A new report (PDF) from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State concluded that the City of Cleveland's residential tax abatement program is increasing Cleveland's population and tax base. Dean Mark Rosentraub says that the program is working and should be retained. This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the subject with Rosentraub, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Nate Coffman of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.
February 2007 Archives
28 February 2007
Willoughby Hills residents and politicians are opposed to an expansion of the Cuyahoga County Airport that may be proposed in the master plan currently being conducted. Willoughby Hills City Council recently hired attorney David Zoll to help fight any expansion.
(Update: The News-Herald provides additional details.)
LakewoodAlive will host a forum on the idea of a Lakewood arts district on March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Beck Center Armory. The panelists will be Art Falco of the Playhouse Square Association, Tom Schorgl of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, Daniel Cuffaro of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and Kathleen Cerveny of the Cleveland Foundation.
The City of Cleveland will reallocate its deposits among area banks based on City-assigned rankings of how well they meet the needs of residents and businesses. The rankings will be used for one year.
27 February 2007
Cuyahoga County may sell the 435 acre Youth Development Center in Hudson. The property was recently appraised at $15 million. Some judges and juvenile justice advocates are concerned about the fate of the approximately 200 children housed at the center.
Because there are wetlands on the Solon property previously identified for baseball and multi-purpose fields, City and Solon City Schools officials may create them behind Solon Middle School and split the cost.
26 February 2007
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park does not support the proposed retail and residential development on the site of the former Boston Hills Country Club, because it would cause increased flooding, erosion, and sedimentation problems along Brandywine Creek, and also create traffic congestion, ruin the area's rural character, and degrade the National Park.
The City Club has posted the audio of Angela Glover Blackwell's talk (MP3, 19.8 MB) about equitable development on Friday. Earlier this month, PolicyLink issued Shared Prosperity, Stronger Regions: An Agenda for Rebuilding America's Older Core Cities, a report that examined innovative programs in five cities, including Cleveland.
On Friday, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled against the City of Cleveland's residency requirement for municipal employees, saying it was trumped by a state law passed last year. The City will appeal the decision.
(Update: the Cleveland Law Library posted Judge Corrigan's opinion)
The Earth Day Network released an environmental report card that used over 200 indicators to compare US cities. Of the 72 rated cities, Cleveland was ranked 70th, and had the worst air quality score in the country.
State Senator Tim Grendell says he will introduce a bill that calls for a joint legislative task force to study the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact for the rest of 2007, which would delay a vote on the agreement until at least 2008. The Ohio House passed enabling legislation in December, but the Ohio Senate never voted on the measure. Members of both chambers plan to reintroduce bills this year.
23 February 2007
North Royalton activists were unable to obtain a grant to create the proposed Chippewa Creek Preserve, so the North Royalton Board of Education sold the 10 acres to Zillich Homes for $285,000 and 3 acres of land.
University Circle Incorporated is planning Bring Back Euclid Avenue, an initiative intended to compliment Euclid Corridor improvements by adding new signs, a visitors center, decorative lighting, and other streetscape improvements. They have already raised half of $7 million needed for the project.
The Lake County Commissioners yesterday voted to create a port authority for the County. It will exclude the four Lake County communities that had previously established their own port authorities.
In an editorial, the Plain Dealer expresses concern that new ODOT director James Beasley may have an anti-urban bias, and urges Greater Cleveland leaders to "make a forceful case for Northeast Ohio's road projects."
At a Cleveland State forum yesterday, RTA introduced its Transit Oriented Design guidelines. They are seeking partners to develop three properties on Euclid Avenue as TOD projects.
Cleveland State University intends to install its new type of wind turbine, dubbed the SmartEnergy Spire, on top of an academic building. It will be at least a year before it is built.
(Update: WCPN posted a clarification of their original story.)
Developer Bob Stark is interested in redeveloping the blocks east of Jacobs Field between Carnegie and Prospect Avenues, the area around Erie Street Cemetery in downtown Cleveland. He has obtained options to buy six properties from USA Parking Inc. and is seeking a joint developer, but has not revealed his precise plans for the mixed-use development.
Euclid leaders hope to work with local housing nonprofits to renovate 100 vacant houses owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They estimate that there are 400 abandoned or foreclosed homes in the City.
The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have begun planning for the replacement of the Columbus Road Bridge in the Flats. The lift bridge was built in 1940, and will be replaced in 2011 with a movable bridge of undecided design. Plans for the replacement bridge are expected to take three years to complete.
Last week, representatives from the Global Country of World Peace unveiled plans for a $7 million "Peace Palace" at the intersection of Huffman and Stumph Roads in Parma. The site is currently zoned for retail.
The City of Seven Hills, the Parma Board of Education, and developers were able to reach a financing agreement for the proposed Rockside Terrace mixed-use development. The next phase of planning will "determine the location of the roads and the buildings, how open space is utilized and the needed public improvements." Mayor Bentkowski hopes for a fall groundbreaking.
With work on the Crocker-Stearns connector due to begin on March 1, the City of North Olmsted held a public meeting on Monday at which the Kent State Urban Design Center presented several development scenarios for the corridor and sought input from residents.
As part of their efforts to address stormwater issues, Broadview Heights City Council is discussing a proposal to evenly split the costs of storm sewer repairs with affected property owners.
Maple Heights officials want Norfolk Southern to use the Greenhurst Road Extension for additional truck traffic instead of opening a new entrance on Broadway Avenue, which the railroad is planning as part of their intermodal terminal expansion. The City has filed a suit in federal court, asking the court to effectively serve as a planning commission.
22 February 2007
The Cedar Lee Special Improvement District is sponsoring a Cedar Lee streetscape community design charrette (PDF) on Saturday from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Main Library on Lee Road. On March 8 at 7:00 p.m., the City of Shaker Heights will host a public meeting about transit-oriented development and the Van Aken-Lee area.
RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure remains a major problem in Ohio and Greater Cleveland. As of January, the state had the nation's 7th-highest foreclosure rate, up 2.85% from a year ago, and the metropolitan area had the 14th-highest rate.
21 February 2007
Private, public and non-profit groups are increasingly focusing on alternative or advanced energy. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Ohio Department of Development hope to increase the production and consumption of alternative fuels including ethanol, biodiesel, and the harvesting of methane from decaying organic matter. The Strickland administration plans to advance clean-coal technology, and biofuel, biomass, wind, and solar power generation. At the local level, wind power has been at the forefront of several organizational initiatives, including the Cuyahoga County Regional Energy Task Force's efforts to build a wind research center and the Cleveland Foundation's efforts to make the region the hub for freshwater wind power.
Some Lorain County politicians, including Avon Mayor Jim Smith, continue to strongly object to NOACA conducting a study of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. Other Lorain County leaders want the study completed within 60 days, but NOACA indicated that the study would likely be finished in the second quarter of 2007. John Kahl, the CEO of Henkel Consumer Adhesives in Avon, supports the construction of the interchange, while others contend that it would be a step back for regionalism in Northeast Ohio.
Steve Rugare acknowledges that the early-1970s architecture of the Cleveland Trust Tower and CSU University Center has fallen out of favor, notes that the architecture firms selected to design their replacements are known for mundane buildings, and concludes that "we shouldn't sacrifice them when mediocrity is all we're going to get in return." The Design Rag also lists several reasons for saving the tower.
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County completed their acquisition of 227 acres of wetlands in Twinsburg Township. The Trust for Public Land purchased the land for $3.3 million last year.
(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)
On Monday, Wal-Mart announced that they would decline the tax abatement that their Steelyard Commons store received. City officials hope to convince Home Depot and Target to also forgo the tax break. In addition, Wal-Mart named Cleveland as one of nine communities selected as "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zones." A Plain Dealer editorial says that Wal-Mart and First Interstate Properties did the right thing by giving up their tax abatements.
The developers who purchased the Union Gospel Press building in Tremont in 2003 plan to convert the historic complex into 103 apartments. The City of Cleveland approved the restoration plans, and if the developers are able to obtain financing, the first tenants could move in 12 to 20 months after construction begins.
A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to adopt a financial disclosure policy for board members. "If board members expect the public to continue passing levies that support port operations, they should require disclosure of all financial interests they hold in the region the port serves."
20 February 2007
The Cleveland Clinic re-introduced plans for modifications to Euclid Avenue. Instead of closing the street to automotive traffic as they initially proposed, their compromise proposal calls for adding traffic circles at East 89th and East 100th Streets and reducing traffic to one lane in each direction, with the Silver Line BRT in the median.
The Cleveland Institute of Art selected MVRDV to design their new building on upper Euclid Avenue in the University Circle Arts and Retail District. The cutting-edge Dutch architecture firm is known for "designing apartment slabs and towers with colorful and eccentric window patterns, giant rectangular holes cut into their middles, and highly pronounced staircases that zigzag across their facades."
Republicans in the Ohio Senate were expected to introduce two eminent domain bills today. One calls for establishing a uniform state standard for defining blight, and the other proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to override local eminent domain laws. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls the proposals unreasonable.
16 February 2007
Governor Strickland says that the 2008-2013 transportation construction plan approved by the ODOT Transportation Review Advisory Council would result in a $1.2 billion deficit by 2014. He directed the TRAC and incoming ODOT Director James Beasley to review the list of major new projects.
About 30 Boston Heights residents attended a public meeting on Wednesday about the residential and retail development proposed for the site of Boston Heights Country Club. Many in attendance did not support the plans. "I don't think anyone here wants our community to turn into Macedonia," said one.
By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners reappointed John Carney to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board after he voluntarily filed a financial disclosure statement. Commissioner Dimora dissented, citing his disagreement with Carney's stance on Whiskey Island. Earlier this week, Frank Jackson appointed Robert C. Smith of Spero-Smith Investment Advisers Inc. to the Port Authority board, replacing Sterling Glover.
Next week, the Cuyahoga Valley Communities Council will complete its transformation into a council of governments. Patricia Carey will serve as its new executive director.
The APA Advocate provides an agency-by-agency analysis of the 2008 budget proposed by President Bush and its impacts on planning-related programs, saying it "contains scant good news for planning, outlining cuts for most non-defense, non-homeland security domestic discretionary spending."
Ed Morrison shares his thoughts on the connections between urban sprawl, single-use zoning, and regionalism. "We need to find new ways of collaborating across political boundaries. We are beginning to make some progress in this direction, but our progress is altogether too slow."
Cleveland Public Utilities Director Julius Ciaccia will succeed the retiring Erwin Odeal as executive director of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District on November 1. Odeal has held the position for the last 24 years.
When Mayor Rawson of Shaker Heights announced that she would not run for re-election this year, a Plain Dealer editorial named her "one of the most enlightened and earliest advocates of regional cooperation," and a WCPN segment noted that "her name is synonymous with regionalism" before moving on to a discussion of regionalism in Greater Cleveland (MP3).
Developers of the proposed soccer stadium and retail development in northern Summit County submitted an "amended and restated compensation agreement" to the Nordonia Hills City Schools, after the previous agreement approved last April expired at the end of 2006.
Solon officials are looking at other options for land where a sports field complex was planned after a survey identified wetlands on the site. 17.6 acres of wetlands were found scattered across the 36 acre site near Aurora and Pettibone Roads. Some say that the City should have tested the site before purchasing the properties.
Senior housing advocates in Independence want another senior housing issue to appear on the ballot in November, and are preparing to begin campaigning.
North Royalton City Council is considering adopting the North Royalton Greenways Plan (PDF), a concept for creating a system of interconnected parks and trails that was developed by the North Royalton Greenways Committee.
Plans to construct a cell tower in Acacia Memorial Park Cemetery in Mayfield Heights have been delayed. The Cemetery and T-Mobile will not seek approval for the proposal while Mayor Costabile continues discussions with them and neighbors opposed to the tower.
Lakewood officials have proposed adding preservation districts to the City's zoning code in order to preserve the character of neighborhoods. It would permit the City to implement design guidelines to "protect the integrity of the structures within the designated areas" and encourage restorations.
Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman introduced a plan on Monday that would rezone stretches along Detroit and Lorain Avenues in Ohio City to prevent used car lots from moving in, saving the land for housing development. Cimperman asserted that the area now has many abandoned buildings that are "ripe for redevelopment".
Support for converting the Red Brick on Dover Center Road in Westlake to the Red Brick Center for the Arts continues to grow. The project will cost an estimated $5 million. An organizational meeting for volunteers will be held on February 24 at 1:30 p.m. in The Belvedere on Detroit Road.
Reactions to recommendations for the Lorain Road corridor in Fairview Park continue to be positive. The suggestions were developed for the Western Lorain Road Corridor Planning Study.
Vintage Development Corp. has begun renovating the powerhouse building at Battery Park near Edgewater Park. The first 10 of 300 housing units in the powerhouse building are currently under construction and Vintage plans to start building 18 "Gateway" townhouses near the powerhouse sometime next month. Other developments for the site may include a restaurant, community center, and park.
Mayor Zanotti of Parma Heights wants City Council to pass legislation that would allow the City to repair the exteriors of abandoned homes that are in foreclosure. The cost of repairs would be assessed to the property owner.
Euclid City Council President Ed Gudenas has proposed two options to encourage development in the southeast quadrant of the City. The first is the creation of an incentive zone that would give a .85% income tax rebate to companies that are willing to develop properties in that area. The second involves establishing a tax increment financing district.
As part of the Fulton Road Bridge replacement project, the closed John Nagy Boulevard will be replaced by a $1.2 million multipurpose trail. The trail near near the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will connect to existing trails in Brookside Park and eventually to the Towpath Trail, once the Big Creek Connector is constructed.
14 February 2007
Mayor Smith of Avon is upset that the NOACA board elected to study the proposed I-90 interchange at Lear Road and that he was not invited to a meeting to discuss the parameters of the study. A Lorain Morning Journal editorial accuses NOACA leadership of being obstructionist.
A lack of funding may delay or prevent the construction of a planned Route 8 access road in northern Summit County.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is seeking a new developer for the 1840 Jim Brown Farm in Cuyahoga Falls and the 1833 Hammond-Cranz Farm in Bath Township after the previous developer was unable to secure financing.
Maple Heights leaders continue to fight the expansion of the Norfolk Southern intermodal terminal. The railroad is adding 10 acres near the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Rockside Road and 15 acres near the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Libby Road.
Ted Strickland selected James Beasley as the new director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. Beasley has been the Brown County Engineer since 1980, and will assume his new role on March 5. Engineer Bonnie Teeuwen is the new deputy director of ODOT District 12.
12 February 2007
On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board unanimously voted to study the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. NOACA staff will evaluate how the interchange could affect future development in the region before a vote is held on its approval. Some Lorain County leaders were unhappy with the decision.
A Plain Dealer editorial on the Steelyard Commons tax abatement news concludes that the shopping center "can yet be a win for this city" if the big-box retailers agree to turn down their tax exemptions.
The conversion of State Route 8 (Windows Media, 42.3 MB) in northern Summit County to a limited-access freeway is scheduled to begin next month. The $111.2 million phase one will cover work between Twinsburg Road and I-271 and includes the construction of five new bridges, the widening of six existing bridges, and a new interchange at I-271.
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners bought several properties on Folsom Avenue in Cleveland to use as surface parking for the planned new juvenile detention center and courthouse. They are also in negotiations to purchase a two story parking garage on Prospect Avenue in downtown Cleveland near the Breuer tower.
09 February 2007
As expected, the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force officially proposed the Lake Erie Wind Energy Center, which would feature a demonstration project of up to ten wind turbines in Lake Erie as well as a research center. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners and the Cleveland Foundation pledged to help fund a study that will examine the project's feasibility and lay out a strategy for moving forward. The Task Force hopes to complete a global search for a project manager within six months.
The International Joint Commission issued its Thirteenth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality (PDF), in which it said that the United States and Canada have been "good, but not exemplary, stewards of our lakes." It stressed that governments need to be more accountable to their commitments to improve water quality.
A Plain Dealer editorial urges NOACA to carefully study the potential ramifications of the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. Meanwhile, Westlake is considering a proposal to vacate a mile-long section of nearby Avon Road to create room for additional development.
Cuyahoga County communities are preparing to serve their aging populations by planning recreation center expansions to meet their needs.
Last month, state officials approved the creation of five Community Reinvestment Areas in Shaker Heights. Residents in the CRAs are eligible for 75% tax abatements for eight years when investing at least $80,000 in home repairs, and in four of the CRAs, new single-family houses over $200,000 are eligible for 75% tax abatements for five years.
Cleveland City Council is considering a proposal to create an urban gardening district zoning classification. It would be used to protect community gardens from development.
Work on the multipurpose trail portion of the Treadway Creek Greenway Restoration Project is slated to begin this spring. It will eventually link Harmody Park to the Towpath Trail. Planning for a second trail linking the Zoo to the Towpath is being conducted as part of the Lower Big Creek Greenway Redevelopment and Restoration project.
Construction of the Crocker-Stearns extension project in North Olmsted and Westlake will start next month, and site preparation began this week. The $13.29 million project is scheduled to be completed in September 2009.
Middleburg Heights officials surveyed 113 residents about the City's six-month participation in the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County. Of the 61 respondents, 30 preferred the new system, 16 preferred the old, and 15 were undecided.
Foresters and service departments in southwest Cuyahoga County are preparing for the loss of their ash trees to the invasive emerald ash borer. They have established detection programs, budgeted for tree removal, and identified replacement species.
The Maple Heights Planning Commission is considering a proposal to allow billboards on all municipally owned land, including residential areas. Some members feel that the proposal is too broad.
08 February 2007
Although the developer of Steelyard Commons in Cleveland claimed that it would not use public subsidies, big-box stores at Steelyard Commons will have tax abatements. Properties that successfully complete brownfields remediation through Ohio's Voluntary Action Program are automatically eligible for a 10 year tax abatement. Wal-Mart has been approved for the tax break and the Home Depot has applied for it. Taxes generated by the property were intended to fund the extension of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland.
(Update: recent legislation allows property owners to decline the tax exemption (PDF) or to discontinue existing exemptions.)
Environmentalists say that funding cuts in President Bush's proposed federal budget will hinder efforts to improve Great Lakes water quality and to address issues identified by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.
Developers of the Avenue District in downtown Cleveland obtained an option to purchase a vacant 1.4 acre parcel at the southwest corner of St. Clair Avenue and East 12th Street. The prospects for additional condominium development on the site will depend on the sales in earlier phases.
07 February 2007
President Bush's proposed federal budget includes a $1 million funding increase for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Park officials plan to use the funds to boost maintenance, educational programs, staffing, and security.
05 February 2007
The growing problem of suburban poverty continues to attract attention, and several Cleveland suburbs served as examples in a recent Newsweek article. Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer examined how the problem is affecting Medina County.
As local leaders prepare to demolish a pair of well-known brutalist buildings, the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt asks, "Is possible to get a fair hearing for a style nobody loves?" Cleveland State University plans to raze and replace Don Hisaka's University Center, and two of the three Cuyahoga County Commissioners favor tearing down Marcel Breuer's Ameritrust Tower in downtown Cleveland.
This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN featured a discussion about regionalism through the sharing of municipal services, focusing on the seven-city fire district proposed for southwest Cuyahoga County. The guests were Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti, Northern Ohio Fire Fighters Association President Jim Astorino, and Baldwin-Wallace College's Eric Fingerhut. It also examined a new plan for joint purchasing of municipal solid waste services, with guests Maple Heights Mayor Michael Ciaravino and Pat Holland of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.
Global warming could cause Northeast Ohio temperatures to rise 3-4° F over the next century. Evaporation caused by the higher temperatures may cause Lake Erie water levels to drop by a much as three feet in the next 100 years.
(Update: The Muskegon Chronicle has more information on how global warming could affect the Great Lakes.)
As part of Black History Month, Channel 3 looked at the restoration efforts for the landmark Cozad-Bates House in University Circle. Activists hope it will become an Underground Railroad education center.
02 February 2007
After several delays, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District trustees voted to increase sewer rates by a vote of 5-1, effective March 1 (MP3).
In light of the recent debate about the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and conflicts of interest, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners asked the Ohio General Assembly to expand financial disclosure rules to cover Port Authority board members and other appointed officials who receive taxpayer salaries.
NASA unveiled a new master plan for Glenn Research Center. It calls for new office buildings, an auditorium and conference area, a public outreach district, and "a campus center that would function as downtown Glenn." The public outreach area, which will feature a new Aerospace Education Center, will be built on the site of the Center's two buildings in Fairview Park.
Local business leaders and real estate executives are meeting to discuss the Cleveland District of Design proposal. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "at least five companies have quietly committed to set up shop in the district-to-be."
A new staff paper from the US EPA recommends strengthening ozone standards. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has until June 20 to make a proposal, and a new limit must be adopted by March 12, 2008. Meeting new regulations could be challenging for Northeast Ohio, because the region does not comply with current standards.
Construction will begin next month for the parking garage portion of The Terraces development on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. It should be completed this fall. Work on the residential and retail section is scheduled to begin in the fall and for completion in 2009.
Construction of the new Westgate shopping complex is slightly ahead of schedule, and more retailers have agreed to leases in the development. The center's Target anchor will open on July 27, and Lowe's is scheduled to open in November.
The City of Berea obtained $150,000 in CDBG funds for the construction of a $450,000 pedestrian bridge at Coe Lake. An August groundbreaking is scheduled.
At a public meeting in Chagrin Falls on Monday, architect Craig Cawrse offered an inn surrounded by houses, cluster homes, or a "learning institution campus" as possible new uses for the Windsor Hospital site. He also presented several suggestions for ways that the 6.8 acre Ivex Paper Mill site could be redeveloped.
The Chippewa Creek Watershed Planning Partnership is beginning the process of identifying the necessary steps to restore and maintain the watershed.
Fairview Park business owners were receptive to a consultant's recommendations for the Western Lorain Road Corridor Planning Study that were presented at a public meeting last week.