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January 2005 Archives

In an article recalling the career of famed architect Philip Johnson, Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt points to the Cleveland native as a catalyst for quality design in Northeast Ohio, even though only two of his major works are located here: the "Turning Point" sculptures at Case, and the Cleveland Play House expansion.

For the first time since the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969, ODNR has issued an approval to fish the Cuyahoga River in two specific areas. However, the normal advisories regarding fish consumption still apply.

The last commercial landfill in Cuyahoga County has closed, and waste that previously came from homes, businesses, and industries throughout the county will now be diverted to other landfills throughout the state. Norton Environmental will formally close the Royalton Road landfill but will monitor it over the next 30 years for methane gas leaks and groundwater pollution while it operates a transfer station on the site.

Steve Talbott of the Plain Dealer provides a perspective on Forest City and its role in the development of downtown Cleveland with respect to the convention center decision.

Berea leaders are searching for a new location for their new courthouse, after soil samples found old foundry sand and ash 55 feet deep at the initial construction site, which would have added $2 million to construction costs.

RTA and the City of North Olmsted are holding discussions about the future of the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line and a possible merger, while Dennis Kucinich wants RTA to renew the existing five year contract and conduct a study comparing the two agencies.

The latest Bruce Blog includes commentary on Cleveland support of bike lanes on the Euclid Corridor, the near-dissolution of the Ohio Rail Development Commission and the Ohio Hub plan, the beverage tax and its impact on the sewer district, the outcome of a recent talk about neighborhood retail, and a proposed bike route through Shaker Heights.

The Cleveland Metroparks are engaged in innovative environmental programs throughout their system, including the Grow No Mow concept and several in-house recycling methods.

Although he is in support of Steelyard Commons, Cleveland City Councilman Joseph Cimperman has reservations about how the City is handling the development. He feels it was rushed through the City Planning Commission, and worries about its potential impacts on traffic and neighborhood retail.

Because the City of Fairview Park and the Fairview Park School District do not have identical borders, the Gemini Project will appear as two issues on the February 8 ballot.

Rocky River Mayor William Knoble does not support the Jacobs Groups' plans to demolish Westgate Mall and replace it with a power center similar to Avon Commons.

State Senator Kirk Schuring is introducing legislation that would create a 25% tax credit for the restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings in Ohio.

In an editorial sent to the Plain Dealer, a former County Juvenile Court judge argues that expansion of the juvenile justice center should take place downtown at its present location rather than have a new center built on the E. 93rd St. site.

In preparation for theEuclid Corridor project, reconstruction of the infrastructure beneath Euclid Avenue has already begun, and will continue through 2008. Most water and sewer lines will be replaced, but Euclid Ave. will remain open throughout construction.

The Free Times documents the local economic development community's reaction to reports that the CDBG program could be dramatically cut.

In this week's Scene, Pete Kotz writes that building a new convention center would be a poor use of public funds.

In response to rumors that a Wal-Mart supercenter may locate in Steelyard Commons, an ordinance has been introduced to Cleveland City Council that would prevent stores larger than 90,000 square feet from devoting more than five percent of their sales floor area to nontaxable merchandise. If passed, supercenters that combine large-scale grocery sales (which would compete with existing supermarkets) with discount department stores would be prevented from entering the City.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt reviews the latest vision for the Euclid Corridor and praises the design of the project, especially the public art elements. Concern was also expressed about how the corridor will be maintained and how so many amenities could comfortably fit within the 100-foot right of way, (including bike lanes).

Developers withdrew plans to construct a seniors-oriented development in Streetsboro, but may decide to locate the project characterized as an "active adult community" elsewhere in Northeast Ohio.

Several local projects will benefit from the state's $1.5 billion, two-year construction budget, including the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Third Frontier program, and public schools throughout the region.

Cleveland Restoration Society Executive Director Kathleen H. Crowther urges area leaders to coordinate their downtown construction efforts and promotes the reuse and expansion of existing historic facilities.

A Chagrin Falls resident's concerns have led the Village to reconsider its plans for repaving Main Street with asphalt as part of its streetscape improvement project. The Village is now exploring the possibility of restoring the brick street.

The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies is proposing a national tax on canned and bottled beverages. The tax on bottled water, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages would provide funds for sewage treatment-related construction.

After major arts organizations with multi-million dollar budgets dominated the first round of funding presented by the Cuyahoga County Arts & Culture as Economic Development Grants, the County Department of Development has decided for the next funding cycle to set aside 40% of grant money for smaller arts organizations, described as having annual budgets of less than $1.5 million. Organizations would also be prohibited from receiving funding in two consecutive grant rounds.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board voted not to sell land to the City of University Heights which would have been subsequently sold to the private Fuchs Mizrachi School to construct a new building. The head of the private school indicated that they would concentrate on expanding on their present site.

Although the Ohio House subcommittee on growth and land use did not produce a report, Chairman Larry Wolpert released his unofficial Observations and Recommendations (MS Word) to the public.

While new retail development mainly in the form of "lifestyle centers" continues throughout Greater Cleveland, a few companies are concentrating on purchasing existing malls in order to make them more competitive. The renovation and expansion of SouthPark Center is an example of how local malls are beginning to rebrand themselves.

Two recent Plain Dealer editorials call for the Convention Facilities Authority to read a recent report from Heywood Sanders, and laud the Cuyahoga County Commissioners for their decision to begin construction of the new juvenile justice center.

The opening of a new grocery store in the Warehouse District is anticipated to add to downtown's residential character and viability as a true neighborhood.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission withheld approval of RTA's plans to rebuild Euclid Avenue in order to give the two entitles plus ODOT time to put official bike lanes back into the plan.

The Cleveland Clinic will donate $10 million over the next five years to Cleveland Public Schools, including devoting part of the pledge to connect the schools to the OneCleveland network. The Clinic's chief executive maintained that their gift is not connected to the County Treasurer's recent request for major area non-profits to make voluntary donations to the Cleveland school system.

Erickson Retirement Communities, a Baltimore-based developer of senior housing, hopes to build an upscale senior citizen community in Orange. The development is planned for an 80 acre site east of the Chagrin Highlands and south of Harvard Road, and would offer 1500 residences. A zoning change would be required for the complex, and Mayor Mulcahy expects the issue to go before voters in 2006.

Last month, the City of Solon launched a web-based GIS. The publicly-available system includes property information, zoning, natural and man-made features, aerial imagery, data for neighboring Bentleyville and Glenwillow, plus a tutorial.

Cleveland State professor Thomas Bier recently spoke to a gathering of Bedford leaders, advised them to build upon their existing assets by preserving their historic buildings, and cautioned that the city may experience continued outmigration.

CVS has declined the City of Strongsville's request to move the Old Town Hall to a more prominent location at the southeast corner of Pearl and Royalton Roads, citing their desire to achieve high visibility for a store they may build on the site.

The City of Middleburg Heights and the Cleveland Metroparks continue to work on a 2.1 mile trail that would connect Lake Isaac and Lake Abram. Despite being outbid for a major parcel in 2003, the Metroparks have acquired over 63 acres for the project.

Activity surrounding Fairview Park's Gemini Project is increasing as the February 8 election nears. Attendance at weekly community meetings has been strong, and supporters say that no organized opposition has emerged.

Demolition and cleanup of deteriorating greenhouses is nearly complete at the Pretzer property, a 14 acre Village-owned site in Brooklyn Heights. The land is part of a 103 acre area north of Schaaf Road, on which the Village's master plan calls for residential and industrial development.

The City of Cleveland is prepared to purchase the site of a former Big Lots store on Lake Shore Boulevard once an environmental cleanup of the property is completed. The purchase was authorized by City Council in 2002 for expansion of recreational opportunities. Most residents want to see a recreation center built on the site, but Mayor Campbell, who says the City cannot afford to build one, favors using it for an expansion of nearby Humphrey Park.

On Monday, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board may vote on a proposed sale of land near Gearity Elementary School. The City of University Heights has offered to purchase the 5 acre site and then sell it to the private Fuchs Mizrachi School for a new building. At a recent community forum, most residents who spoke opposed the sale.

North Olmsted Mayor Norman Musial is trying to enlist help from others in his fight to maintain the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line as an independent agency and avoid a merger with RTA.

Bay Village City Council upheld a Planning Commission ruling from last month and denied Bradley Bay Health Center's expansion request. Observers expect the issue will eventually be resolved in the courts.

While most residential and commercial waste sent to landfills could have been recycled, cities facing budget constraints are exploring the possibility of cutting curbside pickup of recycleables. Presently, recycling and garbage pickup is funded through property taxes. However, ODNR's Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention advocates a Pay-As-You-Throw model that treats solid waste programs as a utility where users pay for garbage pickup by volume or weight of disposed waste.

Meanwhile, the Lakewood School District has an arrangement with a contractor to recycle construction and demolition waste from homes and buildings removed for school expansions. Both the District and the contractor will split the proceeds from the scrap sales.

Rumors persist that the Steelyard Commons retail development is highly likely to include a Wal-Mart. While retail development in general creates more municipal expenses than revenues, Wal-Mart in particular appears to be a much greater drain on the economy and government budgets by creating a net loss in local employment while replacing existing jobs with lower-wage occupations. This is supported by a Penn State study which indicates that counties that gained a new Wal-Mart store experienced significantly lower reductions in family poverty rates than other counties.

(via Callahan's Cleveland Diary)

While Northeast Ohio continues to talk about regionalism, an appointed commission in Western New York has developed a plan to merge city and county government to create a new political entity: the "Regional City of Buffalo". The details of the report illustrate their region's own struggles with merging jurisdictions, and, to the chagrin of some, stops short of consolidating all of the municipalities in Erie County. Instead, only the governments of the City of Buffalo and Erie County will be brought together. Supporters of the initiative see it as a first step towards improving education, abating urban sprawl, and making government more efficient.

Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected today to vote to build a new youth intervention center and courthouse on the East 93rd St. and Quincy Ave. site, thus moving Juvenile Court judges and the detention center from the existing facilities on East 22nd.

The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization has relaunched their web site, which includes facts about the organization and its projects, plus information for current and prospective residents and businesses. Burten, Bell, Carr Development recently updated their site, adding information about Arbor Park Place, East 72nd Street Plaza, and East Central Place.

(via Neighborhood News)

Munroe Falls City Council unanimously approved lowering the City's Cuyahoga River dam. This project and a similar one completed in Kent are expected to improve the river's water quality.

In the latest Cool Cleveland, Roldo Bartimole comments on recent Convention Center proceedings and asks why Heywood Sanders will not be providing input.

Bill Callahan comments on the Bush Administration's plan to cut HUD's community branch, including slashing the CDBG program in half. While the Administration maintains that the Commerce Department will take over the program, the focus of the program will likely shift from revitalizing urban areas towards broad economic development initiatives that are not place-specific, and may be more focused on exurban, rural, and rapidly-developing areas.

As local leaders continue to push for a new convention center, a new study by Heywood Sanders indicates that trade show attendance has dropped to 1993 levels, while capital spending on convention centers has doubled since 1990. Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer reviews responses from recent arrivals to the area in their recent "Why I'm Here" series, and notes that none of them suggested "big ideas" as a way of improving the region.

Steven Litt reviews and compares the two convention center proposals, the expansion of the existing center favored by Jane Campbell, and the updated version of the Forest City riverfront plan initially proposed last year.

The City of Cleveland Heights' experiment of purchasing a Derbyshire Road duplex and renting it to police officers was a success, as police calls to the area dropped from 184 in 2002 to four last year. The City now plans to sell the house after repeating its Beechwood Avenue project of converting the duplex to townhomes.

Plans to sell the old Hudson library building to GTS Services for use as offices remain controversial, as some residents do not want to see a change in land use.

Greater Cleveland was ranked 35th in Expansion Magazine's list of 50 hottest cities for business expansions and relocations. Topping the list were Nashville, Atlanta, and Kansas City.

(via Planetizen)

Recently renovated East 4th Street may gain two more entertainment options. The owners of Lola Bistro are contemplating a move from Tremont, and developer MRN Ltd is seeking tax credits for a GameWorks arcade and restaurant.

The Berea Planning Commission approved a rezoning of several parcels from single-family to multi-family in order to permit the construction of an apartment building at Bagley Road and Runn Street, despite objections from residents about the density of the proposed development.

Construction of the mixed-use Cornerstone project in Parma Heights, delayed by financial and construction problems, is expected to resume in the next 30 days.

The Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and the City of Cleveland have been working to obtain a national historic district designation for the South Brooklyn neighborhood around Pearl and Broadview Roads. A state-level monitoring group approved the proposal in December, and the National Park Service may make a final decision in March.

EcoCity Cleveland has recently added a Transportation Choices Weblog which will focus on Northeast Ohio transportation issues from a sustainability perspective.

Leaders in the Village of Bratenahl and the City of Cleveland are discussing potential boundary realignments in two areas, one along E.140 Street and Lake Shore Boulevard and the other near the East Shoreway and Eddy Road.

Progessive Insurance is appealing the Highland Heights Planning and Zoning Commission's denial of the company's request to build a claims service station and parking lot on Alpha Drive. The ten acre site is currently zoned for park commercial manufacturing, and Progressive's proposal to develop three of those acres is not supported by City officials, who do not want a retail operation on the site, and hope a large corporation will eventually take an interest in the entire site.

The latest Bruce Blog includes commentary on changing Euclid Corridor bike lanes to bike routes, information on work underway in Coventry Village and Ohio City to create innovative Transit Waiting Environments, and other urban development stories from around the region.

Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett lists suggestions for improving Northeast Ohio that were provided by area residents for the Civic Innovation Lab's Urban Scrawl.

Veteran planner Robert Brown is the new City of Cleveland planning director, succeeding Chris Ronayne, who was recently named Mayor Campbell's chief of staff.

GTS Services of Twinsburg may purchase the old Hudson Library and Historical Society building on Aurora Street for its offices. The Burton D. Morgan Foundation also has expressed an interest in the site, but wants to demolish the building for parking and gardens, a proposal that City officials do not support.

The recent mid-winter thaw is highlighting the significance of creeks and waterfalls throughout the Cuyahoga River watershed. Recent investments toward creating public access to waterways in order to interpret the history and geography (PDF) of the region have included the two-year-old Mill Creek Falls History Center located adjacent to the highest falls in Cuyahoga County.

The Munroe Falls Planning Commission approved a new set of conditions for lowering the City's Cuyahoga River dam, overruling previous terms it set in December. City Council is expected to discuss the proposal on Tuesday.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes an article on the Beachland Ballroom and its role in the revitalization of the North Collinwood neighborhood.

RTA broke ground on a new Red Line rapid station at E.105 Street and Quincy Avenue yesterday. The station, scheduled for completion this fall, will replace an existing stop, and is near the proposed Cuyahoga County juvenile detention center.

A site near Glenn Research Center in Brook Park is one of three finalists in the competition for NASA's national consolidated business operations, the NASA Shared Services Center. The other finalists are Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NASA expects to decide on a site in May.

Yesterday, Forest City presented its revised proposal for building a convention center adjacent to Tower City to the Convention Facilities Authority. Improvements to the previous proposal include moving the center back from the river's edge and providing space for the Towpath Trail and Scenic Railroad. However, Forest City dropped its commitment to tie redevelopment of Scranton Peninsula to construction of the convention center.

At FutureHeights' 2005 Annual Meeting on January 19, the guest speaker will be economic development expert Donovan Rypkema of Place Economics.

The law directors of Summit County and the City of Munroe Falls have devised a revised set of conditions for lowering the City's dam on the Cuyahoga River. If City and County officials agree to the new terms, they could replace an earlier set imposed by the City. The Munroe Falls Planning Commission may vote on the issue this Wednesday.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt challenges Case to innovatively develop a campus crossroads at the corners of Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue, including the recently purchased complex, "The Triangle". Developments at the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, and Georgia Tech were provided as illustrations for how a university could connect to the city that surrounds it.

Litt also highlighted investments that other universities such as the University of Cincinnati, Arizona State, and most notably, the Illinois Institute of Technology are making in contemporary architecture, and calls for Case to emulate their examples.

The Ohio House subcommittee on growth and land use failed to deliver a report that would have provided ideas to slow sprawl and preserve farmland despite conducting eight hearings and having over a year to develop recommendations.

The City of Cleveland gave final approval for the development of Steelyard Commons. Changes made to the plans for the retail center include the shifting of the Towpath Trail to the eastern boundary of the development.

The Cleveland Planning Commission approved a zoning change that would block further development of Creekside Reserve until the builder fixes drainage and landscaping problems in already-completed homes in the neighborhood.

Chagrin Falls Village Council is expected to hear a plan from a second private developer for new construction on West Orange Street. Ronie Kertesz wants replace the Ski & Sport Haus building with a two story retail and office structure. The proposal is in addition to one recently introduced by Marotta Corporation on nearby city owned land.

Independence mayor Fred Ramos says that this year, the City will focus on revitalization and growth in its downtown business district.

The City of Parma joined other Cuyahoga County communities in participation in the Heritage Home Loan program, which provides low-interest loans for repairs of older houses.

The Sun Banner Pride reviews The City of Wadsworth's 2004 expansions, including the Wadsworth Crossings annexation.

Cleveland Heights City Council approved a variance allowing the Heights Youth Club to open in the former Heights United Presbyterian Church on Lee Road, but added nine conditions. Among the conditions, some of which overrule a Planning Commission decision, are restrictions on the center's hours and a residency requirement for members.

A coalition of local officials and environmentalists are petitioning Governor Taft to veto a bill that would strip counties and townships of zoning authority that was given by House Bill 148. The original legislation, which expanded the authorities of counties and townships to regulate construction based on the "general welfare" of residents, would be greatly weakened by an amendment made to Senate Bill 18, a bill ostensibly intended to change the composition of metropolitan housing authorities. (The Ohio Supreme Court recently issued an order against this practice of "logrolling" unrelated amendments to other bills.)

As part of their $1.5 billion school construction project, Cleveland Public Schools will purchase 1.3 acres near the intersection of West 65th St. and Storer Ave. as the first acquisition of a total of 14.5 acres for the site of a new high school.

Central Catholic High School will be the beneficiary of a $1.5 million gift from Third Federal Savings and Loan. While the donated money and land will be used for the expansion of the high school, it will also have the effect of revitalizing the Slavic Village neighborhood by reusing blighted properties and strengthening a community institution.

Cameras were recently installed on the Detroit-Superior Bridge that will monitor vehicles in order to control traffic signals, replacing older pavement-embedded sensors. The cameras will not be used to take pictures or for law-enforcement.

Amidst recent local news regarding Cleveland's sustainability efforts, work on increasing trail access, and attention paid to why innovative professionals chose to move to Cleveland, two articles focus on what companies and government can do to nurture vibrant communities.

(via CoolTown Studios and Planetizen)

A ULI Cleveland event on Thursday, January 20th will explore and discuss the possibilities for "Bus Rapid Transit" oriented development along the Euclid Corridor.

The January 2005 edition (PDF) of CNDC's Infomail reports on last month's groundbreaking of the Bessemer Avenue Extension and urges the County to continue efforts to construct the youth intervention center at the Quincy/East 93rd St. site.

City Chatter in the Free Times reports that plans to include bike lanes along the Euclid Corridor may have been modified by project managers to lose official status as bike lanes and instead receive lesser designation as a "route".

The CMHA board voted last night to work with a developer to undertake a major renovation or complete redevelopment of Garden Valley Estates, consisting of 25 acres of deteriorating public housing located in the Kinsman neighborhood adjacent to Kingsbury Run. Included in the plan would be the relocation of CMHA offices and departments nearby on East 79th Street at the old Van Dorn complex.

A study released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources concludes that 60% of residential and commercial waste sent to landfills could have been recycled, including paper waste, which makes up 41% of the tossed out recycleables. According to the Solid Waste District, increased public awareness and convenient access to recycling programs are needed to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfills and sent to businesses that would pay municipalities for these materials and extract value from what would otherwise become trash.

Due to an increase in invasive species entering the Great Lakes through ballast water discharges, some policymakers and scientists are advocating banning ocean-going vessels from Great Lakes waters.

A National Wildlife Foundation report (PDF) outlines the dangers that invasive species pose to the Great Lakes food chain, a problem that has attracted increased attention from sportsmen.

(via Planetizen and GLIN)

Wired Magazine says we are in the third golden age of bridge building, and cities across the country and around the world are building iconic bridges for economic development, tourism, and aesthetic reasons, in addition to their role in transportation. Projects in Aas, Norway, Millau, France, and Boston, Massachusetts can serve as positive examples for developments elsewhere. A new signature bridge across the Cuyahoga River has been proposed as a replacement for the Innerbelt Bridge.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis wants to provide more funding to Cleveland Public Schools by asking nonprofits to make voluntary payments to the school system in lieu of property taxes that institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals currently do not pay. Bill Callahan provides commentary on this issue as well as background information, including links to studies commissioned by Rokakis.

Initial work has begun on planning the 72 mile Western Reserve Heritage Trail and Greenway. The regional effort is exploring the possibilty of converting an underused rail corridor to a multipurpose trail starting in Cleveland's Slavic Village and connecting to Garrettsville, Warren, and Youngstown. The trail is also envisioned as part of a larger regional and national trail system.

The Cleveland Foundation's Successful Aging Initiative has awarded over $170,000 to six Cuyahoga County communities to study the needs of older residents and how well those needs are being met. The City of Cleveland received a $45,000 grant, and $25,000 grants went to collaborations led by Bedford, Brook Park, Lakewood, Maple Heights, and Orange.

The Lakewood Sun Post examines efforts by RTA and other local agencies encouraging transit oriented developments in Greater Cleveland.

Although their earlier efforts to purchase Laurelwood Hospital in Willoughby were unsuccessful, the owners of Windsor Hospital in Chagrin Falls still plan to move to a new facility. Ardent Health Services of Nashville is currently in negotiations to purchase land for a new building along the I-271 corridor in Cuyahoga County. Windsor Hospital is expected to close in the next 18 months to two years.

The City of Rocky River is instituting inspection and fee changes for rental housing, following a local trend of stricter policies intended to maintain housing quality.

As an alternative to building their own parking garage, Rocky River City Council approved a 15 year, $980,000 lease of a garage to be built at Beachcliff Market Square. Redevelopment of the center is expected to begin in February or March, with the first phase taking 14 months.

The Detroit Shoreway neighborhood will see significant residential, commercial, and streetscape changes in the next year, including the addition of the Near West Theatre and art-film cinema space to the Gordon Square Cultural Arts District (anchored by Cleveland Public Theatre) as well as new residential development in the form of Battery Park.

University Heights City Council was expected to approve the Coral Company's plan for redevelopment of the south side of Cedar Center. Separate from the recent proposal for the north side of the shopping center in South Euclid, the $30 million plan calls for demolition of some portions of the center and construction of 130,000 square feet of retail space and 25,000 square feet of office space.

The possible closing of a street off of East 222nd Street in Euclid has some neighbors and business owners concerned about traffic and access implications.

Sunday's Plain Dealer explored the development of a Cleveland-to-Canada ferry from the point of view of Port Stanley, Ontario and included a summary of recent efforts to restore ferry service.

The Bratenahl Land Conservancy received its first preservation easement thanks to the village mayor's donation of a conservation easement along Ninemile Creek. The Chagrin River Land Conservancy has provided assistance to the Bratenahl group, which shares the goals of open land preservation and the establishment of riparian buffer areas.

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