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April 2005 Archives

The Solon Herald Sun reviews the controversies surrounding McGill Property Group's proposal of a land swap and an office/retail development at SOM Center and Bainbridge Roads.

Since Renaissance Park developers asked for tax increment financing from the City of Strongsville in December, the proposed retail development has been stalled because of financial and legal questions.

Berea officials are again considering a lot behind City Hall for construction a new courthouse, after negotiations for a land swap at a second site fell through. The City Hall site was initially abandoned after a soil survey discovered old foundry sand and ash 55 feet deep, which would add $2 million to construction costs.

Funded by a Cleveland Foundation grant, five southwest Cuyahoga County communities and Columbia Township have formed the Elder Friendly Communities Initiative, which "will identify the physical, social and institutional elements that older adults need to lead full and productive lives in their community."

Phase one bids for improvements to Lakewood Park should go out within a month. Construction of a ramp and trail is expected to start in July and take three to four months to complete. Plans for a beach have been put on hold, though if funds are available, a pedestrian promenade may be built.

Following the opening of Bay Village/Avon Lake Park on Walker Road, some nearby residents are concerned about potential safety and privacy issues.

As a result of successful lobbying efforts by local officials, noise barriers will be erected along a stretch of I-71 in Cleveland. The $5 million project will be built from about W.150th Street to Bellaire Road on the north side and from W.150th Street to Memphis Avenue on the south. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2006 and be completed by July 2007.

Mayfield Heights City Council approved zoning variances that will allow Hillcrest Hospital to expand and permit the Boneyard restaurant to move into the former Mayland Theater.

Builder Brad Remington has offered a third development proposal for a site on West Orange Street owned by the Village of Chagrin Falls. Preliminary designs call for a seven building mixed-use residential and retail project. Previous proposals have been presented by Marotta Corporation and Ronnie Kertesz.

John Kuehner of the Plain Dealer reports on the closing of the Royalton Road Landfill and this Saturday's sneak peek of the new park on Whiskey Island.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission has temporarily blocked the demolition of Euclid Beach's Humphrey Mansion, citing an incomplete application from the owners.

The area's first coordinated transportation system specifically for seniors, the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County, will be officially launched at its first board meeting, to be followed by a reception. It will be held on Wedneday, May 4 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Bolton Theater of the Cleveland Playhouse. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Toya Patton by April 27.

Following last year's failing grades, the American Lung Association's State of the Air report again characterized Greater Cleveland's air quality as extremely poor, based on continuing high levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

A Common Pleas judge temporarily prevented County Juvenile Judges from forcing County Commissioners to hand over $67,000 so that the judges can hire consultants to conduct a new search for the juvenile justice complex slated to be built on East 93rd Street and Quincy Avenue.

Cleveland Metroparks and Judson, which provides continuing-care residential services, are considering a land-swap in Bainbridge Township that would allow Judson to construct a new campus on Chagrin Road while moving an existing Metroparks trail.

The Convention Facilities Authority is exploring the possibility of creating a downtown "travel and tourism district" which would raise revenue to cover bonds for the construction of a new center. This district would be similar to the already-proposed business improvement district.

Key Tower, the tallest building in Cleveland and Ohio, is being sold by Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc.

Today's community news briefs reports that the Cuyahoga County Public Library system will offer wifi access at most of its branches by the end of the summer.

William Henry, civil engineer and former director of the Regional Planning Commission (the precursor to the County Planning Commission), passed away on April 10th at the age of 96.

A geotechnical study revealed that much of the site of the former Riverview Estates in Ohio City is unstable terrain. The area is targeted for a mixed market-rate and public housing redevelopment led by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. Aspects of the project will be delayed as CMHA seeks to expand the project beyond its original site.

The Plain Dealer continues its exploration of casino gambling with a look at policies and proposals in the states surrounding Ohio.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer continues to advocate for a new Inner Belt bridge, saying that an inspired design could symbolize Cleveland's vision for its future and could catalyze downtown development.

An Akron Beacon-Journal article focuses on Greater Ohio's efforts to curb urban sprawl and preserve rural farmland by influencing state policy and possibly informing the 2006 gubernatorial race.

Researchers will begin a two-year project to study Lake Erie's Central Basin, spanning from Huron, OH to Erie, PA. The International Field Year on Lake Erie will focus on the lake's food chain which has been under stress from increasing levels of phosphorous, which is in part responsible for the Lake Erie Dead Zone.

The May 3rd ballot will include a number of property tax renewals and increases to maintain or build new libraries, recreation centers, and safety services.

The Asian community in Cleveland, centered in the Goodrich-Kirtland Park neighborhood, is increasingly influencing new development and streetscapes in the near-east neighborhood through the application of feng shui principles.

A spring cleanup of Cleveland neighborhood parks may augur improvements to a field beside the Lonnie Burten Recreational Center, such as a learning garden or a peace park.

The Chagrin Herald Sun reviews the legal and environmental issues being considered by the Ohio Supreme Court in the zoning lawsuit against the Village of Moreland Hills by Jaylin Investments.

Brook Park City Council unanimously denied a rezoning request for The Lamp, a former nursing facility on Engle Road. The director of Education Alternatives, a school for children with emotional and behavioral problems, had hoped to move to the building from a storefront on Sheldon Road.

Lakewood officials are discussing changing fees charged to developers in an effort to make the City more attractive to businesses.

In his State of the City speech, Lakewood Mayor Tom George mentioned that a second mixed-use development would be coming to Detroit Avenue, but would not provide details, saying an official announcement would be coming soon.

Fairview Park City Council passed a resolution announcing their intent to purchase land occupied by a trailer park, which is needed for construction of a new recreation center, a part of the Gemini Project. If negotiations are not successful, the City may consider using eminent domain.

Rumors continue to circulate about the future of Westgate Mall. Some speculate that an official announcement of a redevelopment project may be made in less than a month, amid reports that merchants have been asked to vacate the mall by the end of April.

The City of Cleveland plans to purchase the abandoned Memphis School in Old Brooklyn from its current owner, and intends to demolish the building and replace it with a soccer field and walking path, although some hope the Cleveland Municipal School District might build a new school at the site.

Cleveland City Council rezoned a 20 acre site near I-90 and W.117 Street, where a big box retail development is planned, from semi-industry and single family to general retail and general industry. The project includes a Giant Eagle and possibly a Target, and is tentatively set to open in October 2006.

Progressive Urban Real Estate is preparing designs for a condominium development on Brayton Avenue in Tremont. Units in the five-unit three-story contemporary-styled building would be priced around $139,000.

The current Bruce Blog covers a plethora of topics, including the soon-to-be-announced City of Cleveland Sustainability Coordinator, promising developments for Dike 14, a possible legal battle over the fate of Euclid Beach's Humphrey Mansion, new housing in Glenville, and an upcoming design competition that will look at how the relocation of the Inner Belt bridge could improve downtown land uses.

Several issues have delayed redevelopment plans for the Shaker Towne Center area of Shaker Heights, but work continues on the commercial and residential project. The new cut-through street, originally scheduled to open this spring, will instead open by mid-summer. Phase one construction of the Lofts at Kensington Station, the residential portion of the development, has been pushed back to this fall.

Cleveland Heights City Council approved plans for 71 condominiums and 39 cluster homes in a planned development overlay on the site of the Mayfield Road Jewish Community Center. The JCC will vacate the building by the end of July, making way for the city's largest residential project to date.

This month's CSU's Levin College Urban Update (PDF) highlights the school's involvement in developing a set of regional economic indicators.

Plain Dealer columnist Michael Heaton relates complaints of aggressive panhandling, downtown nightlife and the eviction of artists from the live/work district and calls for new community leadership.

County Commissioners have rejected a request from the Juvenile Court judges to spend $67,000 to conduct a downtown site search for the juvenile justice complex which is already slated for construction on East 93rd Street and Quincy Avenue.

The Indian community will create a new, hindu-inspired cultural garden on Martin Luther King Boulevard, next to the Finnish Cultural Garden. Groundbreaking on the park, whose construction must be coordinated with the restoration of Doan Brook is scheduled for May 22nd.

Plain Dealer Associate Editor Joe Frolik characterizes OneCleveland as integral to building Cleveland's high-tech infrastructure and sees the City's successful attraction of interest from Intel as one of the many regional transformations that are about to occur. WVIZ will focus on OneCleveland on tonight's Ideas program.

Recent Census figures show not only population stagnation in Northeast Ohio, but also throughout the state as a whole, leading an Akron Beacon Journal columnist to ask, "What are we doing wrong?"

Cleveland and Philadelphia have opted for "ephemeral" strategies: the usual assortment of convention centers, museums, arts festivals, and central city lofts. But what have the results been? Cleveland's widely praised attempt to become hip has not prevented the city from entering the twenty-first century with the highest percentage of people living in poverty of any large American city. Its population and job base continue to decline almost inexorably.

A commentary by Joel Kotkin on MetropolisMag.com criticizes cities such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Detroit for focusing on developing amenities catering to the mobile rich and the young, and argues that these places should instead concentrate on developing "clean and workable neighborhoods, thriving business districts, and functioning schools."

(Via Planetizen)

A coalition has formed that is fighting a proposed state constitutional amendment to permanently cap state spending. Opponents point to Colorado's TABOR amendment that was enacted a decade ago and is now being opposed by those who supported it in the first place.

Frustrated by ODNR's control over regulating petroleum or gas wells, the City of Mayfield Heights and a coalition of residents are fighting to have the law overturned.

Lake Erie Coastal Ohio has succeeded in persuading the state to dedicate the Lake Erie Coastal Trail, Ohio's 21st scenic byway. Dedication of the 293 mile trail will be this Friday.

Energy generation and efficiency is the focus of a conference to be held at Case this June.

Rising interest rates have decreased the rate of new home construction but it may provide a boost to Northeast Ohio's manufacturing sector according to the chief economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Today's community news briefs include RTA's "Pass the Pump" promotion this Friday to increase transit use and a public meeting this evening focused on developing the Big Creek trail and improving the tributary.

Jeanne Shatten and Bruce Katz have announced the inauguration of an annual student competition on economic development and regional issues affecting Greater Cleveland. This first competition will focus on the Cleveland Lakefront Plan and whether the public investment on the reconstruction of the West Shoreway will yield benefits that outweigh the costs of construction and other factors.

The Richard Shatten Prize honors the late director of Cleveland Tomorrow and Case professor whose work continues to enrich the region.

A Plain Dealer editorial lauds the goals of "Heading Home", a collaborative effort to draft a comprehensive plan to combat homelessness through long-term prevention, providing a wide array of services, and increasing low-income housing options.

Despite uncertainty over the future of the Empowerment Zone program, projects intended to revitalize business activity in the Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, and Midtown neighborhoods continue.

East Ninth Street will be extended farther north towards the lake to create 90 parking spaces and better access to North Coast Harbor.

Legislation will be introduced to the Ohio Senate intended to transfer coastal submerged-land property ownership and development rights from the public to private owners while allowing the public to use the water. Lakefront property owners have long argued that their leases include land up to the low water line, while ODNR has maintained that the high-water line marks the extent of private ownership and control.

Changes in our built environment and population shifts inspired poet and professor George Bilgere to offer a poignant audio commentary on the loss of the sense of community.

The capstone class for students in the Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development Program at Cleveland State explored Northeast Ohio and Regional Governance. On May 12, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., they will present their final project, "Sacred Cow or Sacred Bull? A look at Regionalism in Northeast Ohio," in the atrium of the Levin College of Urban Affairs. Free registration is available online.

The Atlantic Monthly commissioned (subscription required) French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy to retrace Alexis de Tocqueville's journey across the United States. Scott Suttell of Crain's Cleveland Business relays Lévy's comments about Cleveland.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

The 83-year-old Public Auditorium faces an uncertain future amisdst possible plans to renovate the convention center on its existing site.

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judges want to spend $67,000 to conduct a site search for a new downtown juvenile justice complex while trying to block the move to the already purchased and vetted site on East 93rd Street and Quincy Avenue.

Erickson Retirement Communities is buying an 80 acre site south of Harvard Road in Orange for a reported $14 million, where the company plans to build an upscale senior living community with 1,100 independent and 200 assisted/skilled retirement units. A rezoning to a classification that would permit the developer's desired density will likely appear on the November ballot.

In addition to the CVS drugstore approved for the corner of Pearl and Royalton Roads in Strongsville, Walgreens has expressed an interest in a site at the corner of Westwood and Pearl Roads currently occupied by the historic Strong House.

Residents age 55 and older in Bedford, Oakwood, and Glenwillow will soon receive surveys asking about their thoughts, opinions, and requirements. The results will be analyzed by a task force which will then create a 5-10 year plan to address seniors' needs.

Approximately 70 acres near Cook Road in North Ridgeville may become a municipal park, as City Council voted to spend $25,000 from the City's park fund to purchase a former fly ash pit from The Illuminating Company.

The Avon Historical Society is heading an effort to have Detroit Road named an Ohio Scenic Byway. The group hopes that adding the designation to a stretch between Rocky River and Sheffield will help preserve Avon's small town charm.

The Lakewood Department of Planning and Development is requesting funds for an economic feasibility study of the Hilliard Theater. The Department views the theater as a potential economic catalyst, and wants to study the building's condition, review existing and proposed uses, create concept plans for its site and interior, and obtain a cost estimate.

Three Bay Village City Council members sent a letter to the owner of Bradley Bay Health Center, urging him to drop his nursing home expansion plans "for the good of the community".

The City of Seven Hills is considering making permanent a moratorium on new automotive service businesses in the Broadview Road and Rockside Road development districts. The issue may appear on the August or November ballot.

The City of Parma Heights has officially launched their search for a replacement developer for the partially constructed Cornerstone project by sending notices to over 100 local developers. Bids are due by May 2, and Mayor Zanotti hopes to name a new developer by the end of May.

Construction of 68 single story cluster homes near St. Pius X Church in Bedford may begin late this summer. Developer Thomas Holdings has pledged to preserve as much green space as possible, and expects to bring the project before the Planning Commission in May.

In addition to his plans for the Ski Haus property, Chagrin Falls developer Ronnie Kertesz has submitted a mixed-use proposal for the Village-owned land on West Orange Street, the site of Marotta Corporation's controversial proposed development.

Managers of Fairview Park's Gemini Project have released a construction timeline, which calls for the demolition of Gilles-Sweet Elementary School to begin on August 1, with a replacement finished in 2007, and for recreation center construction to start in August 2006. Negotiations continue for the purchase of land currently occupied by a mobile home park.

The latest County Population Estimates from the US Census Bureau show a continuation of recent trends, as Cuyahoga County lost nearly 43,000 residents between April 2000 and July 2004, while Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit Counties reported population growth. Medina County's 9.3% increase was the fourth largest in Ohio. Greater Cleveland recorded a drop of about 3,400 people, reducing population to 1980 levels.

GORP.com features the Cuyahoga Valley National Park as one of their top ten parks for spring, calling it "a region of transformation, both seasonal and historic. Cuyahoga speaks to a greener future, where industry respects nature."

(via Gadling)

This summer, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin work on restoring approximately one mile of the West Creek. The effort is intended to reduce erosion, replace lost natural features, improve water quality, and attract aquatic life. It will be funded by the savings from a low-interest loan from the Ohio EPA for the Big Creek Interceptor Rehabilitation.

This month's Cleveland Magazine (free registration required) includes an examination of Cleveland's efforts to attract international immigration and investment, and profiles six immigrant entrepreneurs.

(via Cool Cleveland)

A letter to the editor regarding casino gambling maintains that Cleveland should focus on three key issues: reinvigorating downtown, addressing poverty, and improving the region's image, rather than pursue legalized gambling.

The Convention Facilities Authority is putting together a plan for paying down the debt on a potential new convention center. Financing options include raising the hotel bed tax and imposing a food and beverage tax on restaurant meals.

In a move that may quash merger efforts, Brunswick Hills Township has filed lawsuits against the Cities of Brunswick and Cleveland as well as Medina County and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro. One lawsuit seeks to block a contract that would allow Brunswick to require township residents and businesses to annex to the city if they want water service. Water service is provided by the City of Cleveland, which has been more active in using this utility to shape regional development patterns.

Harvey Pekar shares his thoughts on regionalism, concluding, "If Cleveland-area politicians are so bankrupt for ideas that betting the future on casinos seems like a panacea to them, we should all be thinking about a regionalist solution. The alternative is the City of Cleveland sinking into more debt and chaos, to the point where it will provide little or no support for even its currently affluent suburbs."

An invitation-only workshop is being held today, where representatives of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Advanced Hydro Solutions will review the permitting process for restarting electricity generation at the Gorge Park Dam. Last month, the federal agency granted the company a preliminary permit to study the feasibility for hydroelectric generation at the Cuyahoga River dam between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls. Local governments and environmental groups, including the Ohio EPA, Summit County Metroparks, Friends of the Crooked River, and the Ohio Environmental Council are opposed to the project.

Downtown property owners continue to advocate for the creation of a business improvement district by lobbying city council and fellow property owners, adding specifics to their proposal, and developing a proposed budget.

Fosters Run, a creek that had been replaced by a sewer over sixty years ago, will be daylighted later this year. Funding from Mayfield Village, Cleveland Metroparks, and the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund will pay for the stream's restoration, which in turn will help to alleviate flooding problems in Mayfield and Gates Mills.

Some of the buildings within the City of Cleveland's Live/Work District along Superior Avenue east of downtown fail to meet the code for both residential and industrial buildings, resulting in the eviction of several tenants. The City remains committed to the district, but would like to see a change in the Ohio building code that would account for a new live/work building designation.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the City of Cleveland's deal with Richfield Township and the Village of Richfield to create a joint economic development district by conditioning the provision of water to new industrial and office development to the sharing of income tax revenue with the City.

In light of Cleveland's recent interest in legalizing casino gambling, Detroit's six-year experience with its three casinos shows that it does not provide the solution for all of that city's economic woes, nor does it appear to help turn the tide of outmigration.

Sunday's Plain Dealer focused on the economic impacts of Wal-Mart in light of the retailer's recent decision to pull out of the Steelyard Commons development as well as its possible entry into the South Collinwood or Euclid-Green neighborhoods.

While Cleveland Metroparks is still considering building two cable-stayed bridges for the Towpath Trail, projected costs continue to rise, putting the project in jeopardy.

Strongsville officials are planning renovations of the city's historic Old Town Hall, made possible by an expected $100,000 state grant.

Seven Hills City Council recently passed several planning-related bills that together are intended to help stimulate the development of a town center.

Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman has introduced legislation that would officially establish Jim Mahon Park, a small greenspace currently known as Dogbone Park. The legislation would also create a zoning category for parks.

The City of North Olmsted and Ganley Volkswagen have reached a settlement, ending the car dealer's lawsuit over their rejected expansion plans. In exchange for permission to build their expansion, Ganley has agreed to install increased buffering intended to shield nearby residents. The agreement does not call for any of the property to be rezoned.

This week's Hotel Bruce calls attention to an April 12th public meeting about a proposed hydroelectric dam at Gorge Park on the Cuyahoga River in Summit County, the zoning battle in Moreland Hills, and other noteworthy news items and events affecting Northeast Ohio.

Ohio Statehouse leaders refuse to provide relief to cities that will bear the burden of the state's cuts to the local government fund and instead will pay for consolidation studies between municipalities.

Representatives from Intel Corp. met with Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell to propose making the city a participant in its Digital Cities Initiative. Citing work already done by OneCleveland to increase broadband access throughout Northeast Ohio, the Intel representatives outlined a vision for creating a "wireless cloud" that would be used primarily by the city, but may eventually be used by the broader community.

The City of Cleveland has named Brooke Furio of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to become the city's land revitalization manager, responsible for creating a land-bank program that would assemble and clean up vacant, brownfield, and underutilized sites for redevelopment.

The West Third Street and Eagle Avenue bridges will be demolished due to debris falling from both of these structures, which are not alone among bridges in Northeast Ohio that have become neglected. Neither of these structures were projected by the Eagle Avenue Viaduct Study to be used in the future for access to the Flats.

Roldo Bartimole continues to decry the repeated infusions of public funds into the Gateway complex and a lack of transparency from the Convention Facilities Authority.

Later this year, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin work on its 30 year, $1.6 billion sewer construction project. The 103 miles of new tunnels and sewers will greatly reduce combined sewer overflows and improve local water quality.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is considering purchasing one or more Warehouse District parking lots in an effort to drive down parking rates, with a goal of making parking lots less profitable and landowners more amenable to redevelopment plans.

Michael Gill of the Free Times explores the as-yet unsuccessful efforts to create a hostel in downtown Cleveland, and offers Chicago's accomplishments as a positive example.

The Windermere United Methodist Church in East Cleveland announced plans to build a medical office building on Euclid Avenue, near the Windermere rapid station and the main library. The $3.6 million building would house a dialysis center and doctors' offices.

Applicants are invited to request grants from the City of Cleveland's Cityworks fund, which can be used for projects that improve or strengthen neighborhoods.

The City of Avon Lake may have to compensate the Ohio EPA for paving over wetlands during the construction of the Buckeye Trail.

The City of Berea will enter into negotiations to purchase land for its rail grade separation project along Front Street.

Middleburg Heights will convene "Middleburg Heights 2015", a city-wide conference intended to chart community investment priorities.

Residents of an Olmsted Township development will proceed with their lawsuit against Ryan Homes, charging that the developer is not adequately compensating the Westfield Park homeowners for sewer assessments recently levied by the county.

After years of being plagued by traffic noise from I-71, Strongsville city officials are awaiting the undertaking of a state study that could provide solutions to the problem.

North Royalton City Council's Utilities Committee is exploring the possibility of attracting wind turbines to the municipality.

The Broadview Heights service director attributes the city's flooding problems to unusually heavy precipitation, badly sited homes, and overcontruction while also claiming that the budget will not allow for the $2 million to $3 million needed for storm sewer projects.

Scene Magazine looks skeptically at attendance figures that indicate that the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was the third most visited national park last year.

Statehouse representatives have killed a plan that would have instituted parking fees for state parks. Legislators have not yet figured out how to make up for the budget shortfalls that would have been met by the new fees.

Cuts to the budgets of OEPA and ODNR may be made up by a hike in landfill tipping fees, which could have the effect of diverting more locally-generated waste to out-of-state landfills. The Solid Waste District also stresses increased recycling as a way for municipalities to keep their disposal costs low.

Methods used by the City of Cleveland's tech czar to bring businesses downtown have been met with skepticism from some and anger from others, especially representatives of neighboring communities from which some of these businesses have moved.

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