reviews Hotel Bruce's top stories of 2004.
December 2004 Archives
30 December 2004
RTA is celebrating its 30th anniversary today, and a review of the history of regional public transit in Greater Cleveland uncovers struggles over creating a balance between local and regional control. An editorial in the Plain Dealer urges the two remaining suburban transit systems to fully merge with RTA.
28 December 2004
27 December 2004
The McGill Property Group will seek approval from the Bainbridge Board of Zoning Appeals for a 600,000 square foot retail complex on an 85 acre site along Aurora Road near Geauga Lake.
Update: the full text of the article is now available online.
The Ohio Supreme Court reversed (PDF) its earlier ruling and agreed to hear an appeal from the Jaylin Group. The developer is challenging the Village of Moreland Hills' zoning, which requires a two acre minimum lot size. The case is expected to be heard in the spring.
Strongsville officials will ask the Zaremba Group, developers of a proposed CVS at Pearl and Royalton Roads, to move the historic Old Town Hall to the 7 acre site and construct the drugstore behind it.
As community meetings continue in Berea, many residents have expressed that they think the City has unique characteristics, and is neither an inner ring nor an outer ring community. The next meeting will be held on January 12 at City Hall.
The City of Fairview Park and the School District are holding a series public meetings to gather input and answer questions about the Gemini Project. Nearly 50 people attended the first meeting on December 16. They will be held every Thursday evening at 7:00 in City Hall until the February 8 election.
The Village of Brooklyn Heights is working with the West Creek Preservation Committee to explore the possibility of converting the Lancaster Drive culvert to a bridge.
A new apartment building on W.65th Street near Lorain Avenue called Colman Court recently opened. It will provide 33 one bedroom apartments for low income seniors.
Neighbors of the proposed Novicky Court condominiums in South Euclid, while not opposed to development of the site, feel that the current plans call for too much density.
The Hillandale Committee, a group of Euclid residents, is appealing a judge's rejection of their request to join the City as a defendant in the settled suit brought by Providence Baptist Church.
The Plain Dealer is running a week-long series on new Northeast Ohio residents, what made them choose the region, and their thoughts on the area. Articles so far have featured Cleveland Clinic surgeon Anthony Miniaci, APL director Dori Villalon, and National City banker Christine Halberstadt.
The Intermuseum Conservation Association is helping CMHA to preserve historic Work Projects Administration artwork in the Valleyview Homes complex, which is slated for demolition and redevelopment. The agency has not decided where the works will be reinstalled.
This past week's Free Times includes an article which asserts that the County's purchase of Whiskey Island represents a regional investment in the City, a review of lessons that should be learned from other cities with regard to casino gambling, and the City Chatter column reports on the City of Cleveland meeting its goal for residential development.
23 December 2004
The average size of a supermarket in the U.S. has dipped below 34,000 square feet, reflecting both a decline in new store construction and an increasing focus on smaller, neighborhood-oriented grocery stores as well as the development of niche markets such as organic, ethnic, and gourmet grocers. Median store size has also decreased from a peak of over 44,800 s.f. in 1999.
22 December 2004
Over the last year, only three states had slower population growth rates than Ohio, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 Population Estimates. Researchers attribute the population trend to job losses and birth rate declines.
(Census Bureau press release)
Steven Litt reviews an exhibition of art inspired by the Cuyahoga Valley. The exhibit includes a wide variety of contemporary creations, archival exhibits, and sections that put the art in the context of the natural and industrial history of the Cuyahoga Valley.
Recent accidents on the West Shoreway's West 28th Street exit are leading Cleveland and County officials to re-examine safety improvements for vehicles and pedestrians.
20 December 2004
The City of Akron will receive a $10.9 million loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority. It will go towards to construction of a concrete storage basin along the Little Cuyahoga River in North Akron, and should help solve the City's combined sewer overflow problems.
Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer offers a preliminary review of Crocker Park and says that while the mixed use development needs more time to mature as a real town center (as opposed to other retail developments that use New Urbanist techniques to create single-use districts), the scale, architecture, and potential mix of shoppers, residents, and workers could recreate a viable civic space, though at a cost to real urban centers throughout the region.
Michael Gill of the Free Times says that while Lakewood has excellent public transportation, the City should explore other alternative transportation methods in order to reduce parking problems and reliance on cars.
Case Western Reserve University will continue its neighborhood redevelopment plan by purchasing a four-acre site on Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue. Case's anticipated acquisition of "The Triangle" is part of its strategy to create a gathering place for students and faculty.
This evening, the City of Lakewood will unveil plans for improving Lakewood Park's shore. Financed by state grants and the City itself, the $1 million project will improve access to the narrow lakefront that is separated from the rest of the park by a 50-foot high bluff. In addition, a new fishing pier will be constructed as well as a new walkway. These improvements are part of a $6 million master plan for the entire park.
Municipal mergers are being explored in two parts of Northeast Ohio. Munroe Falls and Cuyahoga Falls in Summit County have had informal discussions about merging as a way to reduce costs, while Brunswick and Brunswick Hills are further along in their plans, and may put together a ballot issue next year.
Cuyahoga County and much of Northeast Ohio exceed US EPA soot and fine particle air pollution limits, thus joining a list of 224 counties in 20 states throughout the country whose air contains levels of fine soot that can cause or aggravate respiratory ailments. State and local governments have 3 years to develop implementation plans to meet federal standards for air quality. Recommended actions may include controlling pollution from power plants and other point-source polluters or putting into practice stronger vehicle emission and diesel fuel standards.
On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the Lakefront Plan. The 50-year blueprint for development as a whole requires no further approvals, but individual aspects of the plan would still be reviewed by the City.
Meanwhile, North Coast Harbor, which is at the center of the City's plans, is still seen as an underutilized resource with assets such as the Rock Hall and Browns Stadium, but also with geographic hurdles such as its separation from the rest of downtown, and a lack of consensus over responsibility for repairs. Creating a special entity responsible for North Coast Harbor is one solution being explored by Parkworks and some civic leaders.
17 December 2004
Lakefront plans in Euclid continue to get larger, as the developer is now calling for an additional 47 condominiums, plus the 84 already planned.
In another contentious meeting, Chagrin Falls Village Council voted 5-2 to authorize the Village to continue negotiations with Marotta Corporation to build an office building on city-owned land on W. Orange Street.
The Cleveland Housing Network completed renovation work on the first of 15 houses in Maple Heights. It is for sale for $127,000, and includes a special lower-interest mortgage.
Royal Manor Health Care has signed an agreement to purchase the 22 acre former Marycrest School on Brookside Road in Independence. They plan to build a 149 bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center on the property if they can gain approval from the State and the City.
Some Strongsville residents are opposing plans to build an outdoor swimming pool near the City's recreation center because it would encroach on the Strongsville Backyard Preserve and hiking trail plans for the area.
North Royalton resident John Sak, chairman of the North Royalton Citizens Flooding Oversight Committee, stepped down last week, unhappy with the way the City was handling the issue.
The City of Bay Village expects to complete the sale of the former Marathon Station on at Dover Center and Oviatt Roads to Dover Junction owner Ray Negrelli before the end of the year. Demolition of the building is expected to take place in January or February.
In the first year of City participation, about 30 Westlake residents spoke with the Cleveland Restoration Society about taking advantage of the Cuyahoga County Heritage Home Loan Program.
As a December 31 deadline approaches, the City of North Olmsted and RTA continue to discuss the future of the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line, and Dennis Kucinich joins Mayor Musial in opposition to a potential merger.
The latest issue of Hotel Bruce features three detailed, in-depth stories on Ohio City, its re-emergence, how its residents have been affected, and what the neighborhood could become:
- Who Can Afford Ohio City focuses on the work done by OCNW, how it has helped to attract new, wealthier residents, and its shifting emphasis away from developing affordable housing.
- Shelter From the Storm illustrates the history of community activism in Ohio City, and how the neighborhood has been a leader in grass-roots advocacy.
- Green house noodling looks toward the future of development in Ohio City, and features several design solutions addressing affordable housing, including dense, mixed-use development with greenspace and sustainable practices.
A U.S. Geological Survey report warns that the hepatitis A virus is present in samples taken from the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland, and appears to be coming through the City of Akron's sewer system. Other pathogens were also found, including salmonella bacteria and giardia microorganisms. New methods are being tested to get a faster count of bacteria, though it will not be effective for indicating the presence of viruses or other non-bacterial pathogens.
Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy says the Munroe Falls dam lowering project is close to being dead, adding, "I don't see us going forward. There are just so many roadblocks."
Lakewood Buzz supplies feedback on the recent LakewoodAlive inaugural panel discussion, which is airing multiple times this month on Cox Cable channel 74.
OSU researchers are about to undertake a $1.4 million, four-year program to study the complex relationships between human activities and Lake Erie. The study will focus on using biocomplexity as the model for understanding how biology, economics, geography, and development are connected to one another and will employ complex mathematical models to describe these interactions and illustrate the impact of Lake Erie on human activities, and vice versa.
The U.S. EPA is considering new guidelines that would allow sewage authorities to mix untreated sewage with treated wastewater during heavy rainfalls. Environmental groups, including the NRDC, argue that the new policy will negatively affect clean water standards and increase the risk of disease. Some sewage agencies counter that this approach treads the middle ground between releasing untreated sewage and costly infrastructure upgrades.
Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell promoted Planning Director Chris Ronayne to Chief of Staff, where he will oversee the city's development agenda.
Rep. Ralph Regula is under fire from groups in the west who are opposed to a provision in the latest omnibus spending bill that would extend a pilot program that would charge visitor fees at recreation areas run by four federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service.
Schedule and route changes to selected RTA buses and the Waterfront Line will take place this Sunday in response to shifting needs.
16 December 2004
An editorial in the Plain Dealer calls for Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland, and the Port Authority to work together on the future of Whiskey Island, citing the need to conserve fiscal and political resources and the importance of "mapping a common agenda."
15 December 2004
The City of Cleveland is looking to hire a Sustainability Programs Manager. The new position, to be housed in the Public Works Department, will be responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining a sustainability program across all City departments.
(via EcoCity Cleveland)
In this week's Cool Cleveland, Roldo Bartimole objects to the way the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority is operating, Timothy McCue writes about downtown living, and Andy Birol says we should not fear losing college graduates, because they will return with new ideas, experiences, and perspectives.
Video store ownership and the Cities of Cleveland and Parma reached an agreement yesterday to limit the amount of adult materials sold in the Brookpark Road store, only to have the deal collapse hours later.
Pulte Homes decided to pay the Woodgate Farms water and sewer assessment in full, and not to employ the earlier installment payments they had offered, satisfying angry homeowners. Other Olmsted Township homebuilders have implemented or are considering similar plans.
After unsuccessfully trying to amend the Planning Commission's recommendation, Munroe Falls City Council approved the Cuyahoga River dam lowering with the same stipulations. The future of the project remains in question.
14 December 2004
Mayor Campbell continues her criticism of Cuyahoga County's pending Whiskey Island purchase, and says the funds should instead go to MetroHealth Medical Center. Meanwhile, columnist Sam Fulwood thinks Mayor Campbell is taking a large risk with her support for casino gambling in Cleveland.
Beginning July 1, Ohio businesses will begin collecting sales taxes based on destination of use rather than on where the sale takes place. The Ohio Department of Taxation has not been able to provide estimates of how the change will affect sales tax revenues.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has received a $5 million grant from the Gund Foundation for its expansion project.
13 December 2004
Several months after the announcement of a proposal to redevelop the south side of Cedar Center, a pair of developers have put together a plan to redevelop the South Euclid section of Cedar Center with a mix of stores, townhouses, and restaurants. The city may attempt to use eminent domain to acquire the land that would be consolidated for the project, but developers will attempt to purchase the land first.
The Cleveland Theater District Development Corp. is lobbying the city to create a "Community Entertainment District" around Playhouse Square. This designation would allow more liquor licenses to be distributed throughout the district. Proponents argue that this action would lure more restaurants to the area, while detractors express concern that the designation would attract low-quality bars.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will continue its attempt to acquire Whiskey Island land via eminent domain. Cuyahoga County commissioners will vote on their proposed purchase of the same property tomorrow.
Scott Wolstein, who is proposing a $170 million mixed use development on the east bank of the flats, appears to be asking for $20 million in infrastructure improvements from the City of Cleveland, according to the 2005 State Capital Budget Requests. The city-funded capital improvements would be in addition to $3 million already earmarked by the state for the project.
10 December 2004
The Village of South Russell will purchase the 103 acre Muggleton Farm on E. Washington Street, with the help of the Chagrin River Land Conservancy. Only government and recreation uses will be permitted on the site, and the Village plans to conduct a master plan for it next year.
The City of North Royalton may implement a temporary building freeze for large portions of the City while flood control options are explored and implemented.
A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge upheld the City of Brook Park's 2003 decision that prevented Giant Eagle from installing a gas station at its Snow Road store.
The City of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township are competing for CDBG funding to update their master plans.
Fundraising efforts continue in the work to save the historic Barton Road Congregational Church in North Olmsted by moving it to the Cleveland Metroparks' Frostville Museum. The Olmsted Historical Society must move the building by June 1 to save it from demolition.
The Bay Village Planning Commission unanimously denied an expansion request by Bradley Bay Health Center, whose owner wants to build a two story, 84 bed independent living facility. The nursing home may take the issue to the courts if City Council also turns down the proposal.
As the City of North Olmsted and RTA continue negotiations about the future of the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line, City officials hope to retain autonomy.
The City of Cleveland's request to close an adult store on Brookpark Road will be heard on Tuesday. Cleveland Municipal Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka delayed the case, and plans to bring all concerned parties together at 11:00 a.m. If an agreement is not reached then, a hearing will begin at 2:30 p.m.
A 14 unit condominium development called Novicky Court has been proposed for a site near St. Gregory the Great Church in South Euclid. Designs call for units from 1600 to 2000 square feet priced between $170,000 and $180,000. A public hearing will be held on December 16 at 7:00 p.m. in South Euclid City Hall.
Plans for building a Walgreens at Shaker Plaza are back to where they began, as the City of Shaker Heights asked the developer to return to their original concept of demolishing the eastern third of the center to make room for the drugstore.
Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy does not think the County can meet the City of Munroe's conditions for lowing the Cuyahoga River dam, and says he has "no intention of following through on the project as it is right now."
Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell outlined her priorities for next year, including moving forward on the convention center, exploring options for Burke Lakefront Airport, using tax incentives to attract companies, and advocating for state legislation to bring casino gambling to Cleveland.
This week's Plain Dealer editorials include an exhortation for Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Juvenile Judges to immediately begin construction on a new youth intervention center, as well as encouragement to the Ohio General Assembly to improve and pass House Bill 432 to better regulate the environmental effects of construction and demolition debris landfills.
Forest Hill Park in East Cleveland is improving, thanks largely to the volunteer-led nonprofit East Cleveland Parks Association.
09 December 2004
The Munroe Falls Planning Commission approved the proposed lowering of the City's dam on the Cuyahoga River, subject to several conditions. The project will go before City Council next week.
RTA's Brookpark Road station may become the center of a hotel and restaurant complex if a tentative agreement between the transit authority and a developer comes to fruition. Work may begin next year on the 14 acre, $60 million project that would include two hotels, four restaurants, and a parking garage that would complement a new rapid transit station, one stop away from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
08 December 2004
Cuyahoga County has purchased the eastern 62 acres of Whiskey Island, located west of the mouth of the Cuyahoga. While County plans for the $6.25 million purchase include converting the historic site to a public park, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority previously planned to seize the land via eminent domain. The City had designated Whiskey Island in its Lakefront Plan, specifically the Edgewater/Old River Channel Master Plan, for use as a park and the relocation of the Port of Cleveland.
Officials from the U.S. and Canada signed a declaration that outlines a comprehensive plan to clean up the Great Lakes and its waterways. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration was established to bring together federal, state, local, and tribal entities to develop a strategy to protect water quality and improve both the environmental and the economic health of the Great Lakes basin. Eight Great Lakes Issue Area Strategy Teams will address habitat/species, indicators and information, bioaccumulative toxics reduction, invasive species, sustainable development, coastal health, non-point source pollutants, and restoration/sediments.
Lyndhurst City Council has approved variances that will allow the construction of a new temple on Cedar Road between Richmond and Green Roads. While the former Warrensville Center Synagogue is permitted to build on less than an acre of land, the congregation will continue its federal suit against Lyndhurst in an attempt to eliminate the two-acre zoning code requirement.
The Cleveland Housing Network may expand its Homeward program by building and selling moderately priced homes. Previously, the Network has focused on more affordable housing development in Cleveland and its suburbs. The Homeward program will offer homes that will sell from $100,000 for renovated homes, and from $140,000 for new homes.
The last two municipal bus lines in the county may merge into the Regional Transit Authority. RTA officials and the cities of North Olmsted and Maple Heights are presently in negotiations over reimbusements and contracts.
The Convention Facilities Authority will choose a site by early January and plan to issue major financial and project recommendations by April 30th. Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell has already voiced support for renovating the existing site over building on the Forest City site adjacent to Tower City.
A proposal in Chagrin Falls to construct a private office building on public land was brought forward in a public meeting last night, and was met by legal and political threats from proponents and opponents of the project.
Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson does not support Summit County's plans to lower the city-owned dam on the Cuyahoga River, saying the City would not "derive any benefits as a community from lowering the dam." In an editorial, the Akron Beacon Journal supports the lowering and says the City should consider its "role in the larger region."
07 December 2004
Yesterday's City Club luncheon included a debate between Ohio Rep. Chris Redfern and David Zanotti of the Ohio Roundtable concerning casino gambling and whether it should be permitted in Cleveland.
06 December 2004
With Wal-Mart poised to enter the City of Cleveland, many are contemplating how the giant will impact the City's retail market. Existing supermarkets and other retailers wonder if they will be able to compete, and labor leaders worry about the company's anti-union stance.
In the latest installment of the Plain Dealer's series of guest columns on arts and the economy, James Levin imagines what the future might hold for a Cleveland with a thriving arts community.
The Cleveland-Akron metro area was ranked third safest for pedestrians, according to Mean Streets 2004, a national study from the Surface Transportation Policy Project. Only Boston and Pittsburgh scored better, with Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale at the other end of the scale.
Despite legal problems and work stoppages, Mayor Zanotti of Parma Heights remains upbeat about the future of the Cornerstone project.
Tom Bier provides his perspective on tax abatements for residential development in Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs and how the region should finance redevelopment in the urban core. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial remarks on the redevelopment of Central and how continued facilitation of residential development in the neighborhood is essential to the health of the City.
Another lakefront controversy is swirling around a proposed ODNR rule change. Among the items in a proposed simplification of rules is replacing the agency's lease program for lakefront improvements with a permit system. This does not sit well with the Ohio Lakefront Group, a group of lakefront property owners who want fewer regulations. The group was unsuccessful in their efforts to change the legal definition of lakefront property earlier this year. ODNR will accept public comments at a meeting on January 4 in Sandusky.
An eminent domain trial was avoided when the Medina County Park District, land owners William and Maloa Palmer, and Continental Business Enterprises Inc. reached an purchase agreement for the contested Chippewa Lake site.
03 December 2004
On Sunday, a grand opening celebration will be held for Brunswick Town Center, an attempt to create a main street retail environment from scratch. Located at U.S. 42 and Ohio 303, its anchors are a Home Depot and a Giant Eagle.
The City of Independence will hold a public hearing on Wednesday to learn about Royal Manor Health Care's proposal to open a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center for seniors at the former Marycrest School on Brookside Road.
Solon Councilman David Krus announced his opposition to plans to extend Springside Road in order to open 7.5 acres to residential construction, and is trying to interest local land conservatives in the area.
Broadview Heights City Council continues to discuss solutions to the City's stormwater management problems.
Developers of Renaissance Park say they have preliminary commitments from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Circuit City, and Lowe's to open in the center, a 287,000 square foot retail development proposed for Pearl and Whitney Roads in Strongsville. However, they also say the project will not proceed as configured unless the City agrees to provide $5.1 million in tax increment financing.
Among Grow Lakewood's initial findings is that maintaining the quality of the City's housing is a high priority of many residents.
With surveys being returned by residents, work on the Brooklyn Master Plan has begun in earnest. Beginning in January, the Master Plan Advisory Committee will begin to discuss goals and policies for future development in the City.
The City of Cleveland and the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation recently convened a meeting about the Big Creek Valley, at which the Friends of the Big Creek Valley was formed.
A proposal for 40 cluster homes at Winchester Road and Golfway Lane was not received favorably by the Lyndhurst Planning Commission. Developer Joe Aveni will refine the plans before bringing them to the board again.
02 December 2004
Rysar Properties says they are close to signing agreements with Giant Eagle and an unnamed retailer for their big box development near W.117 Street in Cleveland. The company has reached purchase agreements for all but one of the 104 houses which would be demolished to make way for the center.
An Ohio EPA-backed plan to improve Cuyahoga River water quality by lowering a dam is in jeopardy because of disagreements between the City of Munroe Falls and Summit County. If the dam is not lowered, sewage plants along the river would be required to make costly improvements. Meanwhile, 100 scientists met yesterday to share ideas on how to monitor Great Lakes water quality and reduce health risks.
01 December 2004
After initial plans to develop a grand "gateway" to Chagrin Falls that required the demolition of three historic homes, Village officials have settled on allowing the construction of one two-story office building. The village might give the developer the land, $900,000 worth of tax abatements, ongoing maintenance of a parking garage, and $120,000 worth of streetscaping in return for anticipated income tax revenues and nighttime and weekend access to 91 parking spaces.
Ohio's Third Frontier project has unveiled a new high-speed fiber-optic data network intended to facilitate research and development throughout the state. Meanwhile, Case Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick comments on Cool Cleveland about the progress made by OneCleveland to create the first community-wide ultrabroadband platform in the country.