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February 2005 Archives

Cleveland City Council is expected to approve the spending of $100,000 to hire experts to raise money to restore League Park, the site of a century-old stadium in the Hough neighborhood that was once the home stadium for the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Buckeyes, and the Cleveland Rams.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steve Litt entreats Cleveland Museum of Art trustees to vote for proceeding with Rafael Viñoly's vision for the planned expansion of the museum.

By neither signing nor vetoing Senate Bill 18, Governor Taft allowed the passage of a measure that strips land-use regulatory authority from counties and townships, thus providing a victory for homebuilders and developers and potentially making sprawl more prevalent.

A recent poll of Northeast Ohio citizens on the regional economic outlook finds that while one-fifth of respondents believe that the region will be in worse economic shape five years from now, a majority believes that collaboration and government consolidation would be effective tools to make the region more competitive. Full results of the survey will be unveiled at today's meeting for the Fund for Our Economic Future.

In addition to building a 123-suite hotel, Executive Caterers ownership plans to build a conference center and gardens at Landerhaven. Mayfield Heights City Council unanimously approved the plans, and a groundbreaking is projected for April, with the hotel opening in summer 2006.

Mayfield Heights leaders and landowners will meet next week in an attempt to reach a settlement in the Shemo case. If the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, the amount of the settlement could eventually be decided by a jury.

The Cities of Lyndhurst, Richmond Heights, and South Euclid have contracted with Brandstetter Carroll Zofcin Inc. to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a shared recreation center. The first community meeting will be held tomorrow at the Richmond Heights Kiwanis Lodge from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

A North Olmsted representative negotiating with RTA about the future of the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line says that it would cost the City $500,000 to get a second three month extension from RTA.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe has announced plans for a casino in Lordstown. They still retain interest in building a casino in Lorain.

The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership has launched a new site, which features an Action Plan, issues and accomplishments, and a timeline and facts for the organization devoted to protecting, restoring, and enhancing Doan Brook.

(via Neighborhood News)

This week's Cool Cleveland examines the reinvention of E.4th Street as an entertainment district and the public-private parternship that made the street's revitalization possible.

Case Western Reserve University and several other collaborators (including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals) will create a new medical research campus on the former site of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center. This new West Quad will combine education, research, and biotech enterprises, as well as the City of Cleveland's heath department.

A new ideastream series, The Region's Resume, explores the assets and trends of Northeast Ohio, and explores what the region needs in order to be economically successful.

Cleveland Institue of Art student Joe Stanley presents his ideas for reconfiguring CIA's campus at neomainstreet.

Downtown business and community leaders are proposing the establishment of a downtown business improvement district, which would cover the area north of the Innerbelt between E.18th Street and W.9th Street. The district, which would be funded by property owners, requires approval from owners of 60% of building frontages to take effect.

Eight Northeast Ohio land trusts will merge to form a conservation organization with a regional outlook. The eights trusts are the Bratenahl Land Conservancy, Chagrin River Land Conservancy, Firelands Land Conservancy, Headwaters Land Conservancy, Hudson Land Conservancy, Medina Summit Land Conservancy, Portage Land Association for Conservation and Education (PLACE), and Tinkers Creek Land Conservancy.

Two years after the opening of Eastlake Ballpark, the City of Eastlake continues to suffer from fiscal crises, and still awaits for state and federal assistance as well as the economic benefits the minor-league ballpark was expected to bring.

The Convention Facilities Authority is asking the City and the County to cede to it the existing convention center and adjacent land respectively in the event that it decides to build a new center on the existing site.

The demolition of half of a shopping center to build housing has already begun in Willowick, which is sees this project as part of a larger plan to revitalize a city with little developable land.

In an effort to gain a variance for Marketplace North from the Bainbridge Board of Zoning Appeals for a lot coverage in excess of the permitted 40%, McGill Property Group has offered to purchase nearby land and donate it to the Township or a land conservancy. The developer is seeking approval for a 49.77% lot coverage for their proposed 585,000 square foot shopping center.

The City of Solon is exploring the possibility of engaging in a land swap at SOM Center and Bainbridge Roads. The City would give the 1.56 acre fire station site on the southwest corner to a retail developer, and in exchange, the developer would create a park on adjacent city-owned property and provide nearby land for a new fire station.

Bentleyville Mayor Michael Canty wants Village Council to reverse its September 14 decision and accept County Engineer Bob Klaiber's offer of a Chagrin River Road Bridge replacement study.

North Royalton's expanded York Road Industrial Parkway landed its first tenant, manufacturer Induction Tooling Inc., who will remain in the City after having outgrown their existing building on York-Theta Drive.

An issue regarding the zoning of a 30 acre site in Westlake may appear on the November ballot. The property on Center Ridge Road, formerly the focus of a lengthy legal struggle with Kmart, would be rezoned from commercial to multi-family residential if voters agree with the City's proposal.

The co-chairs of the Gemini Project Committee say that the success of the issues will permit Fairview Park to weather threatened state and federal funding cuts, and that a new oversight committee will soon be created to serve as a civic watchdog.

Several developers have shown interest in taking over the stalled Cornerstone project in Parma Heights, and the City intends to send out an RFP in about three weeks. It remains unknown what alterations a new developer would make to the existing plans.

Cleveland City Council has introduced legislation that would authorize the City to purchase the former Big Lots on Lake Shore Boulevard, though there is a disagreement with the current owner over the price.

The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission approved a lot split and a conditional use permit necessary for the construction of Domain on Lee, a five story mixed-use development along Lee Road between Tullamore Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard. It will offer first floor retail space below 32 condominiums, plus a 407-space garage.

The City of Beachwood and the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce are objecting to MRI Real Estate Solutions' proposed move from Beachwood to Highland Hills, saying that the company wants to move solely to take advantage of a tax abatement available within the Village's Enterprise Zone.

Cleveland City Council has shelved legislation that would have prohibited the development of hypermarkets (big-box stores with full-service grocery departments) and will instead introduce new legislation that would prohibit Wal-Mart from developing a supercenter at Steelyard Commons until 2013.

The U.S. EPA will decide whether coal-fired power plants in thirteen eastern states (including Ohio) should be held responsible for air pollution in North Carolina, and be forced to reduce emissions accordingly.

The City of Cleveland's new tech czar wants to create a dense downtown technological corridor along Euclid Avenue by bringing in new businesses, which would include luring them from neighboring suburban communities.

Officials in Brunswick and Brunswick Hills differ in their opinions over whether the two governments should merge, but work continues towards a ballot issue this November.

A forum yesterday at Case's REI focused on Doan Brook restoration plans. Four PowerPoint shows from the participating panelists are available online.

The City of Lorain has reached an agreement with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma to build a casino on a downtown site near the Black River. The Tribe has a two year option on land at the former Lorain Pellet Terminal, and can purchase the site for $6 million. The agreement also calls for the City to receive 2% of the casino's revenue. State and federal approval is needed for the plans to go forward, and Governor Taft has opposed casino gambling in the past. The agreement is not expected to affect Cleveland's casino plans.

A report from the Transportation Research Board finds evidence of a relationship between the built environment and physical activity and encourages the development of further studies that would better define how changes in urban design can help people live healthier lives, and would complement existing studies linking urban sprawl to obesity and poor health.

(via Planetizen)

A Brookings Institution study finds that blacks in Cleveland are disproportionately isolated from employment opportunities. Job sprawl, segregated residential patterns, and a lack of access to transportation create a mismatch between urban neighborhoods with affordable housing and suburbs with available jobs. The CPC's Work Access & Transportation Program is part of a strategy to bridge the gap.

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article profiles landscape architect Sara Moore, who is working with Pittsburgh's Riverlife Task Force to promote and create public greenspace along the city's riverfront.

(via Planetizen)

Today's Plain Dealer Community News reports that Maple Heights and North Olmsted city councils have introduced legislation that would give their respective mayors authorization to negotiate with RTA to absorb their municipal bus operations, and that the Port Authority has hired a consultant to plan the location and layout for a Cleveland-to-Canada ferry terminal.

The sale of the Triangle property in University Circle has two Cleveland council members questioning whether the previous owners misled the City into granting the repayment of a loan at a discounted rate.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes news on a workshop for Lakewood that is being facilitated by Downtown Ohio, the postponement of the Battery Park and District Park developments, and an extended commentary on how to revitalize University Circle.

Former APA and ASPO executive director Israel Stollman recently passed away at the age of 81. He also served as a planner in Cleveland, an instructor at Western Reserve University, as planning director in Youngstown, and was the founder of Ohio State University's graduate planning program.

Popular Science magazine created a system to determine the top technology cities in the US for their March issue. Heading the list was Minneapolis, which scored well in transportation and energy technologies. Columbus was ranked seventh, with Cleveland finishing a distant 72nd.

(via Planetizen TechTalk and

Plain Dealer editor Brent Larkin looks at the past three years of the Quiet Crisis, recalls the challenges set forth by the late Richard Shatten, and wonders why the region's leadership has not heeded his prescient advice.

Negotiations over the development of Steelyard Commons continues with both Mayor Campbell and developer Mitchell Schneider hoping for the dissolution of an ordinance that would prevent the creation of hypermarkets in the city. Meanwhile, Bill Callahan provides an overview of the last four months regarding Wal-Mart and Steelyard Commons.

The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are discussing plans to build a new county jail which may include having the county take responsibility for inmates from the city.

The Cities of South Euclid and University Heights expressed a commitment to work together on coordinating the redevelopment of Cedar Center on both sides of Mayfield Road.

American Indian tribes that are attempting to facilitate the development of casino gambling throughout Ohio may have difficulty establishing a foothold in a state where they lack a current presence.

Hunter Morrison lauds the civic-minded work of architect Robert P. Madison and the role that his firm has played throughout Cleveland.

CMHA has arranged for the removal and preservation of WPA-commissioned artwork that decorated the soon-to-be-demolished Valleyview Homes in Tremont.

A Plain Dealer editorial chastises the Village of Chagrin Falls for its handling of recent redevelopment plans.

A Plain Dealer article reviews the increasingly development financing-oriented aspect of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and includes the concerns of critics that it is moving away from its core mission of operating the port itself.

The City of Olmsted Falls will participate in America in Bloom, a nationwide campaign that encourages community beautification, civic involvement, and friendly competition. The City of Berea won their population category when they competed in 2003.

Despite opposition from neighbors of the project, Berea City Council approved a rezoning at Bagley Road and Runn Street by a vote of 4-2. Developer FJR Properties plans to demolish two century homes on the site and build an apartment building.

Revised designs for four new public schools in Lakewood have been popular with residents. The District's design team will continue to refine the plans.

As RTA officials remain firm in their resolve not to further subsidize municipal bus lines in North Olmsted and Maple Heights, Dennis Kucinich continues to advocate for their independence, while former Cleveland planning director Norman Krumholz sides with RTA. A public meeting to discuss the issues was held in North Olmsted yesterday.

At a public meeting last week, developers presented their plans for a residential redevelopment of the Mayfield Road Jewish Community Center in Cleveland Heights. The plans call for construction of 110 condominiums and cluster homes, with half of the site remaining as green space. Demolition of the existing building could begin in July.

A Plain Dealer editorial denounces an ordinance that is being considered by City Council which would effectively prohibit the construction of hypermarkets in the City of Cleveland, saying that approval of the ordinance would effectively quash the development of Steelyard Commons and perhaps other future large-scale developments.

Meanwhile, Bill Callahan provides a different perspective, stating that the ordinance is merely a tool for regulatory review, necessary to preserve neighborhood retail. He also links to the proposed legislation.

Mayors across Northeast Ohio are incensed about Governor Taft's slashing of local funding in his two-year, $51 billion state budget, while urban school districts may see modest gains. The budget also threatens a variety of groups, not the least of which are local governments that were already anticipating cuts to the Local Government Fund and further federal cuts (including elimination of the CDBG program).

The Plain Dealer provides an overview of the battle surrounding Chagrin Falls Village's redevelopment plans, including its private negotiations with Marotta Corp. and a rival development plan from Ronnie Kertesz, and reported on the demolition of historic homes with the intention of facilitating development.

The City Landmarks Commission gave approval to the Cleveland Museum of Art for its proposed expansion. On March 7th, CMA's trustees will vote on whether to proceed with the expansion and break ground this summer.

Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim McCormack will join the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission staff this March.

Prompted by the proposal for a third I-90 interchange in Avon, the First Suburbs Consortium has sent to NOACA, the Board of County Commissioners, and the Mayors and City Managers Association a letter that calls for these officials to limit the construction of freeway interchanges and road projects that encourage the outmigration of jobs and residents.

In order to highlight infrastructure deficiencies, the American Society of Civil Engineers has sent to public officials and news media representatives throughout the country a postcard that features Cleveland's crumbling Rockefeller Avenue bridge.

Roldo Bartimole excoriates Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland for the funding mechanisms used to build Gateway and Cleveland Browns Stadium, and uses that experience to point to what could happen regarding the convention center.

Both issues comprising Fairview Park's Gemini Project were successful in yesterday's election, and were among only a handful of Greater Cleveland school levies that passed.

The LakewoodAlive newsletter reports that the vacant First Church of Christ, Scientist, located across from the Lakewood Public Library, has been purchased by an investment group that wants to redevelop the property for high-end office space.

(via Cool Cleveland)

Two sets of consultants have been hired to help pick the best site for a new convention center. The Convention Facilities Authority hopes to present site and financing strategy recommendations by the end of April.

The mayor of Parma Heights is trying to salvage the long-delayed Cornerstone project by advocating for the replacement of the developer.

Euclid's lakefront development plans continue to grow with yet another proposed expansion of a condominium complex that has more than doubled in scale over the past three years.

In conjunction with the Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation, the City of Cleveland removed four stop lights along Mayfield Road in an effort to ease traffic congestion. Some residents and businesses expressed worries about pedestrian safety, and the LIRC and the City have endeavored to address concerns through improved crosswalks and safety lighting.

Bill Callahan reviews the Bush Administration's proposed elimination of the CDBG program and finds that the Strengthening America's Communities (PDF) program would get nearly one billion dollars less than the CDBG program.

At Summit County's annual State of the County address, Summit County Executive James McCarthy strongly asserted that the State of Ohio has failed Northeast Ohio, evidenced most recently by the state legislature's consideration of deep cuts to the Local Government Fund. McCarthy later told reporters, "Sometimes I think we ought to be a separate state."

First Tee of Cleveland, a group that will build a Par 3, nine-hole golf course, and will conduct ongoing youth programs in Cleveland's Slavic Village, is halfway through a campaign to raise $3 million. The project, which will be sited on Washington Park at the rim of the Industrial Valley, is the result of collaboration between First Tee, the City of Cleveland, and Cleveland Metroparks.

While Cleveland Public School's $1.5 billion school construction project has been mainly successful in remodeling existing schools, only two major jobs can be considered "finished". The Bond Accountability Commission, the independent oversight group monitoring the project, will not meet again until March, and has not acted since November.

Northeast Ohio real estate agents report that the region's housing market is very strong, calling it an economic bright spot. Homes sales last year rose by three percent, although in some exurban areas, new housing construction may be outpacing demand.

Citing rising construction costs, Marous Brothers Construction put their District Park condominium project on hold. The company hopes to begin work on the three building Warehouse District development this summer.

Neighbors of a proposed apartment building at Bagley Road and Runn Street in Berea are gathering signatures for a petition opposing the rezoning.

A 120,000 square foot Target may be the second big box store at the proposed retail development near I-90 and W.117 Street in Cleveland, joining a previously-announced Giant Eagle.

Mayor Jane Campbell says she will work to defeat legislation introduced in Cleveland City Council that would effectively prohibit construction of hypermarkets like Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Abandoned homes remain a problem in Cleveland, as the City has nearly 2,000 condemned or boarded buildings. Councilman Michael Polensek puts much of the blame on predatory lending and resultant foreclosures, and has proposed the establishment of a blight court based on programs in Chicago and Detroit.

Plans for a Walgreens at Shaker Plaza were approved by the Shaker Heights Planning Commission, by a vote of 4-1, with Mayor Judy Rawson dissenting. The plans include a drive-through pharmacy, and the drugstore would be built in place of stores currently occupied by Sky Bank and Draeger's ice cream parlor. City Council is expected to make a final decision on February 28.

The Beachwood Planning Commission extended a construction deadline for the partially-built Waxman Chabad House synagogue on Green Road, from February 11 to December 31. Construction was begun in August 2003, and synagogue leaders promise to complete the building by October.

The US EPA Inspector General found that rules for cutting mercury contamination from coal-fired power plants did not fully consider the impact on children's health and would result in increased mercury contamination of fish and drinking water throughout the country and especially in Northeast Ohio.

Despite objections from the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, the City of Cleveland apparently still plans to begin the restoration of Doan Brook late this summer.

The Project for Public Spaces identified Cleveland's Public Square as one of five parks in need of a turnaround, saying that the wide roads dividing the square into quadrants squander its prime location. They suggest narrowing the intersections, slowing traffic, and improving connections with nearby assets in order to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

County and township officials from around Ohio as well as anti-sprawl groups continue to petition Governor Taft to veto a bill that would strip zoning authority from counties and townships.

EcoCity's Transportation Choices Weblog reports on NOACA's new policy to implement traffic signal improvements throughout the region, beginning with Lakewood. Signal priority would be given to emergency and transit vehicles.

In a letter to the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell reviewed the accomplishments of 2004 and outlined her priorities for 2005, including work on bringing casino gambling to the city, upgrading convention center facilities, and facilitating neighborhood development.

Fairview Park's proposed Gemini Project, if built, would likely displace a mobile-home park located behind Fairview High School. Negotiations between the city and the owner are currently underway, but the city has indicated that it may use eminent domain if a settlement isn't reached.

While Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek is against the redevelopment of a vacant industrial building to include a vermicomposting facility, Great Lakes Brewing Company is using this technique as part of a model to reduce waste and derive maximum value from its business while working with other local businesses to create new products.

Meanwhile, in another effort to meet the demand for organic, locally-produced goods, the Northeast Ohio Foodshed Network is assisting local farmers markets and small-scale farmers to bring their products to a broad range of consumers.

(via Entreprenuers for Sustainability)

The January/February issue of North Coast Newsletter (PDF), the newsletter of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, includes articles on ODOT's storm water management plan and the announcement that the Commission will entertain grant requests for projects that will implement actions in the Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Plan.

No longer satisfied with its site in Bedford Heights, Metaldyne Corp. is contemplating a move to Solon and will request a 15-year property tax abatement on all equipment and inventory.

Amidst the ongoing ongoing battles precipitated by the proposed development of land by Providence Baptist Church, the City of Euclid's zoning laws are being investigated by the Justice Department in order to determine whether the laws are discriminatory against churches through the violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Continuing her efforts to bring casino gambling to Cleveland, Mayor Campbell has met with represenatives of two tribes that are interested in building casinos in Cleveland.

The February edition of News from Cleveland Memory includes a link to a press release from the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation outlining their objections to the City of Cleveland's Doan Brook restoration plans, as well as a link to a list of digitized books on Cleveland from the Kelvin Smith library at Case.

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