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June 2005 Archives

Recent census data shows that not only has the City of Cleveland dipped to its lowest population since 1900, but that communities throughout Cuyahoga County are losing population, while other municipalities, particularly townships in neighboring counties, are continuing to gain population.

A Plain Dealer editorial exhorts the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the Port Authority to end their political bickering over Whiskey Island, beginning with developing a unified plan to rebuild an access bridge to the park.

A study conducted for the Coalition for Ohio's Future reports that a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment to cap state spending would lead to the loss of millions of dollars in services for Cuyahoga County residents.

At last night's public meeting about the former Coast Guard station at Whiskey Island, participants provided ideas for potential reuses of the building, which included an interpretive history center, a youth hostel, a multiple-use structure, and an alternative energy showcase. Cleveland planners will hold follow up meetings in six to eight weeks.

The City of Cleveland's Zero Blight Initiative (PDF) is attracting the attention of the development community as it begins work on actively brokering vacant properties for industrial development.

A Plain Dealer editorial comments on the recent Supreme Court ruling favoring the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. Additional local reactions to the decision come from Lakewood Life, NEO Babble, and Crain's Cleveland Business.

A special report in the Plain Dealer celebrates the 75th anniversary of Terminal Tower, which, when completed, was the second tallest building in the world. To commemorate the anniversary, several events will be taking place that focus on the Tower's history.

The new owners of BP Tower have indicated that they are considering selling the naming rights to the building that has not housed BP America for several years.

Ed Morrison has left his position as executive director of Case's Center for Regional Economic Issues. The University has not decided if the position will be filled.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer encourages the development of The Avenue District on the eastern boundary of Downtown Cleveland, stating that the project would complement existing downtown residential development and that it could help form a downtown constituency that would advocate for parks and green space.

The financing of a new convention center would probably not include a half-percent sales tax which Cuyahoga County commissioners could add contingent on the rollback in the state budget of one half-percent of the current state sales tax.

As part of Cleveland's Lakefront Plan, a public meeting will be held tonight to discuss the future of the abandoned Coast Guard station connected to Whiskey Island. The art deco-style station, which could be restored as an interpretive center for maritime history and nature, was purchased by the City over a year ago for $1.

In the wake of increased residential foreclosures, County Treasurer Jim Rokakis has advocated for a state law where banks would provide low-interest loans to senior citizens to pay property taxes in order to allow residents to remain in their homes for the duration of their lives or until they choose to sell their property.

The Port Authority's purchase of Whiskey Island could still be derailed by disagreement over the repair of a bridge which would provide access to Wendy Park, as required by deed restrictions.

Bill Callahan takes a deeper look at the "New Markets Tax Credit" financing for Steelyard Commons and inquires about the apparent lack of public oversight over the program set up by the Port Authority.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board approved an offer of $6.25 million for the purchase of 65 acres of Whiskey Island from Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County Commissioners have yet to accept the deal. The Port Authority plans to expand their bulk shipping operations into the area currently occupied by the marina and transfer the eastern 20 acres to the City of Cleveland for use as a public park. However, they also say the City would be obligated to upgrade a bridge over the railroad tracks to the west to maintain public access to the park.

The Free Times accepted EcoCity Cleveland's challenge and rated Greater Cleveland neighborhoods and suburbs by factors including accessibility, diversity, density, and amenities. Their top five were Lakewood, Ohio City, Cleveland Heights, Tremont, and Shaker Heights.

Fifth Third Bank will submit plans for a 4,116 square foot branch at the west end of Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, for a site where a hotel was proposed last year.

The City of Cleveland will likely acquire the recently-cleared former Midland Steel site at W.106th Street and Madison Avenue. The property would become part of the City's industrial development strategy, entering its industrial land bank. The necessary amount of environmental remediation remaining is unknown.

On Tuesday, the historic Barton Road Church was moved from North Olmsted to the Frostville Museum in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation. Building renovations could take several years, and funds must be raised to complete the work.

Berea officials will solicit bids for construction of a new courthouse, although the funding is not completely in place. The cities of Berea, Brook Park, Olmsted Falls, and Strongsville will contribute funds, but Middleburg Heights has yet to decide.

More people are becoming concerned with the lack of local oversight regarding natural gas wells, this time due to drilling problems in Broadview Heights.

Independence officials report that initial responses to the City's downtown redevelopment RFP have been strong. At least 30 companies have expressed an interest in working on the project. Responses were due on Monday, and the deadline for final proposals is September 23.

Garfield Heights Mayor Thomas Longo is not pleased with the lack of response from the State in preparing for the traffic influx that will be brought by the City View Center and Bridgeview Crossing developments. He says the I-480 interchange at Transportation Boulevard needs to be redesigned.

The Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office will conduct a Chagrin River Road Bridge replacement study, after receiving advice from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor that consent was not needed from the Village of Bentleyville. The Village had previously declined the study, but the County Engineer has a legal obligation to repair or replace bridges if it is in the public's best interest.

Cleveland Heights's plan to require recipients of federal housing choice vouchers (previously referred to as "Section 8") who move into the City to attend a suburban-life orientation class has been commented upon by Regina Brett of the Plain Dealer, who then received numerous strong responses from both advocates and opponents of the program.

Meanwhile, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones mediated a meeting between CMHA officials and suburban community representatives behind closed doors to discuss the increase of subsidized renters in suburbs. A Plain Dealer editorial criticizes meeting participants and the etiquette class proposal and calls for the opening of a public conversation on the subject.

OfficeMax, currently headquartered in Shaker Heights and a Chicago suburb, is planning to consolidate its headquarters, with Team NEO leading the collaborative effort between Shaker Heights and Cleveland to advocate either for an expansion of its existing site or a relocation to Downtown Cleveland.

EcoCity Cleveland has launched a new website that is described as a "web portal of eco-news and sustainability." GreenCityBlueLake describes and advocates for sustainability within the context of Northeast Ohio, and includes a network map illustrating the links between entities and projects that are organized around sustainability.

At a public meeting last week, South Russell residents urged the Village to maintain Muggleton Farm as open space, and to not sell a portion of it. A second public meeting will be held in August.

The Geauga County Auditor's Office reports that residential property values in the county rose close to 12½ percent over the last three years, with the largest increases occurring in exurban areas like Hambden, Huntsburg, and Montville townships.

Yesterday in a 5-4 vote (PDF), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. Local repercussions of the ruling may be felt in South Euclid, Mayfield Village, and Cleveland.

Residential foreclosures continue to rise throughout the state according to a Policy Matters Ohio report. From 2001 to 2002, the annual number of foreclosures in Cuyahoga County rose by 40%, and now has the second highest foreclosure rate in the state.

The Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik reviews the economic and social challenges of attracting immigrants to Cleveland. The Full Cleveland weblog replies, saying that if the region can create the demand for additional labor, "problems like immigration and many of the other Quiet Crisis symptoms will remedy themselves."

Sharon Machlis Gartenberg of Planning Livable Communities recently paid a visit to Cleveland's downtown waterfront, and found it wanting. She suggests that the waterfront would be improved by including higher-density mixed-use development along the publicly-accessible waterfront and that "careful landscaping and placement of buildings [would] turn a big open urban space into an attractive on-foot environment."

Lorain County Metroparks' new 10-year plan calls for new parks, hiking and biking trails, and other facilities. Officials anticipate asking the public to vote for a levy increase to cover costs.

Casino advocates may wait until 2006 for a ballot issue which may differ from the currently-proposed campaign that could allow up to 50 communities to permit local casinos.

On Friday, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will convene a special board meeting for the purpose of authorizing and approving the purchase of Whiskey Island from Cuyahoga County. It will be held on the 22nd floor of One Cleveland Center on E.9th Street.

The dedication of Wendy Park at Whiskey Island is scheduled for Saturday.

On August 13 from noon to 9:30 p.m., EcoCity Cleveland will present the 2005 Burning River Fest at Voinovich Park. The festival will feature environmental activities, music, food, art, and educational opportunities.

The Great Lakes Science Center received permission from the Cleveland Planning Commission to install a wind turbine in front of the museum. The turbine is expected to provide 10-12% of the Science Center's energy needs.

(via Cool Cleveland)

WKSU explores brownfield redevelopment efforts in Cleveland, including the industrial land bank.

Although they were not the highest bidder for the site, Solon City Council selected Gross Builders as the developer for a senior housing project on 27 acres along Aurora Road.

Rejecting a request from a group of private companies and public agencies from Ohio and Indiana, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that state EPA water quality regulations must be at least as strict as U.S. EPA guidelines, adding, "If the states fail to establish regulations consistent with the guidance, Congress has mandated that the EPA impose its own standards."

The West Bank's Stonebridge development continues with the impending construction of 110 condominiums and new retail space.

One of this year's awardees for the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund is the Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company Demolition Project, which has set up a website to chart progress with the demolition and redevelopment of 7.4 acres in Cleveland's Slavic Village.

A Plain Dealer editorial comes out against a proposed bill for legalizing casino gambling, arguing that the legislation would potentially allow too many casinos to be developed throughout the state.

Cleveland City Planning Commission has recommended instituting a design competition to for the proposed construction of a new convention center. The competition would be similar to the process undertaken for Pittsburgh's convention center.

The Convention Facilities Authority was presented with two options for expanding the existing convention center. While the Lakefront and West Block options take different expansion directions, they share the same overall architectural concept.

This past week's A Prairie Home Companion was performed at Blossom Music Center and featured Garrison Keillor as he provided a brief oral history of the Cuyahoga Valley (RealAudio). Keillor tells listeners,"The Cuyahoga River is a beautiful place, once dirty and dangerous. You should come see the Cuyahoga Valley... You'll enjoy it—it will change your mind."

The owner of an adult video store on Brookpark Road lost in all four counts of his legal appeal, including a challenge of the joint zoning agreement between Cleveland and Parma.

The City of Cleveland will seek a $1 million grant from the Clean Ohio Fund to remediate the eight acre site of the old Monarch Aluminum/Club Aluminum Products factory on Detroit Road in Cudell.

Instead of conducting a plan for Cleveland's Ward 15, councilpersons Kelley and Holan have agreed to work on a master plan for all of Old Brooklyn.

Nearly 100 Fairview Park and Rocky River residents attended a meeting where they discussed their concerns about the upcoming Westgate redevelopment.

The City of Lakewood is in the midst of conducting a municipal parking study. Data has been collected for downtown, and the entire city should be surveyed by the end of the year.

On Monday, the Maple Heights Board of Zoning Appeals will again decide on a variance request for the proposed Dollar General store on Granger Road, after a judge threw out their most recent vote.

A fourth development proposal has been offered for the four Village-owned properties on West Orange Street in Chagrin Falls. Businessman Larry Shibley has offered to purchase the land for $800,000, and has proposed a mixed-use development, which would include 14 condominiums in seven three-story buildings and a two-story office/retail building.

South Russell Village Council is trying to determine a funding mechanism for their Muggleton Farm purchase. With help from the Chagrin River Land Conservancy, the Village agreed to buy the 103 acre property last year.

A representative of Erickson Retirement Communities will be in Orange on four dates this summer and fall to share details about the company's proposed retirement community.

The City of Cleveland Heights plans to help low-income renters become accustomed to suburban life by instituting a citizenship program for tenants who receive federal housing assistance.

CMHA could see additional cuts in federal funding due to changes in the way the Department of Housing and Urban Development structures its programs.

The Port Authority, which wants to purchase the rest of Whiskey Island, has plans to fill in the marina adjacent to Wendy Park for bulk storage, but does not know the cost of the project.

Cuyahoga County Commissioners voted yesterday to create a county-wide arts and culture district with the intent of generating public money for the arts.

In a speech to CAMP, Sandra Pianalto, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, suggested that the region should focus on nurturing long-term job growth rather than remaining preoccupied with employment losses.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has released a final version of their Trails Plan, crafted with the intent of providing an approach for creating a statewide system of recreational trails.

(via EcoCity Cleveland)

In Greater Cleveland and around the country, inner ring suburbs are regaining popularity with young families.

(via Planetizen)

Thomas Mulready interviews Scot Rourke of OneCleveland: "We're taking advantage of our regional community assets, and harnessing all our regional assets to more cost effectively deploy, and encourage and facilitate and almost seed invest entrepreneurial economic development and community service opportunities."

This week's Cool Cleveland includes links to a Joe Frolik column that lists current building projects and explores the cyclical nature of construction, and a Roldo Bartimole piece decrying the large public investments that the proposed Flats east bank redevelopment would likely entail.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer calls ODOT's plan to build one new Innerbelt bridge and to rehabilitate and maintain the existing bridge "a mediocre compromise... unlikely to achieve the highest potential in either beauty or economic development" and continues to advocate for a span that would be built south of the existing bridge. Transportation advocate Ken Prendergast provides a drawing that shows the downtown development opportunities (PDF) that would be created by relocating the bridge to the south.

Around sixty new townhouses will be built in Bedford on a site that overlooks Tinker's Creek. Taylor Chair currently occupies the site, but will be moving to the old Brush Wellman site, which will be remediated and redeveloped as Tinker's Creek Commerce Park.

The Ohio EPA continues to fight state budget provisions that would allow private industry to replace wetlands filled to facilitate development with man-made wetlands that may be located several states away. OEPA also would like to see a smaller reduction in the time allowed for permit review than the legislation provides.

Crain's Cleveland Business covers reactions to Forest City's decision to retract its convention center proposal and considers the future of the Avenue at Tower City.

The Plain Dealer examines Rockefeller's petroleum legacy in Cleveland including the refinery on the banks of the Cuyahoga River that is within the Regeneration Zone.

Tomorrow will see the release of a study commissioned by Neighborhood Progress Inc. and conducted by the National Vacant Properties Campaign that will call for more effort by the City of Cleveland to deal with abandoned and vacant properties. Already, the City has begun an industrial land-bank program and the County will add staff to deal with residential foreclosures.

On June 15 at 12:00 p.m., Cleveland Planning Commission Chair Anthony Coyne and Dr. Heywood Sanders of the University of Texas will debate the merits of a new convention center at the City Club. On June 14 at 6:00 p.m., prior to the debate, Dr. Sanders will present a program at Artefino Gallery in the Tower Press Building.

The Ohio Office of Budget and Management announced that higher than expected tax returns will give the state an additional $1.3 billion for next year's budget. A portion of the funds may be used to restore cuts to local funding.

Hyacinth Lofts was awarded CDNC's project of the year award yesterday at the Cleveland Community Development Awards. Awards were also given for property and asset management, affordable housing, community leadership, innovation, leadership in the public sector, and neighborhood revitalization.

Opponents of Providence Baptist Church in Euclid continue to seek to join the City as a defendant in the settled lawsuit brought by the Church last year.

The City of Shaker Heights has committed another $4.9 million to the Shaker Towne Centre redevelopment, in the form of loans to the developer and additional infrastructure improvements. The City had previously spent $8 million on public improvements, and a 30 year TIF, initiated in 2002, is already in place.

A local developer is proposing a stream restoration in Richmond Heights in exchange for building on a Beachwood wetland.

Last weekend, volunteers participated the first annual Euclid Beach State Park cleanup, coordinated by the Lake Shore Merchants Association.

FEMA and the City of North Royalton may purchase and demolish up to 13 Abbey Road homes plagued by flooding problems.

In response to reports of water quality problems in Tinker's Creek, the Ohio EPA has proposed conducting a $300,000 analysis next year, and is looking for funding assistance from local and regional governments. Meanwhile, a group of Solon residents is working with the City and the Trust for Public Lands to create a park around Minnehaha Springs.

Critics of Steelyard Commons say the City of Cleveland's promise of $30 million in federal tax credits and loans violates the administration's pledge that the shopping center would receive no public subsidies.

Crain's Cleveland Business examines the shifting senior living business model of Judson Services, which includes a new semi-rural campus in Bainbridge and an emphasis on home care programming, in addition to operating their University Circle communities.

Rails and Trails presents primary source materials on the history of transportation in Ohio, including The Cleveland Cicerone, a 160 page illustrated "city cyclopedia" from 1897.

(via Urban Ohio)

WCPN's Karen Schaefer reports on her recent visit to Dike 14 and documents its environmental risks as well as its future promise.

As rents on the near west side continue to rise, groups in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood remain committed to redeveloping affordable housing.

The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District received a grant to plan, design, and construct two rain gardens in the Euclid Creek watershed, with a goal of reducing runoff and improving water quality.

(via Hotel Bruce)

The Plain Dealer profiles Robert Stark, the developer of Crocker Park, and provides a hint of what is motivating him to tackle downtown redevelopment.

(Via Cool Cleveland)

Three focus groups will provide information to the Convention Facilities Authority to help them shape the public relations strategy for the construction of a new convention center.

ODOT will build at least one new bridge to bring I-90 over the Cuyahoga River. It has not yet been decided whether the existing Innerbelt bridge would be repaired or two new spans would be constructed. Details will be presented tomorrow.

Cleveland City Council denied a request by Euclid Avenue property owners to lower assessments for the reconstruction of underground storage vaults as required by the Euclid Corridor project.

Forest City has officially withdrawn its site from consideration for the construction of a new convention center as a response to not having its bids selected for the new county administration building.

Cleveland City Council addressed several issues this past week, including the approval of a $6 million loan for property acquisition related to a new retail development on West 117th Street and I-90 and the leasing of 10 acres at Gordon Park to the Salvation Army for a proposed community center.

Local AFL-CIO executive John Ryan provides an editorial that opposes the development of a Wal-Mart in Steelyard Commons.

The Plain Dealer chastises state legislators for giving the state the sole right to regulate oil and gas drilling permits, thereby undermining municipal home rule guarantees while providing the appearance that lawmakers have been unduly influenced by the petroleum lobby.

Arts and culture development continues to receive funding from Cuyahoga County while a Plain Dealer editorial lauds these efforts and calls for additional funding from other sources.

The City of Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Salvation Army are working together to win a grant to build a new community center at Gordon Park.

While Progressive Corp. is expanding its campus, Mayfield Village is becoming increasingly aware of how its future is tied to the insurance giant.

Meanwhile, neighbors of the company in adjacent Mayfield Heights are raising concerns over whether the new buildings will be adequately buffered from their homes.

The San Francisco Urban Environmental Accords were signed yesterday by mayors from around the world. The nonbinding accords consist of a list of actions that will enable cities to act more sustainably.

Cleveland-based architects and developers are increasingly turning to projects outside of the region and cite the local economy, a lack of massive projects, and the need for more cooperation from government as disincentives to working locally.

Euclid Avenue business owners unhappy with the City of Cleveland's assessments for filling underground vaults are threatening legal action.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners will hire a consultant to prepare an independent needs assessment of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The Port has conducted previous capacity studies, but critics claim they are biased or incomplete.

Rumors that Forest City may withdraw its convention center plans have resurfaced, this time in Crain's Cleveland Business.

The first condominium sales have been made in Euclid's lakefront Harbor Town development, and construction is scheduled to start late this summer. When completed, the project will include 132 condominiums, a 200 slip marina, and a breakwall.

The Brooklyn Sun Journal reviews the political maneuvering that led to last month's Steelyard Commons announcement, along with reactions to the news.

After investigating alternate locations, Berea officials have elected to build a new courthouse on the site initially slated for the building, despite the presence of a large amount of foundry sand.

The Sun Star addresses the impacts that proposed Ohio budget cuts would have on communities in southwest Cuyahoga County.

Some Solon officials are not supportive of Oak River Church's proposal to rezone 15 acres and build a new church on Aurora Road near Harper Road, citing a loss of potential tax revenue.

A grant from the GAR Foundation will allow OneCleveland to expand its fiber-optic network into Summit County. OneCleveland is also close to partnering with the City of Cleveland to participate in Intel's Digital Cities Initiative, and will likely adopt a new name now that the provider has a regional focus.

On June 15, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Jaylin Investments vs. the Village of Moreland Hills zoning case. The Chagrin Herald Sun lists contributions made to Supreme Court justices by the attorney representing Jaylin Investments and by other builders which have filed briefs supporting the developer. The company has also retained a crisis communications firm to improve its public image.

The June edition of the Cleveland Memory Newsletter provides photographs of the Eagle Avenue Viaduct demolition now in progress.

Construction of a new stadium at Collinwood high school has begun, and should be completed in time for the start of the football season this fall.

Cleveland Councilman Kevin Kelley hopes Old Brooklyn Neighborhood Services can prepare a neighborhood plan that would focus on improving housing and retail quality in Old Brooklyn's southwest side.

The Sun Herald provides more information about the planned conversion of Westgate Mall to an open-air retail center. Preliminary plans call for replacing the entire structure except for the Kohl's store with unnamed major stores and 50 to 60 specialty shops and restaurants by 2007. A Rocky River resident has begun a campaign to keep big box stores out of the development and has scheduled a meeting for interested residents on June 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church.

A new call and dispatch center located within the First Integrated Regional Senior Transportation Consortium (FIRST) will begin coordinating senior transportation efforts as part of the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County.

Despite objections from neighbors of the project, North Olmsted City Council approved changes to plans for the retail/office development at Parcel E along Brookpark Road. Changes made at the request of retailers include increased parking, more screening and buffer areas, and moving a building 60 feet closer to a residential area.

Solon City Council's Finance Committee has recommended selling a 27.2 acre site on Aurora Road to Gross Builders for development as senior housing.

The City of Cleveland has hired Andrew Watterson to fill its new Sustainability Programs Manager position, and Cleveland Public Art selected Acting Director Greg Peckham as Director, succeeding Lillian Kuri.

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