Plain Dealer publisher Alex Machaskee calls for "intelligent and foresighted community planning" to drive economic vitality throughout the region while eschewing additional community visioning in favor of stakeholder-driven action.
May 2005 Archives
31 May 2005
A sharp increase in campaign donations from oil and gas lobbyists to state legislators preceded the passage of a state law that abolished the right of cities to regulate natural gas wells. Lobbyists and members of the Ohio Senate Republican caucus maintain that there was no quid pro quo while government watchdogs are raising questions and a coalition of citizens and municipalities, including Mayfield Heights, are challenging the law.
Meanwhile, the Independence School District may authorize drilling on its property in hopes of reducing costs and obtaining royalties.
The presence of a Cleveland delegation at the ICSC Spring Convention was one indication of the effort the City is making to bring more retail development into Cleveland. Among the research cited by planners to demonstrate that Cleveland residents are under-served by the market is the recent City of Cleveland Neighborhood Market Drilldown.
30 May 2005
A national conference that will focus on housing issues that affect primarily African-Americans will take place this month in Cleveland. Affordable housing will be one of the topics that the conference will address.
27 May 2005
Bill Callahan addresses the apparent overburdening of Ohio's urban areas through the Ohio Senate's proposed budget cuts and lauds the Plain Dealer for its editorial that sharply criticizes the Senate's plan.
A not-yet-passed provision in the state budget would allow Cuyahoga County commissioners to pass a new food and beverage tax to pay for a new or renovated convention center, if the Ohio Senate is able to pass this addition to the state budget.
The City of Strongsville and its residents disagree over who is responsible for storm sewer problems on private property. Other cities throughout the region face similar difficulties related to aging stormwater infrastructure and flooding.
26 May 2005
Codes and policies throughout the country are increasingly supporting the development of "complete streets" which serve automobile drivers, public transit users, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
25 May 2005
WCPN reports that the Cuyahoga County Commissioners are in negotiations to sell Whiskey Island to the Port Authority. The deal stipulates that the Port will set aside 20 acres of the peninsula to establish Wendy Park and will improve access by expanding a bridge.
Case Western Reserve University's new student residences are being constructed using green-building standards. Case will seek LEED certification for the three buildings that will open this autumn.
(Via Cool Cleveland)
Responding largely to state budget cuts, the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association has formed a regionalism committee that will make recommendations to their communities regarding consolidating services.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Senate is proposing cuts that will hit cities the hardest while sparing largely rural and exurban townships and villages entirely.
(a comparison of the Senate, House, and Governor's budget proposals)
Responding to a need for affordable housing, Cleveland Catholic Charities is in the process of developing nearly 700 units on or near church grounds throughout the region. Other church properties, such as the area around St. Pius X Church in Bedford, are being marketed primarily to the elderly.
Westgate Mall's redevelopment into a 600,000 square foot open-air power shopping center and other local retail development projects are being discussed and brokered at the ICSC Spring Convention.
24 May 2005
A WKYC report (Windows Media Player required) says that Forest City is threatening to pull its convention center plans after the company's site was not selected for a new Cuyahoga County administration building. Meanwhile, Chas Rich discusses the additional convention center expenses that building a subsidized adjoining hotel and buying out the I-X Center lease would entail.
(via Urban Ohio)
Local developers and representatives from the City of Cleveland are again attending the ICSC Spring Convention, an event that brings developers, chain retailers, and public representatives together. Among the goals of the City is the promotion of the East Bank Neighborhood and Steelyard Commons projects, while other large local retail projects are also being pitched to attendees.
The ICSC Cleveland Alliance Program & Reception will be held on Thursday, June 23, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Union Club.
A new downtown neighborhood will be developed on three parking lots off of East 12th St., East 13th St., and St. Clair and Superior Avenues. The City of Cleveland will sell these lots that were formerly owned by Richard Jacobs to Zaremba Inc., which will build 423 condominiums and townhouses, galleries, and neighborhood retail. It appears that the development is intended to complement the adjacent Live/Work District and its artists' community.
Construction of the Warehouse District's Pinnacle Condominiums is being held up by a dispute between the developer and the leaseholder of the parking garage directly beneath the new residences.
23 May 2005
John Kuehner of the Plain Dealer lauds a plan that would dovetail the goals of the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative and the Cuyahoga River RAP through the construction of bulkheads along the Cuyahoga that would support natural habitat and ship navigation.
Opposition to Steelyard Commons and Wal-Mart continues to emerge. Former Old Brooklyn CDC Director and Cleveland City Council candidate Brian Cummins responds to last week's Plain Dealer editorial, raising issues including strategic land use planning, development scale, and long-term vision.
A group of local bloggers has created No Cleveland Walmart, a new collaborative anti-Wal-Mart weblog. Among the current posts is a recording of this morning's WCPN Steelyard Commons call-in show, with guests Chris Ronayne, Joe Cimperman, Dr. Benoy Joseph, and Mitch Schneider.
A British developer continues to refine plans for a 1,000 acre, $1.25 billion resort destination on the site of the Cleveland Quarries in South Amherst, Amherst Township, and Brownhelm Township. The plans include hotels, luxury housing, office towers, high-end retail, a world-class golf course, plus an all-weather beach covered by a glass dome, all to be built between 2006 and 2012.
"Cities around the region must consider ways to incorporate affordable housing," according to a Plain Dealer editorial on the lack of affordable housing in suburban communities.
A Plain Dealer editorial addresses the juvenile court dispute and calls for the judges to agree to the commissioners' plan to move the Juvenile Court complext to East 93rd. Street and Quincy Avenue.
In a Plain Dealer column, Mark Rosentraub, dean of CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs calls into question Cleveland's label of "poorest city" and points to positive developments throughout the community.
Today, the Garfield Heights School Board will discuss plans to construct the district's performing arts center.
Debate over a new convention center includes questions of whether it is necessary to tear down the I-X Center or construct a 600-room hotel attached to the center.
20 May 2005
Continuing their fight, Cuyahoga County's Juvenile Court judges filed a claim with the Ohio Supreme Court in an attempt to keep their facilities from moving to a site at E.93rd Street and Quincy Avenue, saying it is not a "convenient location within the county because it will not allow the Juvenile Court to transact its business in an efficient manner."
Oak River Church hopes to build a church on a 15 acre site on Aurora Road in Solon, but a rezoning from manufacturing to residential would be required. All zoning changes in Solon need voter approval.
Nitrates and phosphorus in discharges from wastewater treatment plants are causing water quality problems in Tinker's Creek. Seven plants may be required to install additional equipment to remove the chemicals.
The City of Berea in considering implementing a citywide inspection and permitting system for rental properties as means of maintaining the quality of its housing stock.
The developer of a medical building in Middleburg Heights has asked to have three parcels at 6900 Pearl Road rezoned from general business or restaurant-amusement and recreational services to office building. Plans to build a three story 36,000 square foot office have been revised to a four story 48,000 square foot building.
Lakewood City Council passed a package of ordinances which will lower, raise, or eliminate various municipal fees. The changes are intended to make the City more attractive to developers and businesses.
Parma Heights officials report that several "high-caliber firms with proven track records" submitted proposals to take over the stalled Cornerstone development.
Because the operators of the Bradley Road C&D Landfill in Old Brooklyn have not prepared their own, Cleveland City Council will hire consultants to put together a closure plan for the landfill.
The City of Cleveland is completing property acquisition needed for the expansion of Roberto Clemente Park, but work will not begin until construction plans for a nearby new K-8 school are finalized.
The delayed Battery Park development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood is on again, and Cleveland City Council approved $2 million in bonds for street and infrastructure work. The project will include 330 townhouses, condominiums, and apartments ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, priced between $160,000 and $450,000. Phase one construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
The U.S. EPA has decided not to permit sewage treatment plants to allow partial treatment of pollutants during heavy precipitation events. The proposed policy would have effectively allowed combined sewer discharges to continue and could have provided a disincentive for municipalities to address long-term water quality issues.
Stephen Manka of the UDC will be creating a sandstone bas-relief art wall along Chagrin Boulevard at Shaker Towne Centre.
The City of Beachwood is purchasing the Huiseman U.S. Army Reserve Center on Harvard Road for $1.2 million, possibly for use by the Service Department. The Army is consolidating its local operations at a center in Twinsburg, but will continue to occupy the 4.6 acre Beachwood location until the new center is completed in three years.
The recent developments concerning Steelyard Commons have attracted support from the Plain Dealer and disdain from others, including Bill Callahan.
In addition, a question has been raised about whether a TIF district is in place for the development, which could divert revenues towards area development and away from the general fund.
18 May 2005
Yesterday, plans were unveiled for a new convention center on the site of the current Cleveland Convention Center. The plans, in competition with a Forest City proposal for a site behind Tower City, include two options. One alternative calls for a new entrance and ballroom to the west of Mall B where the Cuyahoga County Administration Building now stands, and the other proposes extending the center to the north, over the rail lines.
Steelyard Commons is back in the news, as developer Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate Properties announced that Wal-Mart signed a letter of intent to open a 220,000 square foot supercenter in the planned shopping center. The controversial suburban-style development also includes a Home Depot, and Schneider hopes to sign Target, Best Buy, Staples, and a number of chain restaurants.
Cuyahoga County will purchase the former Ameritrust complex at Euclid Avenue and E.9th Street for $22 million, for use as a new county administration building. While the historic rotunda will be preserved, it has not been decided whether the existing tower will be replaced or renovated.
A report (PDF) by the Environmental Integrity Project finds that 62% of municipalities throughout the Great Lakes do not meet federal requirements for sewer maintenance or reporting and that more needs to be done to eliminate the problems caused by combined sewer discharges.
Mayors from across the country have pledged to adopt Kyoto Protocol standards to combat global warming. The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement has over 130 mayors pledging to reduce global warming pollution levels (PDF) to 93% of 1990 levels by 2012. To date, Mayor Longo of Garfield Heights and Mayor Patton of Brooklyn are the two Northeast Ohio signatories.
As Cleveland City Council begins to discuss the proposed Flats East Bank Neighborhood redevelopment, the Greater Cleveland Partnership released a preliminary study which claims the project would produce 600 new jobs and have an economic impact of over $50 million annually.
17 May 2005
Three recent Oberlin College graduates formed Sustainable Community Associates, which soon will break ground on the East Street College Project, a $15 million mixed-use development in downtown Oberlin. The trio is featured in the current edition of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine.
(via CoolTown Studios)
Like last year, Cleveland scored well in the annual Urban Mobility Study. The 2003 figures show that while the amount of time spent in travel delays rose in most cities, Cleveland experienced a slight decrease.
Related calculations by Sperling's Best Places list Cleveland among the least expensive places for driving and in the top ten places for the least percentage of family income spent on gasoline.
At a brownfields hearing yesterday, US Rep. Michael Turner presented his plans to introduce legislation that would provide $1 billion annually in federal tax credits for brownfields cleanup, of which Ohio would receive $40 million.
Ohio's Tax Increment Financing rules are being used in unforeseen ways, as cities and counties put large areas into TIF districts, shifting their tax burden to existing developments. The Ohio House has passed legislation forbidding their use for suburban residential projects and in areawide incentive districts by 2006, but the Ohio Senate has not yet voted on the proposal.
(via Urban Ohio)
A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Ohio legislature to debate proposed changes to wetlands rules, saying, "This radical move to tilt the scales toward private industry deserves far more public debate. The state Senate should strip the wetlands provision from the budget and have that discussion at another time."
16 May 2005
The Plain Dealer examines Scott Wolstein's continued efforts and the public-private partnership that led to today's official announcement of a $230 million mixed-use revitalization plan for the east bank of the Flats.
NOACA awarded $1 million dollars in grants for neighborhood transportation projects (PDF) as part of its Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative. The largest grants of $75,000 went for a study to locate a downtown Painesville transit center, and for a study aimed at increasing transportation options and pedestrian access in University Circle.
(more at EcoCity Cleveland's Transportation Choices Weblog)
The proposed moves of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and Providence Baptist Church are part of a trend, as predominately African-American churches follow their congregation members moving from the City of Cleveland to the suburbs.
A public meeting and presentation to inform as well as gather ideas and opinions will be held on the Brooklyn Master Plan, which is currently being formulated. The meeting will be on Tuesday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Brooklyn Senior/Community Center.
In North Olmsted, some neighbors of the retail/office complex currently under construction at Brookpark Road and Great Northern Boulevard are not pleased with a proposal to shift one of the buildings 60 feet closer to their homes.
While efforts are underway to help families find affordable housing, many municipalities effectively shut out the poor through exclusionary zoning, isolating low-income families in the City of Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs.
13 May 2005
A Free Times article explores a group who choose to get around Cleveland without cars. The Car-Free Cleveland group has organized around the idea that being mobile in Northeast Ohio can easily be done.
The developers of Larchmere Lofts plan to build fourteen townhouses at E. 126th Street and Larchmere Boulevard. The new Larchmere Court development awaits approval by the local design review committee, the Cleveland City Planning Commission, and the Zoning Appeals Board.
A Parma Sun Post article provides more detail on the collaboration study being done that would explore the feasibility of sharing services among five communities in southwest Cuyahoga County The final report will be issued this September.
A new $1 million water park will be constructed by the City of Cleveland at Impet Park in the West Park neighborhood.
A national effort to help low-income familites find affortable housing is being led locally by a consortium consisting of the Legal Aid Society, CMHA, NEOCH, the City of Cleveland, the Office of Homeless Services, and other groups.
12 May 2005
A Plain Dealer feature highlights the City of Cleveland's tree-planting initiative through its Urban Forestry program.
Developer Scott Wolstein is set to unveil a $230 million redevelopment of the East Bank of the Flats. The long-planned 1 million square foot mixed-use development will include 300 housing units and retail space in an area bounded by Main Avenue, West 10th Street, the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks to the north, and the east bank of the Cuyahoga River.
Coal-fired power plants produce a disproportionate amount of pollution per unit of power generated, and FirstEnergy's Eastlake plant is on the list of top 50 polluters (PDF). The Avon Lake power plant also makes the list for high sulfur-dioxide and mercury emissions.
11 May 2005
Yesterday, the US EPA awarded $75.9 million in brownfields grants. Local recipients include the City of Cleveland ($200,000 to conduct site assessments in the Lower Big Creek Valley), Cuyahoga County ($400,000 for the Brownfield Redevelopment Fund and Community Assessment Initiative programs), and the City of Cleveland Heights ($400,000 to clean up former gas stations at the Domain on Lee site).
According to a random survey, there is strong support for some form of regionalism, including merging cities, creating some form of regional government, or even tax-sharing. A presentation of the survey and its findings will be presented on Thursday by Cleveland State University Levin College of Urban Affairs Planning Capstone Studio.
10 May 2005
Prompted by an earlier report describing efforts to reverse the deterioration of East Cleveland's Warner and Swasey Observatory, a group consisting of businessmen and public officials are exploring how the building can be used to stimulate development activity in the suburb.
The Ohio Environmental Council has brought to the surface three provisions in the state budget that may cause harm to the environment. These provisions allow for streamlined filling of wetlands, the possible dumping of toxic material into landfills, and the elimination of local controls over fertilizer and seed.
09 May 2005
A Crain's Cleveland interview with Gary Hribar, head of the Cleveland office of URS, the engineering, design, and archtecture firm, yields his perspective on downtown office vacancies, plans for Cleveland's lakefront, and the work that his firm is doing on the east bank of the Flats.
Michael Gill of the Free Times looks at recent telecom disputes, including efforts in the Ohio legislature to forbid municipalities from offering wireless Internet access and SBC's offensive against OneCleveland.
(via Brewed Fresh Daily)
Hemisphere Development is remediating a 1.2 acre brownfield at E.119th Street and Coltman Road in Little Italy, and plans to build condominiums or townhouses on the site.
A Plain Dealer editorial preaches caution to the Convention Facilities Authority and encourages the CFA to maintain its plans to explore the economic costs and feasibility of constructing a new convention center.
Expansion plans by Progressive Corp. in Mayfield Village may yield new parkland for the community while it continues to develop the infrastructure to support Progressive's facilities.
As municipal recreational facilities multiply throughout the county, communities are exploring the possibility of sharing in the planning and operation of new facilities as perhaps another step towards consolidation of services and even governments.
Presently, Cuyahoga County Commissioners are leaning towards choosing the former Ameritrust Bank site on East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue as the location for the new county administration building, but a decision will not be made until the end of this month, at the earliest.
The Historic Warehouse District will put $500,000 into improving the streetscape with benches, trees, and other amenities, including three new "pocket parks" at major intersections.
Plain Dealer architecture critic Steve Litt praises the new Cleveland Foodbank building and highlights its integration of green-building design, art, and "tastefully poor" architecture emphasizing simplicity in design and operation.
Responding to an increase in invasive species entering the Great Lakes from oceangoing ships, the U.S. Coast Guard is developing a No Ballast on Board policy and is eliciting public input on these new strategies.
06 May 2005
The US Congress scrapped President Bush's proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program, retaining $1.5 billion in funding for American cities.
Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners agreed to a three-way land deal which will permit Judson retirement community to build an 80 acre campus in Bainbridge. In exchange for leasing one acre to Judson, the Metroparks will receive a conservation easement on 9.4 acres of adjacent land and paving of a trail. Judson plans to build 320 units of independent and assisted-living housing.
University Heights City Council unanimously granted approval for the construction of a $4 million building which will house facilities for autistic children at Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau. A September groundbreaking is anticipated, and construction should be completed a year later.
The new Friends of the Big Creek organization continues to meet and plan, and a recent meeting attracted 40 people. The first problem they hope to tackle is hillside erosion in the Big Creek Valley, and their next meeting will be held on May 18.
The Olmsted Historical Society has raised sufficient funds to save the 165 year old Barton Road Congregational Church and move it to the Cleveland Metroparks' Frostville Museum. Another $40,000 is needed to restore the building.
North Olmsted City Council approved a 15,000 square foot expansion of Halleen Kia at Lorain and Porter Roads. To make room for the new construction, a house, the former Rebecca's Floral Shop, and the Stone Medical Building will be demolished. The City's Landmarks Commission has already approved the demolitions of the historic structures, but Planning Commission approval is still needed for a zoning consolidation. Construction is expected to begin in July.
Some City of Lakewood employees are opposed to a set of proposed changes to municipal fees, worried they could lead to layoffs. Union members picketed before a recent City Council meeting.
Independence officials will soon send out an RFP soliciting redevelopment plans for the former middle school property on Brecksville Road. The City hopes for a mixed-use retail, office, and residential development that would compliment a planned revitalization of the downtown retail district. Public meetings may be held this fall.
Oakwood Mayor Gary Gottschalk is promoting the Village as place for business expansion, saying it will add 198,620 square feet of business in 2005, and that he hopes for more in coming years. He also plans continuing streetscape improvements, removal of junkyards, eliminating the intersection of Lincolnville and Broadway Roads, and building a new administration building in 2010.
Because they failed to record the reasons for their decision, a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge sent the Dollar General case back to the Maple Heights Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board had granted a variance for the building in October, but recorded only their 3-0 vote, with no rationale. The developer has re-applied to the Board, which has 60 days to hear the case.
Continuing their exploration, the City of North Royalton wants to determine optimal locations for wind turbines, should they eventually be built.
05 May 2005
A Plain Dealer editorial admonishes SBC for going on the attack against OneCleveland, characterizes their efforts to sway businesses, union, and government support away from the non-profit as based on misinformation and fear. and encourages SBC to work with OneCleveland and its partners.
04 May 2005
A policy brief (PDF) authored by Edward Glaeser as a part of a conference at the Kennedy School of Government's Rappaport Institute suggests that in order to grow, regions and cities in cold climates must focus on education. Glaeser offers five key principles:
- Invest in K-12 education.
- Do not let tax rates skyrocket.
- Safe streets keep cities strong.
- Growth needs housing development.
- Cold cities cannot be complacent.
Work towards planning a new convention center continued yesterday as the Convention Facilities Authority made its pitch for constructing a new center and headquarters hotel and released the executive summary of a consultant's report on the feasibility of a new convention center. In a WKSU report, Bruce Canton of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consultant authoring the study, promotes the smaller facility.
03 May 2005
The latest issue of Hotel Bruce offers several articles on the Glenville neighborhood and how it is using its existing human and physical assets to revitalize itself:
- Mixed Blessings looks at the roles that places of worship have in strengthening, anchoring, and developing a community.
- Welcome to the Coast is an interview with Tracey Kirksey, Executive Director of the Glenville Development Corporation, where she outlines the challenges, successes, and goals of the neighborhood.
- Connecting Green and Rust examines the successes of Germany's Ruhr region in transforming abandoned industrial sites and how they can be done in Cleveland.
- A tour is made of the underutilized East Side Market.
- Nitty Gritty in the City is an interview with Daryl Rush, Cleveland's Community Development Director and a resident of Glenville whose home is described in another Hotel Bruce feature, Garden Living in Glenville.
- Glenville to Greenville offers a transformational vision of the neighborhood and how it could better connect to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens and Lake Erie, and how it could once again become the garden center of the region.
A study commissioned by the Convention Facilities Authority makes the claim that a smaller center is recommended considering declines in the convention business, but still calls for the construction of a new facility as well as an adjoining 600-room hotel.
Chas Rich of NEO Babble comments on this news and questions whether the report would hold up under public scrutiny.
The mixed-use development coming to Lakewood recently mentioned by Mayor George will be a three story building with commercial space and 11 condominiums on the site of a a former used car lot at Detroit and Rosewood Avenues.
While development atrophies elsewhere in the region, the I-271 corridor continues to see new commercial and residential projects.
Cleveland's Empowerment Zone designation has been extended until the end of 2009 following reports that the federal government was set to end the program due to questions of effectiveness.
02 May 2005
A Plain Dealer editorial questions the wisdom of CMHA continuing to pursue the Riverview Tower project in light of continued problems, including recent issues with hillside stability.
The Plain Dealer profiled Ryan McKenzie, EcoCity Cleveland Transportation Program Manager and mass transit, bicyling, and walking advocate who also authors the organization's Transportation Choices Weblog.
Steve Litt of the Plain Dealer reports on developer Robert Stark's plans for revitalizing downtown by bringing more retail and residential space into the Warehouse District. Stark touts his Crocker Park development as an experiment for building at urban densities within the city.
Ohio's slow growth rate may translate to a loss of political clout according to researchers looking at Census data.