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January 2007 Archives

Some residents of the area slated for redevelopment as the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights feel that developer Snider-Cannata Interests has not treated them fairly. Eminent domain cases are scheduled to be heard next Wednesday.

On February 14, NOACA will host the first in a series of APA web conferences. The session on complete streets is free to APA members and $5 for non-members. Additional web conferences will be held in March, April, and May.

Roldo Bartimole is skeptical about Mayor Jackson's plans for Cleveland, and also writes about tax abatement, Gateway loan repayments, and bicycle planning.

Angela Glover Blackwell, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink, will speak at the City Club on February 23 about equitable development.

On Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, Frank Jackson shared his thoughts on the Cleveland redevelopment strategy, capital improvement plan, and tax abatement policy. Also appearing on the show were Becky Gaylord of the Plain Dealer, Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business, and Ward 11 Councilman Mike Polensek.

From 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on February 22, the CSU Levin College of Urban Affairs will host a forum on RTA's transit oriented development planning efforts.

RE:New, a new program from AIA Cleveland and the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, will assist local governments and organizations with urban design and planning projects. Proposals are due on February 16.

(Update: an application form (PDF) is now online)

Some Mayfield Heights residents are opposed to a plan to build a cell tower at Acacia Park Cemetery on SOM Center Road. The proposed 140 foot tall tower would be disguised as a flagpole.

Steven Litt reviews Bostwick Design Partnership's plans for a new entry pavilion for the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at CSU, and says "the new main entrance will go a long way toward giving the existing one a new identity." Construction of the $8.8 million modernist project is scheduled to begin in April.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Cleveland City Council to maintain its current tax abatement rules. Meanwhile, officials in Parma are trying to obtain financial compensation from a company that reneged on a tax abatement agreement by closing.

Preservationists are concerned that a recently sold house on Lake Avenue in Bay Village could be demolished. The demolition of one of the City's oldest homes could mark the start a teardown trend.

Although the planned expansion of Cleveland Hopkins Airport has yet to begin, the Brook Park neighborhood on the site of the expansion area is mostly empty today. Cleveland officials pledge to continue the $36 million residential buyout program.

A Plain Dealer editorial refers to Frank Jackson's new capital improvement plan as "a down payment on a huge, long-term investment," and says he will have to convince people that the plan is worthwhile.

On Friday, Hillcrest Hospital announced plans for a $163 million expansion and renovation of its campus at Mayfield and SOM Center Roads in Mayfield Heights. The five year project includes plans for a new 72-bed tower and an enlarged emergency and trauma area.

The Avon Planning Commission approved a general development plan for the 36 acre Avon Crossing shopping center at State Route 83 and Chester Road. It's slated to be anchored by a Lowe's and an unnamed 100,000 square foot store.

(via Urban Ohio)

The first annual Cleveland Design Competition officially launched today. The initial competition will focus on designs for the Irishtown Bend area on the Cuyahoga River's west bank. The registration deadline is April 16, and the submission deadline is May 1. Updates will be available via the Competition's weblog.

Cleveland residents at last night's West Shoreway meeting expressed a desire to maintain the five-way intersection at West Boulevard and Lake Avenue. An Ohio Department of Transportation advisory committee will review the ramp options and will make a recommendation.

Steelyard Drive in Cleveland opened to traffic yesterday. The first store at Steelyard Commons, a Home Depot, will hold its grand opening on Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County's first straw bale home is under construction on Cedar Road near Norfolk Road in Cleveland Heights. Volunteers are helping to build the bungalow designed by the firm of Doty & Miller. At today's energy costs, the insulation should pay for itself in seven to ten years.

Some South Euclid residents continue to advocate for a citywide vote on plans to introduce point-of-sale exterior home inspections. A City Council committee is reviewing the legislation, but was cold to the idea of a ballot issue.

Plans for the Collinwood Recreation Center suffered a setback when funding for the project did not appear in Mayor Jackson's new capital improvement plan until 2010. The former Big Lots store purchased by the City may or may not be redeveloped as the recreation center, which will be "in either Ward 10 or Ward 11."

North Olmsted City Council voted to rezone 17 parcels on Bradley Road from limited industrial to residential. Some residents and business owners object to the decision, but Council members said that it's best for the future of the area.

Leaders in Olmsted Falls are apprehensive about adopting the City of Cleveland's water service/no poaching agreement, and are considering a switch to the Rural Lorain County Water Authority.

Supporters of the Tri-City Senior Center report that they gathered enough signatures for their initiative petition to appear on the May ballot in Berea and Brook Park. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the creation of a joint taxing district for the Center.

Consultants working on the Western Lorain Road Corridor Planning Study in Fairview Park say the street has a diverse mix of uses and recommend making it more pedestrian friendly.

At the last of four public meetings, Turnpike officials, local leaders, and residents discussed the noise, flooding, and pollution generated by the Ohio Turnpike. Turnpike officials pledged to meet with community leaders within two months to discuss possible solutions.

As part of their stormwater management program, the City of Broadview Heights will begin requiring inspections of retention basins to make sure they are working properly.

On Sunday, architect Jonathan Sandvick made a presentation about the potential for adaptive reuse of the closed Ivex Paper Mill in Chagrin Falls. The Village formed an ad hoc committee to study its possible reuse, and developers may be interested in rehabilitating the 147 year old building. It will discussed at a public meeting on January 29 at Chagrin Falls Township Hall, where plans for the redevelopment of the Windsor Hospital site will also be unveiled.

At this evening's West Shoreway public meeting, Ohio Department of Transportation officials and west side Cleveland residents will discuss the disputed plans for the ramps at Lake Avenue and Clifton Boulevard.

Yesterday, workers placed a 65 foot long pedestrian bridge over the Ohio & Erie Canal near Lock 2 Park in Akron. When completed, it will form part of a Towpath Trail loop around downtown Akron.

The Medina County Park District secured a $1.2 million loan that will enable them to purchase the 360 acre Chippewa Lake. The acquisition does not include the former amusement park, which remains up for sale.

(via Urban Ohio)

Several residential developers strongly urged the Cleveland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee to not alter the City's tax abatement policy. The current tax abatement ordinance will expire on June 15.

An Ohio Department of Natural Resources biologist raised objections to the proposed Lake Erie wind turbines, citing concerns about their impacts on migratory birds. The Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force is reviewing research on the environmental effects of the turbines.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

Security Self Storage Ltd. plans to build a drive-through self storage facility on five acres at Bradley and Clemens Roads in Westlake, modeled after Elmwood Self Storage & Wine Cellar near New Orleans. It's scheduled to break ground in April, and the first units should open in November.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes a video interview with Dan Cuffaro and Ned Hill about their concept for the Cleveland District of Design: QuickTime (17.8 MB), Windows Media (25.8 MB).

Frank Jackson unveiled his redevelopment priorities at a press conference yesterday, where he released a Strategy for Development and Revitalization and a $1.6 billion capital improvement plan. The documents identify specific recommendations for each of Cleveland's 36 neighborhoods, including rehabilitating or demolishing abandoned houses, adding bicycle lanes, building a pedestrian bridge at North Coast Harbor, and reconfiguring the traffic circle at East 105th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The entire Strategy (PDF, 10.8 MB), an executive summary (PDF), and the Capital Projects Database (PDF) are posted at the City's website. Audio (MP3) and video of the press conference are available.

The first portion of this morning's installment of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the proposed Greater Cleveland sewer rate increases, with NEORSD Executive Director Erwin Odeal and EcoCity Cleveland Director David Beach.

The cover story in the current issue of Science Weekly examines the correlations between urban sprawl and obesity, and considers several studies conducted over the past few years that looked at walkability and health concerns.

(via Boing Boing)

On Friday, ODOT Innerbelt Project Manager Craig Hebebrand presented Innerbelt planning updates to the Cleveland City Planning Commission. Some members offered support for a proposed bicycle/pedestrian lane on the Innerbelt Bridge, but the Commission did not vote on the issue. ODOT will hold a public open house on Thursday, February 1, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Tremont.

Developer John Carney has come under criticism for his dual roles as a downtown property owner and as chairman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Although Port Authority board members are not required to file financial disclosure statements, Carney has recused himself from voting on Flats east bank eminent domain decisions in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Berea officials are pursuing several tactics for improving the quality of the City's housing stock. They have instituted home inspections, formed a community development corporation, and are considering a residential land bank program and residential tax abatements.

In the wake of a recent rash of burglaries, University Heights leaders and residents are reactivating the City's dormant neighborhood watch program.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District board once again delayed voting on proposed rate increases. They postponed the vote until their February 1 meeting.

Developers of the Terraces at Meadowbrook (the project formerly known as Domain on Lee) will unveil their designs for the mixed-use development on Tuesday evening at Cleveland Heights City Hall. The $25.7 million project in the Cedar-Lee district will include condominiums, retail, and a parking garage.

The City of Garfield Heights is suing homebuilder Ameri-Con Homes because the company has been slow to clean up debris and finish common areas in its Valley Ranch subdivision near Turney Road.

The West Third Street Lift Bridge in the Flats was reopened to traffic yesterday, but will be closed for another three months once the weather is warm enough for painting.

Last month, the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission designated the Community of Living Hope church on Caledonia Avenue as a Cleveland Heights Landmark.

After opting not to hire an economic development officer, North Olmsted City Council is considering contracting with an economic development firm to supply consulting services.

Conversion of the Park Building on Public Square to 27 condominiums will begin next month. The first units in the 102 year old downtown Cleveland building will be ready for occupancy this summer.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is scheduled to hold a twice-delayed vote today on proposed rate increases. Over the next five years, the proposal calls for average increases of 59% for Cleveland residents and 47% for suburban residents.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will host a public meeting (PDF) where Cudell and Edgewater residents can discuss design options associated with the planned West Shoreway redesign. It will be held at St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church on January 25 starting at 5:00.

In this week's Free Times, Michael Gill examines the efforts to get ODOT to consider a bicycle lane for their planned new Innerbelt Bridge. ODOT officials have not been receptive to the proposal. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial urges ODOT to be more flexible in their Innerbelt planning and calls for a brief cooling off period.

RTA will begin deploying a new fare collection system starting early next year. The $23 million upgrade (PDF) will include nearly 800 replacement fare boxes, and beginning in summer 2008, a new proof-of-payment system for the Red Line rapid and the Euclid Corridor Silver Line.

Yesterday marked the launch of OhioRideshare, a website dedicated to connecting commuters with potential carpool partners (PDF). The site serves 13 Northeast Ohio counties and is a joint project of NOACA, AMATS, and the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord assesses the impacts of the Ohio foreclosure crisis on Greater Cleveland's economy. Predatory lending and foreclosures have resulted in significant expenses for local governments, reduced property values, abandoned homes, and can drive residents from cities.

Cool Cleveland's George Nemeth interviewed the three founders of Sustainable Community Associates about their Oberlin development, their backgrounds, and their philosophies.

Cleveland City Council members sparred with ODOT Innerbelt Project Manager Craig Hebebrand in a 2½ hour public hearing on Wednesday. ODOT remains firm in their plans to close entrance ramps, despite statements from businesses that the closures would force them to move. It is not known if the changes in ODOT leadership will affect the plans. ODOT officials will meet with the Cleveland City Planning Commission next week and will hold a public meeting in Tremont on February 1.

Toxic waste runoff from the closed Boyas landfill in Garfield Heights, now the site of the recently sold City View Center, may be the source of cancer among residents in a downstream Valley View neighborhood.

Next month, the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force will recommend the construction of a Lake Erie wind turbine demonstration project. It would consist of four to ten turbines located at least three miles offshore. In an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, Amy Gomberg of Environment Ohio urges Ohio leaders to pursue wind power initiatives.

(Update: Channel 3 posted a video interview with Task Force Chair Bill Mason.)

Rural Boston Heights in Summit County has become very attractive to retail developers, and Village leaders are dealing with proposals for two major retail centers near the intersection of the Ohio Turnpike and State Route 8. The site of the proposed Summit County soccer stadium/retail development is also nearby.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that once again, Ohio posted the nation's highest forclosure rate, with 3.32% of houses in the state in foreclosure, up slightly from last year. The national average was 1.05%.

The City of Euclid must better market itself for the planned Harbor Town project to succeed, say developers. City officials and developers were counting on federal funds that have not yet materialized to support the development. They are holding private meetings to develop a new strategy.

South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to issue up to $17 million in bonds for the purchase of the north side of Cedar Center. Some storeowners remain opposed to deal, and the City is continuing to negotiate with developers.

Developers of the Stonebridge project on the west bank of the Flats say that they would not be interested in building in Cleveland if the City withdrew its residential tax abatement policy. They hope to hope to begin construction of the development's next phase this spring.

Proposed funding reductions for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would result in major budget cuts for Ohio public housing agencies. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is projecting budget cuts of $3.8 million to $6.8 million, and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority would have to cut $4.5 million. Mayor Plusquellic of Akron is in Washington to lobby on behalf of cities against the cuts.

The Parma School Board did not vote on a tax increment financing package for the planned Rockside Terrace development, disappointing the project's developers. Seven Hills City Council unanimously approved the agreement at a special meeting on December 31.

Fairview Park officials and consultants will gather public input for the Western Lorain Road Corridor Planning Study at a meeting on January 24 at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall. The Study will include recommendations for streetscape improvements, and should be completed by May.

In Independence, the Downtown Master Plan Task Force (PDF) submitted a draft plan to municipal leaders for review. City Council and the Planning Commission will hold a joint work session to discuss the plan's recommendations.

The initiative petitions for the Tri-City Senior Center ballot issues were short 38 signatures in Brook Park and 108 in Berea. Advocates for the Center have 10 days to collect the needed signatures.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded $9,999 to Cleveland State University to study transfer of development rights in Northeast Ohio.

Northfield Center Township Trustees unanimously voted to deny a rezoning request for a 51 acre site at Twinsburg Road near State Route 8. Developers want to use the property and an additional 150 acres in Boston Heights for a mixed-use lifestyle center. They may ask Boston Heights to annex the land.

Peak Resorts Inc., owner of Brandywine Ski Resort in Sagamore Hills, purchased the adjacent closed Dover Lake Waterpark. They "plan to use the park for winter operations," and do not intend to reopen it as a waterpark.

In June, the Maple Heights Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals will be combined into a new Planning and Zoning Board as the result of a charter amendment approved by voters in November.

Hoping to encourage the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools to reach an accord about the future of the athletic fields on Bradley Road, a group of citizens wants the property to be rezoned for recreational use only.

For the fourth straight year, ridership on RTA lines increased. Despite fare increases, system-wide ridership grew by 0.3%, and ridership on the light rail Green and Blue Lines was up 5.1%.

The landmark Euclid Beach Park Gateway Arch in Cleveland was seriously damaged early this morning by a hit-and-run driver.

Visconsi Companies plans to build The Plaza at SouthPark, a 300,000 square foot retail center on 53 acres at I-71 and Royalton Road in Strongsville, across the street from SouthPark mall. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting about its potential impacts on water quality on January 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Strongsville Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.


Amidst calls for reform of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Governor Strickland will replace all 12 district directors who served under the Taft administration, including District 12 Director David Coyle. ODOT Director Gordon Proctor also resigned.

Businesses in Midtown Cleveland are mounting "an 11th-hour push" in their efforts to get the Ohio Department of Transportation to modify their plans for the Innerbelt trench. Business leaders maintain that closing exits would create "serious problems", while ODOT officials assert that they must be closed to improve safety. This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the controversy with Tom Bier of CSU, Tom Breckenridge of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Jim Haviland of MidTown Cleveland, and Craig Hebebrand of ODOT.

ODOT also announced that the price of their Innerbelt Bridge design has risen to $393 million from an earlier estimate of $334 million.

Yesterday's Plain Dealer included a summary of the many for-sale housing projects under construction or planned for downtown Cleveland. The projects could add an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 units to the downtown housing stock.

The Akron Beacon Journal toured the Charter One Global Enterprise Center in downtown Cleveland and spoke with the leaders of some of the economic development organizations it houses.

Some people in Northeast Ohio are leery of Maharishi's plans to build Peace Palaces in Brecksville, Mayfield Heights, Parma, and Strongsville because of poor experiences with properties he formerly owned in North Randall and Avon Lake.

Geis Companies purchased 212 acres at Cochran and Pettibone Roads in Glenwillow from Browning-Ferris Industries for $4.3 million, where they plan to build an industrial park with a mix of industrial, office, and light manufacturing tenants.

Municipal and nonprofit officials in Cleveland are pleased by the creation of the University Circle Design District. It should create increased transparency in the design process and allow greater public oversight.

The Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization has launched a new website. It includes information about their three main programs, the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan, the Cuyahoga American Heritage River Initiative, and CLEERTEC, as well as other information, including presentations from the Cuyahoga River Connections symposium held in October.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

Cleveland officials hope to begin construction of the Collinwood Recreation Center in 2007. Detailed design work should start this spring, a contractor may be selected this summer, and construction could start before the year ends.

The second article in the Sun News's two-part series on the Avenue District examines how the mixed-use development fits in with and influences other downtown developments.

The Quad Building at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland is being razed. Demolition of the building built between 1914 and 1930 is expected to be completed in April. The 2.86 acre site will be used as landscaped open space.

In an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, Kristy Meyer of the Ohio Environmental Council and Larry Mitchell of the League of Ohio Sportsmen present many reasons to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

Yesterday, Ohio Citizen Action released Smoke and Mirrors (MS Word, 4 MB), a report accusing Mittal Steel of failing to accurately disclose the emissions from its Cleveland mill. Mittal officials countered that the plant meets federal regulations and employs standard reporting methodologies.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors marked the start of a crackdown on mortgage fraud and predatory lending with a grand jury indictment of 59 defendants on charges of racketeering, forgery, and theft. Another 11 were indicted today.

(Update: The Plain Dealer published another story and an editorial on the subject.)

Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced (PDF) that it intends to build a single tower cable stay bridge parallel to the existing Innerbelt Bridge to carry westbound Innerbelt traffic.

(via Cleveland vs. The World)

Governor Taft signed House Bill 149, enacting the historic preservation tax credit passed by the Ohio General Assembly last month. It will go into effect in 90 days.

A Plain Dealer editorial offers encouragement for Mayor Currin of Hudson's call for a regional tax sharing plan, calling it a "commendable and courageous step to try to ensure long-term economic health for all of Northeast Ohio."

Last summer's series of floods in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties prompted area leaders to cooperate in developing riparian setback requirements, flood prevention techniques, and in purchasing properties within flood plains.

The Plain Dealer examined how the Ohio Department of Transportation is spending the funds raised by the gas tax increase of 2003, and looked back at how the tax was approved and the agency's relationship with contractors. A 2005 three part series in the Toledo Blade explored concerns that a pay-to-play culture exists within ODOT.

Cleveland City Council is expected to consider scaling back the City's residential tax abatement program in June. Developers of some proposed projects reached agreements with the City which would allow them to retain the current 15 year, 100% abatements if the program is changed.

A NOACA task force and committee have begun studying recommendations for reducing fine particle pollution levels. The recommendations will be incorporated into the Ohio EPA's plan to meet new federal standards.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt looks back at 2006 in art, architecture, and urban design. He also provides updates on the status of some projects, including the Little Italy rapid station and the fate of the Breuer tower in downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland City Council established the proposed University Circle Design District. City Council also enacted an emergency ordinance that alters the procedure for designating city landmarks and landmark districts. Both changes became effective on December 15.

Voices & Choices published their Report on the Public's Priorities for Northeast Ohio's Future (PDF), a summary of the program's process of identifying regional priorities and actions.

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