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December 2006 Archives

Planned renovations to the Capitol Theatre, the construction of a new home for Near West Theatre, and the existing Cleveland Public Theatre will serve as anchors for the Gordon Square Cultural Arts District. Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone calls it Detroit Shoreway's "single most important economic development project" in nearly 90 years.

The West Third Street Lift Bridge in Cleveland, originally scheduled to reopen in June, will likely be open to traffic next week.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Governor Taft to sign the historic preservation tax credit bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly earlier this month.

Solon City Council and Gross Builders have not yet reached a final development agreement for the planned Carrington Court senior housing project on Aurora Road. Gross Builders is also seeking permission to make small alterations to the site plan in order to preserve wetlands.

The City of Brook Park continues to work on the process of establishing three railroad quiet zones. Officials hope to begin upgrading crossings in the spring.

The Berea of Berea and the Berea Municipal Court have been unable to reach an accord on plans for a new home for the Court. Court officials earlier rejected the City's proposal for a $4.5 million addition to City Hall.

The unseasonably warm winter is allowing construction to continue on Fairview Park's Gemini Project. The New Gilles-Sweet school is scheduled to open in fall 2007, and the recreation center should open by the end of 2007.

In the first of a two part series, the Sun News examines the inception of the mixed-use Avenue District development under construction in downtown Cleveland.

The discovery of asbestos in the deck of the Fulton Road Bridge will delay the implosion of the Bridge until February or March.

University Heights City Council unanimously voted to adopt the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. To date, the only other suburbs that have agreed to the plan are Parma Heights and South Euclid.

The City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools continue to squabble over the price of a 41 acre lot on Bradley Road owned by the School District and wanted by the City for recreation programs. The City is offering to pay $1.9 million, while Schools want $3.7 million and have threatened to sell the property to developers if the city won't meet their price.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati awarded $1.2 million in grants to Emerald Development and Economic Network for affordable housing projects. $1 million will go towards the construction of South Point Commons, an $11.3 million supportive housing project planned for West 25th Street near MetroHealth Medical Center.

A USA Today article on the shrinking cities movement includes mentions of initiatives in Cleveland and Youngstown.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is planning a land swap with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association. The Park plans to trade the old Boodey Store across from the Boston Store visitor center for 9.7 acres along the Cuyahoga River in Independence. The undeveloped Independence property would be added to the park, while the CVNPA-operated store would cater to Towpath Trail users. The Park is accepting public comment until January 29.

The January issue of Inside Business includes a profile of Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard.

As the US and Canadian governments conduct their reviews of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Associated Press examined the history of the agreement, and spoke with scientists advocating a proactive approach to address potential threats before they materialize.

In an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, Ohio Senator Tim Grendell explains his reasons for opposing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

While work continues on phase one of the Lakewood City Schools construction project, voters will be asked in May to approve a $30 million bond issue to fund phase two.

The US EPA issued a revised Toxics Release Inventory rule that pleases businesses and angers environmentalists. The old rule required companies to report toxic chemical releases of over 500 pounds per year. Under the new rule, companies can omit reporting the amounts for releases of under 2,000 pounds per year.

The latest US Census Bureau estimates say that Ohio grew by 0.1%, or 7,321 people between July 2005 and July 2006. The low figures reflect the recent trend of slowing growth in Ohio. The fastest-growing states were in the south and west.

The City of Cleveland Heights is working with OneCommunity to provide free wireless Internet access in a pilot area for 18 months. The pilot area will include stretches along Cedar, Coventry, and Mayfield Roads.

Both the Summit County Planning Commission and the Northfield Center Township Zoning Commission voted to reject the proposed rezoning of 51 acres for part of a proposed lifestyle center. Township Trustees are expected to make a final decision on the rezoning request at a public hearing on January 2.

Norfolk Southern and the City of Maple Heights are close to resolving some "peripheral issues" about the planned expansion of the railroad's intermodal facility. However, some broader issues remain unsettled.

Lawyers for the City of Garfield Heights and for residents near Transportation Boulevard are optimistic that they will reach an agreement and avoid eminent domain proceedings. The Bridgeview Crossing shopping center is planned for the 60 acre area.

Problems with the site of the planned new Windsor Hospital in Bedford have led hospital officials to reconsider a 26 acre site on Cochran Road in Glenwillow.

The North Royalton Town Center District Transportation and Pedestrian Linkages Plan has been completed. It recommends $18.8 million dollars in improvements, including a new east-west road connecting Ridge and State Roads.

A $931,000 streetscape improvement project in downtown Berea is slated to begin next month.

The third in a series of four public meetings on Turnpike noise was held last week in Olmsted Falls. The final meeting will be on January 18 in North Royalton City Hall.

Cleveland officials want to demolish the vacant and deteriorating MarshAllan Building on West 85th Street. The 150,000 square foot former factory was built in the 1920s.

EcoCity Cleveland's David Beach shared letters he exchanged with Howard P. Wood, ODOT Deputy Director of Planning about adding a bicycle/pedestrian path to the planned new Innerbelt bridge.

The Ohio General Assembly opted to omit the proposal to allow Summit County to levy a cigarette tax from the state capital budget bill. Developer Paul Garofolo was "frustrated, baffled and confused" about the decision to not support the proposed soccer stadium in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township, but legislators may not have had sufficient information about the proposal.

Details about the Great Lakes Regional Research and Information Network were presented to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission at this morning's quarterly meeting. The new Network is an expanded version of the Lake Erie Millennium Network.

Despite a fire earlier this week and statements from an Ohio EPA official that the company is "acting as an illegal hazardous waste management facility," General Environmental Management's facility in the Cuyahoga Valley remains open.

The Ohio Senate is expected to conclude its session today without voting on the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

(Update: WKSU has more information.)

The City of Avon submitted the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road for NOACA approval. Avon officials say the interchange is necessary to spur commercial and industrial development to shore up a tax base damaged by rapid residential development, while opponents counter that it will simply exacerbate urban sprawl.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial chides the Ohio Senate for sitting on the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact bill, concluding, "The moment has arrived to pass the legislation. Too bad the state Senate has claimed that it cannot find the time."

(Update: an editorial in Toledo's Blade expresses a similar sentiment.)

The Cleveland Foundation's latest round of grants includes $2 million for the construction of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's library and archive (PDF) at the Tri-C Metro campus, $1 million for the Museum of Contemporary Art's new University Circle building, and $525,000 for ShoreBank Enterprise Cleveland's "Investing in Cleveland's East Side Neighborhoods" initiative.

The Village of Hiram and Hiram Township recently embarked on a two year study of transfer of development rights. A TDR program could be used to direct development into the Village while preserving farmland in the Township.

South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to let Mayor Welo settle the Cedar Center eminent-domain court case. Some residents fear that the planned redevelopment of the shopping plaza may force valued tenants out of business.

The Ohio legislature passed a bill that will create a pilot program for a historic preservation tax credit. If signed by Governor Taft, up to 100 rehabilitation projects in each of the next two years will be eligible for a 25% tax credit.

Five Summit County communities are working on a plan to build a $10 million, 13 mile trail that would connect Hudson to Akron along a railroad right-of-way.

The Plain Dealer followed up on the Brookings Institution's report on poverty trends by mapping calls to the United Way's 211/First Call For Help hotline from Cuyahoga and Lake Counties by ZIP code.

The Lorain County Growth Partnership is attempting to foster communications among its partners by providing space for them in the Lorain County Administration Building.

The abandoned historic former Coast Guard station on Whiskey Island continues to deteriorate, and the lack of upkeep is threatening the integrity of the concrete structure.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the Wolstein Group's request to demolish eight buildings for the planned Flats east bank development. The owners of other Flats properties intend to seek a court order to delay next month's demolitions.

Mayor Currin of Hudson, chairman of the seven county Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, wants to form a committee that will offer recommendations about regional tax sharing.

The City of South Euclid reached a verbal agreement to purchase the north side of Cedar Center from the shopping center's seven owners. If finalized, the deal will avert an eminent domain struggle. City officials are in talks with three developers interested in redeveloping the site, and expect to select one within a month.

Some members of the Ohio Senate continue to oppose approval of the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The bill, approved by the Ohio House last week, is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

The renovation of an old lighting factory on Rockwell Avenue in Cleveland was one of 18 projects in Ohio selected for Job Ready Sites funding. The $29 million project will receive $2.5 million from the state. Plans call for demolishing a 125,000 square foot building, building a 90,000 square foot technology center, and repairing a 150,000 square foot building.

WKSU reports on the efforts of the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force to begin work on building a demonstration wind farm in Lake Erie, which would be the world's first freshwater wind farm. The Task Force yesterday unanimously recommended hiring a consultant to determine of the project is technically and financially feasible.

Adam Wasserman, CEO of Citybuild in Yorkshire, England, will succeed Gary Failor as president of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. He is expected to begin on February 12.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more information.)

James Seney of Road to Work Ohio enumerates the potential benefits of leasing the Ohio Turnpike, saying it "could be just the jolt our battered economy needs to recover its footing."

While the #821 community circulator no longer serves Shaker Square, RTA created the new #823 community circulator to link Shaker Square to Coventry Road. Shaker Square Area Development Corp. officials are still not satisfied with the change.

The concrete base of the Langerdale Retention Basin in South Euclid will be replaced by wetlands, making it the first urban marsh for storm retention management in Northeast Ohio. The $1.3 million project will create 15.5 acres of wetlands.

Cleveland City Council rezoned a stretch of the west side of West 65th Street from general retail to shopping center district. A study that will identify redevelopment options for the area will be completed in February or March.

Brooklyn City Council unanimously approved a series of changes to the City's zoning code. They included updates of the sections on commercial and industrial lot coverages and residential accessory uses. Because of another change, decisions made by the Zoning Board of Appeals will be final.

Westlake officials are pleased with the plans for an indoor ice rink on Viking Parkway.

Plans for a railroad quiet zone in Rocky River have been delayed because of confusion over the content of a letter the City must send to rail officials.

By a vote of 3-2, the Olmsted Falls Planning Commission rejected a proposed rezoning for an office building at the intersection of Lewis and Bagley Roads. City Council will review the recommendation within the next 30 days.

Supporters of the Tri-City Senior Center submitted their initiative petition for the creation of a taxing district. If the Board of Elections deems the signatures valid, Berea and Brook Park will hold special elections in May.

The Friends of the Chippewa Creek are challenging one of the projects recommended for funding by the Cuyahoga County Natural Resources Assistance Council with the hope that money slated for the West Creek area would instead be used to preserve the Chippewa Creek watershed.

The City of Brooklyn Heights is applying to the US EPA for a Brownfields Assessment Grant for the analysis of a portion of the 200 acres in the north end of the Village. An assessment would be used to guide the development of the area.

Yesterday, the Ohio House endorsed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The agreement has not been approved by the Ohio Senate, where Tim Grendell is attempting to derail it. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Senate to pass the bill, saying that "the legislature must not rewrite this delicate agreement."

In an editorial titled "Hey, slow down", the Akron Beacon Journal urges Ohio legislators to allow more time for appropriate scrutiny of the proposals for a Summit County soccer stadium and cigarette tax.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition's Out of Reach 2006 report says that Ohio workers need to earn $12.31 per hour to afford renting a two-bedroom apartment, but the average Ohio renter makes $10.81 per hour. In the Cleveland MSA, workers must make $13.50 to afford the rent, but earn an average of $11.57 per hour.

The City of Garfield Heights has filed 12 eminent domain lawsuits against owners of homes on the site of the planned Bridgeview Crossing shopping center. Garfield Heights voters rezoned the area (PDFs) near City View Center from residential to general business in 2004.

The Ohio House did not add the Summit County cigarette tax to their budget bill, but the Ohio Senate is currently considering it. Revenue from the tax would fund the proposed soccer stadium in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township. The weblogs Psychobilly Democrat and The Boring Made Dull offer commentary and share analysis of the stadium plans.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Revision has begun hearing foreclosure cases on tax-delinquent abandoned homes and vacant lots. The Board is handling the cases because of an Ohio law that took effect in September designed to bypass the foreclosure backlog.

Visconsi Companies has expressed an interest in redeveloping the PMX site on East 260th Street in Euclid as retail. The company has an option to purchase the 83 acre property.

(Update: The Euclid Sun Journal presents additional details.)

The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland is researching and promoting plans for a Cleveland medical mart. The concept will likely be linked to the proposals for a new convention center.

The City of Cleveland will guarantee $250,000 in loans from local banks to businesses along Euclid Avenue that have been negatively impacted by the construction of the Euclid Corridor project. Some storeowners feel that the aid is too little and too late.

WCPN provides an update on the status of Steelyard Commons construction. The first stores in the Cleveland shopping center are scheduled to open in February.

Cleveland City Council approved modifications to the City's sign ordinance regarding the installation of billboard-like wall murals downtown and in the Flats.

David Beach points out that a recent New York Times article on surfing in Lake Erie is "an example of how much Cleveland's image depends on the quality of the lakefront and the environment."

Work has begun on a $2 million restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square. Plans call for installing air conditioning and restoring the interior to its original splendor.

Developers of the proposed soccer stadium complex in Summit County and officials in Wadsworth both hope to lure a Cabela's store to Northeast Ohio.

State Senator Tim Grendell has held up the Ohio General Assembly's endorsement of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact over his concerns about private property rights. Supporters of the agreement compared Grendell's objections to conspiracy theories.

In anticipation of this evening's screening of the documentary Cleveland: Confronting Decline in an American City, this morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the film with Armando Carbonell of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison, attorney Hilary Taylor, and developer Robert Stark.

Paul Garofolo, one of the developers of the proposed soccer stadium, says that it will "create a $10 billion economic impact" in northern Summit County. A Plain Dealer editorial calls for an independent analysis of the proposal due to the request for substantial public investment in the project.

A Plain Dealer editorial notes that Cleveland City Council has begun to oversee enforcement of the City's community reinvestment banking laws.

RealNEO summarizes the panel discussion on affordable high-performance housing that was held last week at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

In addition to investigating the Forgotten Triangle land deal between CMHA and developer Todd Davis, federal officials are also looking at an earlier sale of land at East 119th Street and Coltman Road in Little Italy involving both parties.

The Wolstein Group is scheduled to seek approval from the Cleveland City Planning Commission on Friday to demolish eight buildings on Old River Road for its planned Flats east bank development.

Sunday's Plain Dealer included an interview with Scott Wolstein that touched on his work at Developers Diversified and his plans for redeveloping the Flats. Video of the interview is also available as a RealMedia stream.

Ohio legislators indicated that they will consider a bill that would permit Summit County officials to impose a cigarette tax without voter approval. The tax would raise an estimated $7 million per year for the proposed soccer stadium in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District again delayed a vote on proposed sewer rate increases, postponing the decision until January 18. Some municipal leaders oppose the increase, and some support it.

Leaders in Broadview Heights are contemplating rejoining the Cuyahoga Urban County CDBG program in order to allow residents to access low-interest loans.

The Senior Coalition in Independence is working to return senior housing to the ballot in November 2007. Voters rejected the issue by 275 votes in November, which was the closest margin to date.

Officials in Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township hope that the Olmsted Business Park will be among the projects selected for Ohio Job Ready Sites funding.

North Olmsted City Council is considering a plan to rezone 25 parcels along the north side of Bradley Road to a new residential-office classification. The City's 2005 master plan called for rezoning the area to residential, and City Council rejected a proposal for cluster homes in April.

Developers of a proposed assisted living facility near Ridge Park Square in Brooklyn owe more than $100,000 in back property taxes on the property.

Zaremba Homes will replace Mesirow Financial Real Estate as a developer of CWRU's Arts and Retail District, in partnership with the University and MRN Ltd.

As part of the Countryside Initiative, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy are accepting proposals for leases on the Garvey Farm in Peninsula and the Grether Farm in Akron.

"Two Steps Back: City and Suburban Poverty Trends 1999-2005", a new report from the Brookings Institution, says that suburban poverty is a growing nationwide problem. Data from last year shows that, for the first time, the suburban poor outnumbered the urban poor in the United States. Greater Cleveland displayed one of the fastest growth rates of suburban poverty, increasing from 6.3% in 1999 to 9.2% in 2005.

Voices & Choices posted their Northeast Ohio Citizens Speak Final Report, the final overview of the citizen interviews they conducted from August 2005 through May 2006.

The Plain Dealer considers the past and present of Randall Park Mall in North Randall.

The documentary Making Sense of Place, Cleveland: Confronting Decline in an American City will be shown at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Monday at 6:00 p.m. A panel discussion will be held following the film.

Today's Plain Dealer has more information about the rankings by the Cuyahoga County Natural Resources Assistance Council and the low score received by the proposed Chippewa Creek Preserve in North Royalton.

The Wal-Mart at City View Center was forced to close on Tuesday because of a methane leak from the landfill upon which the store was built. The Garfield Heights store reopened at noon today.

The capital budget bill before the Ohio House contains funding for local projects, including $6.75 million in Cultural Facilities Commission projects, $1 million for the Flats east bank development, more than $17 million for Cleveland State University (including $10 million for a new College of Education building and $400,000 for a wind turbine prototype), and $1.9 million for the Towpath Trail.

This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN examined municipal home rule issues, with guests CWRU professor Jonathan Entin and Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Thomas Mulready tours the URS Cleveland Office in the Idea Center at Playhouse Square with architect Christopher Diehl: Windows Media (22.9 MB), Quicktime (15.7 MB).

Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer reviews the history of defunct professional soccer teams in Northeast Ohio and says that public financing of the proposed soccer stadium in Summit County would be a boondoggle. Ohio officials blocked e-mail from proponents of the project after they spammed state leaders with more than more than 420,000 messages.

The Ohio General Assembly is expected to endorse the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today, which would make it the first state legislature to do so. This morning's The Sound of Ideas on WCPN explored the issue of Great Lakes water diversions.

While advocates continue to promote Cleveland as a viable location for generating wind power and manufacturing wind turbines, Ohio has been slow to act on incentives that would promote the industry.

The Ohio General Assembly has in recent years passed bills negating local laws on a variety of topics, including natural gas wells, predatory lending, and residency requirements. Some view this as an attack on municipal home rule (PDF). The legislature may vote on a bill that would place an eminent domain amendment on the ballot next fall, though some reports say they may not have time to consider the issue this year.

Presenters at the recent forum on high-performance building highlighted its practical environmental and economic benefits.

The Summit County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly supports plans to build a soccer stadium and surrounding developments in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township, as does Summit County Executive James McCarthy.

Obsolete retail centers continue to trouble leaders in South Euclid. Plans to redevelop the City's half of Cedar Center remain a contentious issue, and are entangled in an eminent domain dispute. The shopping center at the northeast corner of Mayfield and Green Roads poses similar challenges to redevelopment.

Frank Jackson appointed former Cleveland Planning Director Norman Krumholz to the seven-member Cleveland City Planning Commission. He will replace Sam Small, who is finishing a six-year term.

Don Chen, founder and Executive Director of Smart Growth America, will give a talk titled "Post Election Report: What is the Future of Smart Growth in America? " at Cleveland State University's College of Urban Affairs on Friday, December 15 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

(via Greater Ohio)

Dru McKeown prepared a series of conceptual renderings that demonstrate ways that the distinctive concrete facade panels of the Breuer Tower could be reused, should it be torn down. His examples include bus shelters and a variety of street furniture.

The owners of the Park Building on Public Square want to convert the historic office building to 26 condominiums and add a penthouse, while retaining its first floor retail. They also want to convert the first two floors of the the adjoining Southworth Building to parking.

Although the proposed Chippewa Creek preserve was not among this year's Cuyahoga County Natural Resources Assistance Council funding recommendations, the Friends of Chippewa Creek remain determined to preserve the area.

The City of Garfield Heights and the Cleveland Metroparks are planning trails to connect Mill Creek Falls and the Garfield Park Reservation to the Towpath Trail. Mayor Longo envisions additional trails in the City's future.

Developers hope to build an office building and bank on a 3.4 acre site at the intersection of Lewis and Bagley Roads in Olmsted Falls. The project requires a rezoning to move forward, and the City's Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the request at their meeting tomorrow evening.

Members of a Lake Road stakeholder group will meet with consultants and city officials to discuss their vision for the Rocky River corridor. A public meeting to gather feedback from residents will be held at the end of January.

The proposed 20,000 seat soccer stadium on a 450 acre site in northern Summit County would also include two retail developments (a 425,000 square foot lifestyle center and a rumored 250,000 square foot Cabela's store), a medical complex, at least one hotel, and up to 15 restaurants. Developers want $14 million in construction funds from the state and permission to levy a cigarette tax, which would raise an estimated $7 million annually (of which $1 million per year would be used to fund arts and culture projects) for 30 years. They hope to break ground in spring 2007 and open the facility in 2009.

(Note: yesterday's Plain Dealer reported that the tax would raise a total of $7 million. Today's Akron Beacon Journal says that it would raise $6 million per year, for a total of $180 million over 30 years.)

The Design Rag comments on the recent removal of mature trees from the median of East 12th Street in downtown Cleveland, calling it "an exercise in over-planning". The medians are being removed as part of streetscape improvements for the Avenue District development.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners will seek $750,000 in grants from the state Clean Ohio program to assist in the development of the Ferchill Group's plans to build 88 houses on the Scranton Peninsula.

The planned widening of I-77 that is scheduled to begin in 2008 will include the construction of noise barriers in Brecksville.

Mother Jones explores the effects of the foreclosure crisis on Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood.

(via Working With Words)

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