Steven Litt feels that Cleveland has a weak architecture and civic design culture, but that the city has "multiple chances to redefine its image, strengthen its economy and make itself a better place in which to live," if leaders can place a greater emphasis on design.
May 2006 Archives
31 May 2006
The June issue of Inside Business includes an overview of eminent domain issues in Ohio, a report on the recommendations of the Ohio Eminent Domain Task Force, a summary of the findings of the Dashboard Indicators for the Northeast Ohio Economy study, and a profile of Team NEO CEO Thomas Waltermire.
30 May 2006
The Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy selected three more couples to join its program of leasing historic farmsteads in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for use as small working farms.
A deal with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority would provide an estimated $750,000 though a sales tax exemption and a low-interest loan for the new Cleveland Cavaliers practice facility in Independence.
The City of Bedford will demolish the remnants of an 1852 railroad depot, despite objections from the Bedford Historical Society. The City will try to save original posts and beams for display.
26 May 2006
John Kuehner reports that the Great Lakes Science Center is set to activate its wind turbine on June 9. He also notes that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones secured language in an appropriations bill that, if passed, will provide $1.3 million for green bulkheads along the Cuyahoga River.
Victor Shaia continues to move ahead with plans for Lighthouse Landing, a condominium tower project on the site of his Main Avenue parking lot, despite the property being targeted for acquisition as part of the Flats east bank development.
Construction of the $60 million addition to SouthPark Center in Strongsville is on schedule. Work on a new 60,000 square foot movie theater is scheduled to begin soon, and the entire 239,000 square foot project remains slated for completion next spring.
The Cuyahoga County Engineer offered to take responsibility for over 2 million feet of sanitary sewers in Parma. The proposal calls for the development of a capacity, management, operation, and maintenance program and for homeowners to be assessed about $100 per year.
The City of Brook Park is surveying senior residents about their opinions on the Tri-City Senior Center and the proposal for a new facility.
The City of North Royalton has begun conducting traffic counts as part of its Town Center District Transportation and Pedestrian Linkages Plan. The next public meeting on the plan will be held on June 11 at 7:00 in the Mayor's Court.
The 176 acre site of Pulte Homes' planned Stonewater subdivision on Old Mill Road in Twinsburg Township remains cleared and abandoned after the developer walked away from the project. Township officials want the company to restore the property and are going after a performance bond the company filed with Summit County.
The Cleveland Municipal School District plans to begin demolition of East Clark Elementary School in September. The district's oldest building will be replaced by a new school, also on East 146th Street.
Although an issue that would have created a green-space enhancement overlay was voted down by Solon residents in May, several council members want to put it back on the ballot this November. Proponents contend that the overlay had a great deal of support—it passed in all but one ward—and deserves to be reintroduced with greater educational outreach. Others feel that the voters' decision should remain unchallenged.
The construction of the new Garfield Heights performing arts center continues to run behind schedule. Though the construction managers of the project are cognizant that delays may result in higher construction costs, school board officials are pleased that developments are proceeding with care.
The South Euclid Planning Commission recommended approval of both Cutter's Creek and Stoneridge Place residential developments, though several residents voiced concern about the density of Stoneridge Place. No objections were raised about Cutter's Creek, a 48-unit development at Anderson and Green Roads. Public hearings for these two developments will be held June 22.
Cleveland Division of Water's proposed water plan remains a controversial issue. Cleveland residents have voiced their concerns that the plan favors the suburbs, while Mayor Cervenik of Euclid is uneasy about the potential loss of autonomy. The plan is scheduled for a Cleveland City Council Finance Committee hearing on June 5.
Despite delays caused by the weather, the Cleveland Metroparks anticipate that the Towpath Trail pedestrian bridge in Valley View over Granger Road should be finished in September, while the bridge in Garfield Heights over Warner Road is almost complete.
Developer Bob Stark is continuing negotiations to acquire additional Warehouse District parking lots for development, and says that his project differs from other developments because he is trying "to create an extended context" rather than "merely plugging holes".
25 May 2006
University Heights City Council approved preliminary plans for a nine story condominium tower behind Temple Emanuel El on Green Road. Residents on adjacent Baintree Road say the 68 unit building will encroach on their homes.
The Plain Dealer presents more information about the conversion of the former bus garage at the corner of East 26th Street and Hamilton Avenue to a bathhouse. The $7 million project is scheduled to open in July.
24 May 2006
Developer Bob Stark was pleased by the responses of retailers at the ICSC convention to his proposed Warehouse District development. The Richard E. Jacobs Group also promoted a proposed development at the convention. The Arborlands project at I-77 and Royalton Road in Brecksville and Broadview Heights would feature 400,000 square feet of retail, 100,000 square feet of offices, and luxury for sale housing.
After a fire destroyed a boathouse last year, the Cleveland Rowing Foundational is working to improve their facilities on the Scranton Peninsula. In addition to building a new boathouse, they intend to add more buildings, docks, and landscaping, and have agreed to lease the old Carter Road Bridge operator's building from the City of Cleveland.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are seeking a low-interest loan from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to help fund the construction of their new practice facility in Independence. They may also attempt to obtain a tax increment financing package from the City of Independence.
23 May 2006
Ohio legislators are reportedly closer to a compromise on a predatory lending bill, though some provisions remain unresolved. The legislation also includes a ban on real estate flipping.
The City of South Euclid has begun posting fluorescent notices on rental homes that have not been registered with the City. The City hopes the tactic will shame landlords into registering and deter tenants from renting an unregistered property. If landlords don't comply with the law, the City will evict the tenants after 30 days. Other inner-ring suburbs face similar challenges of maintaining housing stock.
An international team of Lake Erie researchers have found that phosphorous runoff from yard and farm fertilizers is largely to blame for the dead zone in Lake Erie's Central Basin. Other culprits include the invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which excrete the nutrient. These findings will be presented at a conference that started Monday in Windsor, Ontario.
22 May 2006
The list of firms competing to design the new Cuyahoga County administration building was narrowed from 11 to six, when several firms withdrew or were late in filing paperwork. County officials will interview the remaining candidates on June 2 and 5.
The AIA Cleveland Chapter gave historic preservation awards to seven local projects on Thursday. The winning projects were the McGuffey School, West Tech Lofts, Hanna Perkins Center, Josaphat Arts Hall, Shiloh Baptist Church, Nottingham-Spirk Innovation Center, and the Howard Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse.
A joint committee will meet this week to work on a compromise combining Ohio Senate and House bills on predatory lending. Plain Dealer columnist Sheryl Harris worries that heavy lobbying from the mortgage industry and the rushed process could lead to loopholes in the bill. Meanwhile, the foreclosure backlog in Cuyahoga County is generating friction between foreclosure industry professionals and court magistrates.
A Plain Dealer editorial calls the Cuyahoga County Commissioners "fickle" for seeking better offers for a 105 acre parcel between Harvard and Emery roads months after they signed a letter of understanding with Cuyahoga Community College.
At Friday's Cleveland City Planning Commission meeting, Chairman Tony Coyne said he supports taking a closer look at a proposed retractable roof for Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Planning Commission also approved designs for the new Westside Relief High School at West 65th Street and Walworth Avenue.
Many Greater Cleveland developers are in Las Vegas promoting their properties and new developments at the annual ICSC Spring Convention. Among them is Bob Stark, who is pitching his proposed Warehouse District development to potential tenants.
The Ohio Eminent Domain Task Force formed two subcommittees to explore aspects of eminent domain. One will examine definitions of blight, while the other will study compensation and procedural issues.
(via NEO Babble)
While Middleburg Heights officials back a proposed taxing district for a new Tri-City Senior Center, leaders in Berea and Brook Park are more dubious about participating.
David Sinclair of Advanced Hydro Solutions, in an op-ed article in the Akron Beacon Journal, responds to concerns resulting from a hydroelectric project proposed by his company at the Gorge Dam. He states that environmental and engineering studies are currently being conducted and until complete, the costs versus benefits should not be debated.
Chagrin Falls Village Council will decide today if they will allow the construction of a large, two story home on Solon road. The decision comes after a challenge from neighbors upset by the perceived "mansionization" of the village. Older communities across the country are facing similar problems of trying to balance the increasing demand for large homes and historic preservation efforts.
19 May 2006
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners hope to begin construction work this year on the new county administration building at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street and on the new juvenile justice center at at East 93rd Street and Quincy Avenue.
They also agreed to spend $110,000 of the $1.5 million set aside to help implement the suggestions of the Blue Ribbon Economic Development Taskforce. The funds will go to a team led by Ed Morrison to continue their work in encouraging the development economic clusters.
Solon City Council agreed to purchase 16.75 acres on Aurora Road near the Bainbridge Township line from developer John McGill for $1.55 million. Officials say the land will be used for recreation needs. The City pledged to purchase the property last year as part of the development agreement for McGill's Marketplace North shopping center in Bainbridge.
The Ohio Department of Transportation will rehabilitate decaying noise barriers along I-480 in North Olmsted. Repairs are scheduled to begin in October.
Brecksville's new Human Services Center and the Brecksville Community Center expansion opened last weekend. It houses the the Human Services Department and offers amenities to the city's seniors and those with special needs.
Parma City Council approved a $90,000 traffic study for the area around Parmatown Mall. Funding for the project includes $72,000 from a Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grant awarded in 2005. The 18-month project will explore methods to improve access to area facilities.
The Strongsville building commissioner says the high foreclosure rate is to blame for the abandoned properties that blight the City and neighboring communities. He asserts that the high volume of foreclosure cases in the court system has slowed down the processing and stilted the city's ability to take action on these properties.
In response to similar problems, Euclid City Council passed a resolution that will allow the City to charge owners of repeated nuisance properties for city employees' time. They also created a Special Residential Improvement Zone covering a section of southwest Euclid. Residents in the area will be eligible for a 10% rebate on home improvements.
Work is nearly complete on the second phase of improvements to Lakewood Park, which include a new trail, a ramp, and a waterside promenade. The next step, scheduled to begin in late 2007, will involve hill stabilization and the addition of a path on the west side of the park. A grand opening ceremony will be held on Friday, May 26 at 10:00 a.m.
While some suburban mayors believe that Cleveland Division of Water's new water plan is a breakthrough in regional cooperation, others believe the no poaching clause warrants further discussion.
Other communities that buy water in bulk from Cleveland are not pleased that while their water rates would increase by 30%, they would not receive maintenance assistance. Meanwhile, Mayor Biddlecombe of Berea asserts that Berea's decision to have an autonomous water system will save its residents money.
Seven Hills City Council created a new community relations and economic development position, which will be filled by Matthew Ulrich.
Developer Robert Stark will share his vision for the Warrensville-Van Aken district at a public presentation on May 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Shaker Community Building on Lee Road. On June 12, City Council is expected to decide whether to enter into master development negotiations with Stark Enterprises.
The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for Ruffing Montessori School on Fairmount Boulevard. The school seeks to acquire and convert adjacent land into an outdoor play area, garden, and eco-laboratory. Permit approval was contingent on several conditions set forth by the Commission that addressed concerns of surrounding residents.
18 May 2006
Developer Bob Stark signed the first development agreement for his proposed $1 billion Warehouse District development. The agreement covers two large parking lots between West 3rd and West 6th Streets, as well as a small lot at the corner of West 3rd Street and St. Clair Avenue.
The Ferchill Group is currently renovating Carter Manor as subsidized senior housing. Work on the downtown tower on Prospect Avenue near Huron Road is scheduled to be finished this summer, and it has been renamed Winton Manor in honor of automotive pioneer Alexander Winton, the building's original namesake.
The Plain Dealer looks at the delays that have prevented the start of construction of the Garfield Heights City Schools' new performing arts center.
17 May 2006
The Ohio House passed a bill that would create a 25% tax credit available for historic building renovations. Similar legislation is under consideration in the Ohio Senate.
The Ohio House voted Tuesday in favor of a new law that will expedite the process of seizing abandoned properties. The law authorizes county boards of revision to rule on foreclosure of abandoned property for back taxes, bypassing the courts. The law has significance for the Cuyahoga County court system, which has a backlog of foreclosure cases. The bill will now move to Governor Taft for signing.
In this week's Free Times, Dan Harkins examines the prospects of a proposed commuter rail line connecting Cleveland and Lorain.
GreenCityBlueLake explores how NEORSD is developing a strategy to better manage stormwater. The District is considering forming an authority to manage stormwater run-off by charging user fees to residents and businesses. Similar authorities have been set up in Cincinnati and Columbus.
16 May 2006
The Plain Dealer explores the first year of work by Brooke Furio to clean up brownfields and establish an industrial land bank in the City of Cleveland.
Plans were unveiled for a 46 unit high-end condominium project in Lakewood. The Cliffs on Rocky River will overlook the Rocky River on a site north of Detroit Road and west of Sloan Avenue. Developers hope to begin construction in July and complete the first phase in summer 2007.
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority has proposed a park for the site of the former Riverview Estates near West 25th Street in Ohio City. The 17.3 acre property was originally slated for redevelopment as a mixed-income HOPE VI apartment and retail complex, but unstable slopes made the site unfeasible for development.
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday issued an opinion (PDF) in the Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler tax incentives case, unanimously ruling that Ohio taxpayers do not have standing to challenge state tax or spending decisions in federal court. The plaintiffs are expected to bring the case back to the Ohio courts.
15 May 2006
The developer of a proposed soccer stadium and retail center in northern Summit County wants the County to increase real estate conveyance fees in order to fund construction of the complex.
On May 19 and May 26 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative will host professional workshops focusing on plans for the Innerbelt and their interrelationship with downtown Cleveland.
Ohio EPA director Joseph P. Koncelik claims it is impossible for the Cleveland area to meet the stricter federal ozone standards by 2010, and cited a need for "regional and national reductions of pollution." Greater Cleveland's redesignation from a "moderate" to a "serious" pollution level category would give the region until 2013 to come into attainment but would require additional air quality controls.
12 May 2006
Four local agencies were among the recipients of $70 million in brownfields grants from the US EPA. The City of Cleveland received $200,000 for the cleanup of a site on East 71st Street, the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District received $200,000 for assessments of Dike 14, Cuyahoga County received two $200,000 grants for site assessments, and the Cleveland Metroparks received $200,000 for site assessments.
(Update: Crain's Cleveland Business reports on the awards to Cuyahoga County.)
The citizens group Friends of Whiskey Island is urging the Cleveland Metroparks to assume responsibility for Wendy Park and the Whiskey Island Marina. Last year, park commissioners said they would not do so before the Towpath Trail was extended to the lakefront. The group is asking the Metroparks to move more quickly, citing concerns about a potential takeover of the marina by the Port Authority.
The developer of the proposed Rockside Terrace project in Seven Hills is ready to begin negotiating a development agreement with the City. The agreement may include a public financing component.
Steven Litt reviews Robert A.M. Stern's neoclassic-inspired design for the new Lakewood Public Library, and concludes it will be good for the area to have a work by "the nation's leading ambassador for historical revival styles."
The Ohio Development Department loosened minimum property size rules for the Ohio Job Ready Sites program, but not enough to satisfy officials in the state's urbanized counties.
James Kassouf maintains that his plan to build lakefront condominiums in the flats is genuine, and not a maneuver intended to increase the property value of parking lots wanted for the Flats east bank development.
Strongsville Councilman Michael Daymut attributes the defeat of Issue 38, which would have paid for the construction of a new municipal center, to economic trends and inefficiencies at polling stations. The city will analyze why the issue failed before deciding whether to put it back on the ballot.
Berea officials are questioning if proceeding with the proposed new Tri-City Senior Center would be fiscally and socially responsible. With several other major projects under consideration, they feel that the long-term effects of the plan must be explored.
Construction of an addition to the Don Umerley Civic Center began this week in Rocky River. On Monday, City Council approved a lease of space in the addition to Fairview Hospital for rehabilitation and therapy programs. The addition will also include a natatorium and aquatic center, a children's playground, and a teen drop-in center.
The NOCCA spring forum, titled "Effects of Big Box Retail Development Without Regional Planning" will be held on Thursday, May 18 at Tri-C's Corporate College East in Warrensville Heights.
The community group campaigning for a suburban joint recreation district believes Lyndhurst City Council was premature in deciding that the city will not be involved in the proposed district. Other cities and entities remain interested in the district, including the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District.
Although Beachwood's mayor believes the proposed University Hospitals medical center in the Chagrin Highlands will be good for the area's economy, the treasurer of the Beachwood schools asserts that the extension won't have a positive impact on the school system if the establishment is given tax-exempt status.
In response to continued development pressure, the Avon Planning Commission is considering changing the City's cluster subdivision ordinance to allow higher densities and attached units in order to increase greenspace and aesthetic diversity.
11 May 2006
Some architects support renovating the Ameritrust Tower, from cost savings, sustainability, or historic preservation perspectives. Cuyahoga County officials are soliciting opinions about the future of the downtown skyscraper as part of the planning process for a new county administration building.
Several Cleveland homeowners in the Villages of Central are reporting structural problems in their recently constructed homes. Residents assert that builder Rysar Properties failed to ensure quality construction.
Architect Bob Corna is scheduled to present his plan for a $90 million retractable roof for Cleveland Browns Stadium to the Cleveland Planning Commission today. He wants City Council to form a committee to study the proposal, and Councilman Mike Polensek likes the idea.
(Update: WCPN and WEWS report on the meeting.)
10 May 2006
The Plain Dealer examines reactions to the City of Cleveland's water system proposal and its push towards regionalism. Some want to extend the plan to areas outside of Cuyahoga County that are served by the Cleveland Division of Water.
Yesterday, the City of Cleveland filed a lawsuit that seeks to keep General Environmental Management from reopening their hazardous waste recycling plant in the Flats until the company meets state and city fire codes. In addition, the Ohio and federal environmental protection agencies and the regional sewer district are all in the midst of investigations or actions against the company.
The Museum of Contemporary Art has narrowed their search for an architect to design their new building to three firms: Sharples Holden Pasquarelli of New York City, Office dA of Boston, and Foreign Office Architects of London. They intend to select an architect by June for a facility in Case's new arts and retail district.
(via Blog on the City)
Stark Enterprises was the only company to respond to a request for qualifications from the City of Shaker Heights for the redevelopment of the Warrensville-Van Aken commercial district. Developer Bob Stark envisions increased density featuring new residential, retail, and office construction in the 60 acre area over the next decade.
With the Whiskey Island Marina again facing the possibility of acquisition by the Port Authority, Peter Griesinger suggests that the money needed to convert the site to a bulk storage facility would be better spent on improving public access to Wendy Park. On Saturday, May 20, the park will host events as part of RiverDay 2006.
09 May 2006
A Plain Dealer editorial offers support for an Ohio House bill that would establish a low-interest loan program aimed at assisting qualifying senior and disabled homeowners with paying their property taxes.
Dover Lake Waterpark in Sagamore Hills Township will not open for the 2006 season. Cuyahoga Valley National Park officials are concerned about potential future developments on the 54 acre site that borders the national park, but they cannot afford to purchase the water park.
The College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State will host a forum titled "Sustainable Neighborhoods, Sustainable Cities" on Saturday, May 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
08 May 2006
The Akron Beacon Journal has more information about the debate over a proposed hydroelectric plant in the Gorge Metro Park, and in an editorial, says that Metro Parks, Serving Summit County should be "commended for its protection of the public interest" for its opposition to the project.
On Friday, parking lot owner James Kassouf's plan for ten high rise lakefront condominium towers in the Flats was presented to a skeptical Cleveland Planning Commission. Some view the proposed $250 million project as a ploy to raise the value of land wanted for Scott Wolstein's Flats east bank project.
05 May 2006
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority purchased its first property for the Flats east bank redevelopment, a building on Old River Road.
The Great Lakes Science Center is currently installing a wind turbine in front of the museum. It will serve as a demonstration project for wind power while supplying an expected 7% of the museum's power needs.
(Update: a Plain Dealer graphic presents more details.)
Residents with septic tanks will face stricter regulations as of 2008. In an attempt help its residents with septic tanks avoid fees and paperwork, Olmsted Falls plans to install a new sewer line. However, some residents feel that the imposed assessments are unfair.
An Akron Beacon Journal editorial chides Ohio lawmakers for forcing a confrontation over municipal residency requirements, calling it a "destructive and costly distraction."
Cuyahoga County officials continue to consider their options for redeveloping the southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street for a new county administration building, which include the possibility of razing the Marcel Breuer-designed Ameritrust Tower.
(via Urban Ohio)
04 May 2006
A Florida real estate investor intends to convert the vacant former Greyhound depot near East 26th Street and St. Clair Avenue to a 48,000 square foot bathhouse.
Questions about the proposed Cleveland-Portage County water distribution agreement and the text of David Abbott's speech at the Richard Shatten Public Policy Competition awards are available at GreenCityBlueLake.
03 May 2006
Issue 11 (residential rezoning): failed
Issue 12 (zoning code change): passed
Issue 19 (parking lot rezoning): failed
Issue 35 (Rockside Terrace rezoning): passed
Issue 37 (greenspace zoning overlay creation): failed
For more results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or Cleveland.com.
02 May 2006
The City of Cleveland has developed a water plan that aims to promote regional cooperation (PDF) throughout Northeast Ohio. Although the proposal would dramatically increase water rates, the City of Cleveland would agree to acquire and maintain 3,600 miles of suburban water mains if municipalities agree to stop "poaching" employers from each other.
The most recent Making Change installment uses local, national, and global perspectives to examine the migration of people and jobs from Cuyahoga County.
An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal reacts to a recent report by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group which found that more than 8 billion gallons of sewage are dumped into Lake Erie each year due to combined sewer overflows. This editorial identifies short-term solutions and also recognizes a needed federal role.
The Cuyahoga County Department of Development, through its Brownfield Redevelopment Fund, is providing a $1 million loan to aid in the redevelopment of 39 acres of the former Standard Oil Refinery No. 1. Universal Trucking Services will use the site near Broadway Avenue in Cleveland as a freight distribution facility.
01 May 2006
With the Ohio law forbidding municipal residency requirements scheduled to go into effect today, the Cities of Cleveland and Akron filed lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. The City of Toledo filed a similar lawsuit on April 28.
(Update: the Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal have more details.)
A Plain Dealer editorial offers praise for downtown property owners for establishing and funding the clean and safe program.
Cleveland City Council and the Portage County Board of Commissioners are considering an agreement that would authorize the Cleveland Division of Water to begin supplying water to developments in Portage County. Some Cleveland council members want a "no poaching clause" included in the agreement.