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November 2006 Archives

This week's Scene explores the influx of Palestinian and Albanian immigrants in Lakewood and their impacts on the community.

Communities throughout Northeast Ohio are continuing to embrace New Urbanist development patterns as evidenced by new neighborhoods in Cleveland and Akron, predominately retail developments like Crocker Park and Legacy Village, and efforts by suburbs such as Solon and North Royalton to develop traditional downtowns where none had existed previously.

Summit County citizens may be asked to approve cigarette or hotel room tax increases that would be used to raise $7 million for a proposed soccer and retail development in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township.

Update: The Wolstein Sports and Entertainment Group has a website touting the potential development.

(Via WKYC)

The Corner Alley complex in Downtown Cleveland is the latest business that will be introduced to the East Fourth Street Neighborhood. Other development projects are slated to open in Spring 2007.

Consultant Michael Berne, author of the Steelyard Commons impact study, says that while Cleveland leaders are courting major retailers and suburban-style shopping centers, they are neglecting the city's neighborhood retail.

A new study by the Housing Research & Advocacy Center exposed that "African Americans and Hispanics in Ohio were denied mortgage loans more often than whites regardless of income, and those who did receive loans were more likely to obtain loans with high interest rates."

A Plain Dealer editorial offers opposition to the proposed Ohio eminent domain constitutional amendment, saying that it is unnecessary because "it merely reiterates the Supreme Court's Norwood ruling" and finds it troubling because "it seeks to assault home-rule rights by extending whatever blight definition the state adopts to every local government."

Discussion on this morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN centered around the foreclosure crisis in Cuyahoga County. The show's guests were attorney John Reed, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, and Zach Schiller of Policy Matters Ohio.

Yesterday, the show examined the proposed Cleveland district of design with guests Ned Hill of Cleveland State, Dan Cuffaro of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Chip Nowacek of the Viktor Schreckengost Foundation, and Laura Marshall of ASM International.

Canada's Sierra Legal Defence Fund released their initial Great Lakes Sewage Report Card, and said Cleveland "performed abysmally", giving the city a grade of D+ and ranking it 19th out of the 20 cities studied. The low score was in part due to the area's high rate of combined sewer overflows.

(via Dave's Blog)

A $1 million gift from the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation to the Nature Conservancy will be used to protect migratory bird habitats in Belize and in Northeast Ohio's Grand River watershed.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has a few more details.)

A panel discussion on housing design (PDF) will be held on December 6 at 6:00 p.m. as part of the HOME House Project at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Galleries.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial disagrees with Ohio Supreme Court's decision to strike down Cleveland's predatory lending law, saying it "amounts to an alarming disregard for home rule." A Plain Dealer editorial, on the other hand, says the law served its purpose by acting as a catalyst for a new state law.

The US Department of Agriculture extended its ash tree quarantine from Michigan's upper peninsula to cover the rest of Michigan, plus all of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The rules, designed to combat the spread of the invasive emerald ash borer, carry fines for violations of $250 to $250,000.

Consultants for the City of Avon intend to have design proposals for a new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road ready for public inspection by mid-January.

Developers continue to wait for approval from by the US Army Corps of Engineers of their wetlands mitigation plan (PDF) so that they can begin work on the Carrington Court senior housing project in Solon. Construction may begin next spring.

The planned site for the new Windsor Hospital at Bartlett and Rockside Roads in Bedford "is not in good shape and will require expensive corrections." Hospital owners Psychological Solutions Inc. terminated a purchase agreement for the property, but the company and Bedford officials expect the project to move forward. Meanwhile, Mayor Mallin of Bedford Heights, who is opposed to the project, wants the Ohio EPA to investigate the site.

The Sun Herald summarizes North Olmsted's planning and development highlights over the past year.

Redevelopment of the Gordon Square Homes was completed last week. The $12 million project in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood includes 85 low-income apartments and 6,000 square feet of commercial space.

URS Corporation is working on two options for a streetscape improvement plan for Waterloo Road in Cleveland. One alternative includes burying power lines and installing ornamental lights, and the other features traffic calming elements, street trees, fiber optic lights, and a pedestrian plaza at East 156th Street.

Last week, the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority voted to accept $250,000 from the Cleveland Foundation for a study of their University Circle station, purchased two acres to expand the North Olmsted Park-N-Ride lot, and approved a group rate on monthly passes for residents of the Avalon Station condominiums under construction in Shaker Heights.

Graphic designer Michael Bierut reflects on his childhood home, a 1967 split-level house in Parma.

Governor Taft plans to ask state lawmakers to renew funding for the Clean Ohio program which will run out of funds next year. The program has funded nearly 700 preservation and cleanup projects, including the preservation of 25,600 acres for wildlife and 20,000 acres for farming, the construction of 216 miles of recreation trails, and the cleanup of 126 brownfield sites.

The existing Cleveland Convention Center is being marketed to filmmakers for production and soundstage operations that could take advantage of the building's size, location, and attributes. State and municipal tax incentives have been used by some cities to attract film projects. Supporters of the strategy hope that local prospects for film-making may improve as a result of these interventions.

Ohio voters may be asked to consider a constitutional amendment that would restrict the ability of local government to use eminent domain for economic development purposes. The proposed amendment that may appear on the November 2007 ballot would respond to recommendations from the Eminent Domain Task Force convened by the Ohio Legislature.

A CSU study shows that Cuyahoga County judges have significantly decreased the amount of time it takes for foreclosure cases to be resolved. However, increased vigilance is needed to prevent homeowners from entering the foreclosure process in the first place.

Ohio Greenways project director Elaine Marsh will give a presentation this Wednesday on the benefits of green infrastructure and how protected open spaces, natural practices for handling stormwater, and improved public trail access can be combined as interconnected projects for better communities.

New York-based MJB Consulting completed the Steelyard Commons impact study. The study predicts potential repercussions of the center on existing retail, and concluded that while it will compete with some retailers, it won't necessarily doom local retail districts.

(Update: Bill Callahan disagrees with the Plain Dealer's assessment of the study, noting that it says that several supermarkets will likely have to close. He also posted the study's executive summary (Microsoft Word) on his site.)

As foreclosures continue to trouble the local housing market, city, county, state, and federal officials formed a task force to to crack down on mortgage fraud and indict predatory lenders. The Ohio Supreme Court ruling that struck down Cleveland's predatory lending law will not affect the task force.

Donovan Rypkema, the speaker at the Cleveland Restoration Society's Annual Community Luncheon, said that reusing structures is the best way to save energy and called historic preservation "the ultimate in recycling."

(Update: a transcript of the speech (PDF) is available online.)

ClevelandBikes received a $10,000 grant from Bikes Belong for development and promotion of a downtown Cleveland bike station.

City Architecture, Westlake Reed Leskosky, and Robert Maschke Architects won eight of this year's 13 design awards from the Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes a video interview with Justin Glanville and Erin Aleman about their Emerging Cleveland tours: Windows Media (19.6 MB), QuickTime (13.4 MB).

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland's predatory lending laws are unconstitutional, saying that they violated the home rule provision of the Ohio Constitution. The 5-2 decision means that Ohio communities cannot adopt predatory lending laws that are tougher than state law. Ohio legislators passed a new predatory lending bill in May that strengthened lending rules, but did not make them as restrictive as the Cleveland ordinances.

University Circle leaders are contemplating the creation of a special improvement district to fund safety and cleanup efforts similar to the clean and safe program in downtown Cleveland. University Circle Incorporated also launched a redesigned website that includes photo galleries, an events calendar, and a detailed interactive map.

Team NEO has shifted strategies from concentrating on business retention efforts to an approach that balances them with endeavors to attract new businesses to the region.

Cuyahoga County Department of Development Brownfield Redevelopment Division has prepared a 14-minute video (Windows Media stream) that showcases their achievements and abilities.

Continuing its analysis of banking in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer found that major banks have ignored bills from the City of Cleveland for cutting grass and cleanup of vacant houses. In addition, a new report says that the City did much of its banking with companies that had the poorest records of community reinvestment.

Steven Litt reviewed the HOME House Project exhibit at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The show, which highlights affordable high-performance housing designs, will be on display until December 22 (PDF).

The Plain Dealer's Amanda Garrett interviewed Zanna Feitler, director of the Maharishi Enlightenment Center in Woodmere, about plans to build "peace palaces" in Mayfield Heights, Parma, and Strongsville.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed University Circle Design District and its corresponding design review committee.

The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin reports on the possible impacts that the change in Congressional leadership will have on funding for the Great Lakes Regional Collaborative.

(via Dave's Blog)

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability bestowed their 2006 Champions of Sustainability Awards on Thursday.

Last week, the Ohio General Assembly took additional testimony on companion bills in the House and Senate that would establish an Ohio Historic Tax Credit.

With Voices & Choices set to soon release its final report, one of the program's organizers says that it's time for area leaders to take action on its recommendations.

Yesterday's Sound of Ideas on WCPN explored unintended consequences of the Euclid Corridor project. Guests were RTA CEO Joe Calabrese, Downtown Cleveland Alliance President Joe Marinucci, restaurant owner Nick Sarris, and Plain Dealer critic Steven Litt.

Results of a study about Cuyahoga County's foreclosure prevention program were presented at a recent meeting. The study suggests that early intervention is key to avoiding foreclosures.

(Update: the study (PDF) is now available online.)

At the second of three public workshops about the Downtown Euclid Transportation & Redevelopment Plan, planners, designers, and engineers presented alternatives for downtown redevelopment. The third public meeting will be held in late January or early February.

Although the new route for RTA's University Circle/Heights Area Community Circulator is scheduled to go into effect on December 11, the Shaker Square Area Development Corp. continues to lobby officials to reverse the change.

The Sun Press contrasts the efforts of Shaker Heights and Beachwood to combat the invasive emerald ash borer. Shaker Heights plans to cut down its 1,800 ash trees, while Beachwood intends to annually treat its 900 trees with an insecticide.

Residents along West 47th Street between Bridge and Franklin Avenues are illuminating their porches at night in order to increase neighborhood safety and community interaction. The initiative was funded by a Cleveland Foundation Neighborhood Connections grant.

Leaders in Brooklyn want to update the City's zoning code (PDF). A representative of a City Council committee presented the proposed changes at a meeting on Monday.

At a meeting on November 6, Rocky River residents expressed their support for the creation of a railroad quiet zone in the City. City Council voted unanimously on Monday to file a notice of intent for the quiet zone with the state. A final decision about whether to establish the zone depends on the cost, which a recent study (PDF) said could range between $345,000 and $1.4 million.

The new main entrance of SouthPark mall in Strongsville was opened on Monday. The entire 200,000 square foot expansion is scheduled to open on May 10. A 50,000 Dick's Sporting Goods built as part of the project recently opened.

Valley View officials are pleased with the accomplishments of the Village's young economic development program.

Jeffrey Verespej of the CWRU Observer views the Towpath Trail as a regional asset, but feels that local leaders should express greater urgency in completing the project.

Senior housing advocates in Independence reiterated their intention to bring the issue before voters again, although they don't know when.

Mayor Mallin of Bedford Heights opposes the plans to build a new facility for Windsor Hospital in neighboring Bedford.

The Maple Heights Planning Commission approved plans for 44 single-family houses at Jackson and Hazelwood Avenues, off of Broadway Avenue. The 1,800 to 1,900 square foot homes will be priced between $150,000 and $189,000.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District delayed its decision on whether to raise rates until December 7.

The Board of Cuyahoga County Commissioners have approved the issuance of $100 million in bonds for construction projects for the Cleveland Clinic.

Federal officials are investigating CMHA's purchase of property in the Forgotten Triangle for its new headquarters while weblogger Chas Rich inquires why similar concerns haven't been raised by the Plain Dealer regarding the purchase of property by the County for the Juvenile Detention Center.

A Plain Dealer editorial highlights actions the City of South Euclid has taken to revitalize itself, including the development of the Novicky Court condominiums, the City's ongoing efforts regarding Cedar Center, and the purchase of nine duplexes on Greenvale Road that had been the subject of numerous nuisance complaints.

Developer John McGill won a public auction for Parma Heights' Cornerstone project, bidding $7.9 million for the property that he had agreed to purchase for $10 million this past June.

The City of South Euclid will purchase nine duplexes on Greenvale Drive that have a history of problem tenants. Officials intend to demolish the houses and either sell the land to a developer or expand adjacent Quarry Park. The City will issue bonds to finance the $1.6 million purchase.

(Update: The Sun Messenger has additional information.)

Today's Plain Dealer supplies a few more details about the proposed town center district in Solon, plans for which include a new fire station, upscale retail, infrastructure improvements, a historic area, and an amphitheater.

As lifestyle centers sprout across Greater Cleveland, merchants in local traditional downtowns are finding they must be creative in order to compete.

Steven Litt and Bill Barrow reflect on the life of Cleveland art and architectural historian Walter Leedy, who passed away last week at the age of 64.

WCPN reports on the efforts by volunteers to control invasive species in the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial backs the Great Lakes collaboration proposed by the Brookings Institution, calling it "the mother of all regional ideas."

South Euclid City Council members toured the Novicky Court condominium development under construction near the Church of St. Gregory the Great. The $3 million project includes 14 units priced between $190,000 and $220,000.

The US Census Bureau released new population profiles based on American Community Survey data. They illustrate continued racial disparities in income, education, and home ownership.

CSU Urban Affairs Dean Mark Rosentraub draws parallels between retailing and immigration, saying that the Cleveland needs to better market itself to potential immigrants.

The Plain Dealer offered additional commentary about the Forgotten Triangle land deal. Columnist Chris Sheridan penned a sarcastic item, while an editorial says that the CMHA board "in need of a rude wake-up call from federal investigators."

Steven Litt analyzed and critiqued the Cleveland Clinic's plans to improve its Cleveland campus as it approaches total build-out. After dropping plans to close a portion of Euclid Avenue to automotive traffic, Clinic CEO Delos "Toby" Cosgrove wants to refurbish existing buildings and improve the Clinic's relations to surrounding neighborhoods. He inherited some major building projects midstream and has begun construction of a 4,000 space parking garage on Carnegie Avenue.

A Plain Dealer editorial offers support for the increased scrutiny of proposed rate hikes by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, while criticizing the unfunded federal mandate that made the increases necessary.

The County Planning Commission and the Cuyahoga River RAP continue to collaborate on the design of "Green Bulkheads" which will provide aquatic habitat while maintaining shipping lanes along the Cuyahoga River.

Cleveland State will host a forum on high-performance building and development on November 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Fenn Tower. Admission is free, but registration is required.

The Plain Dealer analyzed loan data for the City of Cleveland from 1999 to 2004, and demonstrated the links between the number of home loans from major banks and the number of loans from sub-prime lenders, which correlates with the City's foreclosure epidemic.

In recent renewable energy news:

Following two years of study and discussion, the leaders of the Cuyahoga Valley Communities Council are seeking to convert the nonprofit to a council of governments.

On Tuesday, Brecksville voters approved a planned development overlay district for a senior housing community on Brecksville Road just north of Route 82. Developers need the approval of the City's Planning Commission before they can move forward.

Although the Independence senior housing issue failed to pass again, supporters intend to bring the issue before voters again next year.

Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone will introduce legislation that would rezone a stretch along West 65th Street in the Stockyards neighborhood from general retail to shopping center district, in anticipation of future retail development.

Citing low ridership numbers, RTA decided to reroute the University Circle/Heights Area Community Circulator (route number 821 (PDF)) from Shaker Square to Severance Center, over the strenuous objections of the Shaker Square community.

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority board members and private developers defended their roles in the Forgotten Triangle land deal. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the deal "stinks".

Advocates for converting the Red Brick into an arts center presented the results of a feasibility study to Westlake City Council. The group plans to raise $2.9 million for renovations.

Mayor Sutherland of Bay Village supports the regional tax-sharing plan initiated by the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association, and wants City Council to pass a resolution of support for the principles.

GreenCityBlueLake offers some ideas about preparing a regional plan, which was one of the potential initiatives identified by the Voices & Choices project.

This week's Scene includes a look at the changing racial profile of Euclid and the frictions caused by the demographic shift.

Election recap

Issue 3 (casino gaming): failed

Issue 28 (zoning overlay): passed

Fairview Park
Issue 79 (residential rezoning): passed

Garfield Heights
Issue 80 (commercial rezoning): passed

Issue 89 (senior housing): failed

Maple Heights
Issue 101 (combine planning and zoning commissions): passed

Issue 115 (zoning): passed

Pepper Pike
Issue 118 (limits on residential accessory buildings): passed

Seven Hills
Issue 123 (commercial rezoning): passed

Issue 145 (create greenspace zoning classification): passed
Issue 146 (parks rezoning): passed
Issue 147 (commercial zoning classification addition): passed

Issue 152 (public facilities rezoning): passed

Issue 158 (multi-family rezoning): passed

Summit County
Issue 18 (Metro Parks levy): passed

Medina County
Issue (Park District levy): passed

Issue 18 (referendum zoning): passed

Issues 28 & 30 (greenspace protection): failed

For more results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or

Today's New York Times summarizes the recently completed and upcoming developments in University Circle, and notes the collaborations among area partners. It is accompanied by a slideshow illustrating many of the projects mentioned in the article.

The Plain Dealer explored Pepper Ridge, the first and probably only modernist neighborhood in Ohio. The 65 acre Pepper Pike subdivision was designed by architect Robert Little.

Unhappy with the quality of man-made replacement wetlands, like the those at the Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville, the Ohio EPA proposed new rules that would govern their creation. Comments received indicated that the changes would not be approved by the Ohio General Assembly, so the agency formed an advisory group to look at wetland mitigation rules.

Cleveland City Council approved the expenditure of more than $1 million for repairs to Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Browns anticipate the stadium will need $1.2 million in repairs next year.

The Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations is erecting a new building at Bellflower Road and Hessler Court in University Circle. Construction began in August, and should be completed next August.

A new report from the Brookings Institution on exurbia in the United States says that Ohio, the seventh-largest state by population, has the third-highest number of people living in exurbia. The Cleveland MSA has an exurban population of about 140,000, 6.5% of the area's population.

The City of Solon and Bainbridge Township established a Joint Economic Development District for the area around the Marketplace North shopping center in Bainbridge. The JEDD will allow the communities to split income tax revenues from the shopping center.

The course of the Cuyahoga River has changed significantly due to flooding over the last several years, caused in part by increased development and the loss of wetlands throughout the watershed.

Following the recent Brookings Institution report on Great Lakes collaboration, Neil Peirce penned an editorial arguing that the health of the Great Lakes megaregion is crucial to the future of the United States.

(Via Dave's Blog)

Advocates for constructing wind turbines in Lake Erie are continuing their efforts to dispel negative perceptions related to the structures.

The Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District passed a rule that would prevent landfills in their area from accepting garbage from other Ohio counties if their recycling levels do not match levels in the District. On a related note, refuse imported to Ohio landfills from out-of-state decreased slightly in 2005.

A recent survey found that occupancy of midsized convention centers rose 6% last year with overall occupancy rates of 38%. Advocates for building a new convention center maintain that the report supports their efforts.

A Plain Dealer article reports that some politicians feel that the United States has not had a clear urban policy since the Clinton administration, and that neither Mike DeWine nor Sherrod Brown has addressed the issues facing inner-ring suburbs.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is proposing a smaller rate hike to fund projects for reducing pollution and improving services. The previously proposed rates were cut by 18%.

A meeting was held today to discuss the foreclosure epidemic and impending legislative relief that could stimulate community reinvestment.

The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation is promoting a plan to redraw neighborhood boundaries in the Goodrich-Kirtland Park neighborhood, build a decorative entry gate, and officially rename the area Chinatown or Asiatown.

Architect Craig Cawrse presented a conceptual plan for redevelopment along West Orange Street at a town hall meeting in Chagrin Falls. Village officials envision a primarily residential development with some retail, plus a nearby performing and visual arts district.

The Garfield-Maple Sun provides more details about Issue 80, the proposal to rezone a parcel adjacent to the Speedway station on Turney Road in Garfield Heights from single-family to retail for the construction of a new station and mini-mart.

Development of the Shoppes of Vista Way in Garfield Heights is nearing completion. The stores at the retail strip (PDF) near City View Center are doing very well, according the the developer.

Mayor Ramos and several council members in Independence announced their support of Issue 89, which would allow senior housing in an area off of Stone Road.

The Coral Co., developer for the proposed North Royalton Town Center mixed-use development, is obtaining commitments from retailers for the project, while the City is working to finalize a TIF package before the end of the year.

Strongsville officials hope to obtain a $4 million grant from the Ohio Department of Development to extend Foltz Parkway in the Strongsville Business Park to Boston Road.

Yesterday, CPC planner Rick Sicha led a talk on sacred landmarks and the role of churches in the history of the City of Lakewood.

The Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals approved a rezoning of the Oakpark Motel on Peal Road from office/motel to office/apartments. Councilman Kevin Kelley opposes the rezoning, and asked the board to reconsider its decision.

Demolition of the 170,000 square foot Trinity Building is underway, and should be completed by the end of the year. Cleanup of the six acre site on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland, part of the City's industrial land bank, will cost approximately $2.5 million. At least four companies have expressed an interest in moving to the site.

The Sun Press has more information about the beginning of planning efforts being conducted by the City of Cleveland Heights for the development of the vacant lot at the top of Cedar Hill.

At a hearing yesterday, local businessmen and community representatives offered suggestions for improving the Ohio Department of Transportation's Innerbelt reconstruction plans. The ideas included lowering the speed limit or seeking waivers from the Federal Highway Administration in order to maintain the Carnegie and Prospect exits, and the construction of a parallel central boulevard for local traffic.

(Update: Crain's Cleveland Business also reported about the negative feedback from civic and business leaders.)

Frank Jackson criticized the venture that led to CMHA's purchase of a 25 acre site at Kinsman Road and East 80th Street in the Forgotten Triangle, calling it a "bad deal".

(Update: CMHA Director George Phillips defended the agency's actions, saying, "There was no other land available for us at a size sufficient to move our campus.")

University of Michigan Professor Don Scavia will lead a lead a team that will study the causes of the dead zone in Lake Erie's central basin.

(via Dave's Blog)

The National Park Service is preparing an Environmental Assessment for the rehabilitation or replacement of two bridges in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Fitzwater Truss Bridge over the Cuyahoga River, and Waste Weir Bridge over the Ohio & Erie Canal. Public comments on the project scope and potential impacts will be accepted until December 15.

Cleveland City Council is considering legislation that would establish a University Circle Design District to "safeguard public and community investments in the institutions and parks of the University Circle area, while promoting development of well-designed commercial, residential, and institutional uses in the district." The ordinance would also create a Design Review Advisory Committee of seven to nine members appointed by the City Planning Commission.

The Cuyahoga Community Land Trust will host a conference about Ohio's new anti-predatory lending law on Friday at Trinity Commons from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

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