With downtown Cleveland's Class-A office vacancy rate (PDF) down to 11%, at least five large companies may be interested in building new downtown office buildings. One of the developers competing for tenants is Bob Stark, who is expanding the footprint of his planned Warehouse District development and expects to submit a preliminary development plan in the first quarter of 2008. He anticipates it will include 1.2 to 1.5 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of residential space, and 1 to 2 million square feet in parking structures.
August 2007 Archives
31 August 2007
An 8,700 foot stretch of the Chagrin River in Kirtland Hills was rechanneled without authorization from state or federal officials. The Army Corps of Engineers says the work was a violation of the Clean Water Act, and Ohio EPA officials say that it did serious damage to the River's ecosystem and may increase downstream flooding and erosion.
(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)
Westlake voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on three rezoning issues in November, including an advisory issue for the Bradley Road property owned by the Westlake Board of Education, and another regarding a proposed expansion of Crocker Park. In Seven Hills, voters will decide a rezoning issue for the Rockside Terrace development.
Plans for the Woodland Preserve, the proposed development on the Weintraub property in Orange, include 663 housing units, public space, a medical building, and a small retail center. The area is currently zoned for single-family residential development, and developers hope to get a rezoning issue on the March ballot.
Developers are interested in purchasing Lakewood's Kaufmann Park for use in the redevelopment of a neighboring shopping center. They want to build a new shopping center that would be set back further from Detroit Road. The City hired consultants to prepare a study of the park, and it should be finished in September.
The recently formed South Euclid Land Conservancy has held two meetings, and members are discussing ways to preserve greenspace in the City.
Financial concerns may prevent the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District from joining the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council. The Cities of Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights have agreed to establish the council of governments.
Mayor Sutherland of Bay Village assembled a volunteer Green Team to promote conservation and sustainability. The group will hold its first meeting in September.
Some Pepper Pike residents are opposed to a plan to rezone four properties at Chagrin Boulevard and Lewis Drive from residential to commercial. Officials say that the properties are not suitable for residential development. Owner Joe Lo Galbo wants to build offices on the site.
30 August 2007
The Greater Cleveland Partnership established and named chairs for four advisory committees to guide planning efforts for the Cleveland Medical Mart. They are the Industry Advisory Group, the Education and Workforce Development Advisory Group, the Community Development & Inclusion Advisory Group, and the Site Selection Group.
(Update: the Site Selection Group intends to recommend a site by the end of the year.)
About 80 people attended a public hearing on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed strategic plan last night. The plan has received a generally favorable response, but watchdogs continue to encourage the Port Authority to operate with increased transparency. The Port Authority will accept public comments on the plan until September 14.
Developer Scott Wolstein agreed to purchase a two acre parking lot on Front Avenue from James Kassouf for $2.9 million. It was the last property Wolstein needed for his Flats east bank development. He hopes to begin demolition and site preparation in the coming months.
The Aurora Master Plan Review Commission is finalizing an executive summary of the new city master plan. The Commission is expected to approve the plan at its September 25 meeting and forward the plan to the City's Planning Commission.
On Tuesday, the US Census Bureau published its annual American Community Survey figures on income and poverty. Cleveland was ranked as the fourth poorest major city in the nation, an improvement over last year's number one ranking. The data showed that poverty remains a serious issue in cities across Ohio. In anticipation of the release, Mayor Jackson appeared on WCPN's Sound of Ideas to discuss poverty and other topics.
29 August 2007
The City of Cleveland selected a team led by the Cleveland office of Wilbur Smith Associates to design a new pedestrian bridge at North Coast Harbor. The bridge will connect Voinovich Park to the finger pier north of the Great Lakes Science Center.
The Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force refined its recommendations at its meeting on Monday, and is expected to adopt them in two weeks. The suggestions include providing $50 million to help communities with planning, and targeting money to cities that prioritize neighborhood redevelopment over assisting scattered property owners.
The 2007 Dashboard of Economic Indicators reports that Northeast Ohio's economic growth was again below national averages. The research was performed by Cleveland State University and funded by the Fund for Our Economic Future. They expect that "it will take at least a decade to see significant signs of economic improvement, particularly as measured by per capita income and job growth."
The Plain Dealer continued its "A Region Uniting" series with a look at city-county consolidation, using Louisville, Kentucky as an example. They examined the history of Louisville's efforts, compared the demographics of Cleveland and Louisville and their metro areas, and mapped black population shifts.
Local activists were unable to obtain enough signatures in a petition drive to force a referendum issue on the recent Cuyahoga County sales tax increase. The quarter-percent increase will begin on October 1 and remain in place for 20 years. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "the real work on a convention center now begins."
While a U.S. House transportation bill includes $350,000 for a West Shore Corridor study, the Senate version did not include the funds. Local rail advocates are continuing to work on the proposal.
(Update: The Chronicle-Telegram summarizes a recent meeting.)
A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's new strategic plan provides "a worthy goal for an organization whose board and former leader were defending themselves, just a year ago, against charges that the Port Authority was too secretive and unaccountable."
Because the Ferchill Group scrapped its plans to build Riverside Landing, a proposed $22 million residential development on the Scranton Peninsula, Cuyahoga County rescinded a $1 million brownfields cleanup loan for the project.
A News-Herald editorial praises a new regional economic development strategy for Lake County. "The vision is a regional focus that puts the good of the county equal to individual cities, townships and villages."
(via Advance Northeast Ohio)
24 August 2007
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners yesterday selected a team led by Juwi International of Germany to conduct a feasibility study for the Lake Erie Wind Energy Center, the proposed 20 megawatt offshore wind turbine demonstration project. The Commissioners also approved an agreement that authorizes CWRU to operate the research center.
A new report from Policy Matters Ohio says that foreclosures in suburban Cuyahoga County were about 17% higher in the first half of 2007 than in the first half of 2006. Foreclosures in Cleveland rose by 5%.
Cleveland's Azerbaijani and Serbian communities plan to soon break ground on their Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park, and they may be joined by Armenian, Native American, and Albanian gardens.
Brooklyn officials obtained a $60,000 TLCI grant to help pay for a feasibility study for a three mile extension of the Big Creek greenway trail. In Middleburg Heights, work on the Lake to Lake All Purpose Trail will begin in September. The trail will link Lake Abram to Lake Isaac. In Shaker Heights, construction of the Shaker Boulevard median trail started earlier this week.
Cleveland Heights City Council passed a resolution implementing the East Derbyshire Road Neighborhood Improvement Project, which will use $700,000 of federal funds to offer grants and abatements to potential homeowners. The neighborhood mostly consists of duplexes, and the City hopes to increase the level of owner occupancy. Euclid, meanwhile, has begun demolishing abandoned houses.
Hunting Valley adopted the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. The Village has no industrial land and only one commercial property.
Bentleyville Village Council approved the preliminary plat for Madison Woods, which will include 24 cluster homes. Developer T. J. Asher intends to immediately begin construction of the subdivision.
23 August 2007
At a public forum in Elyria last night, consultants for NOACA presented preliminary results of their impact analysis of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. They said that the interchange (PDF) would benefit Avon and have no material impacts on surrounding areas. Officials from Cuyahoga County communities disagreed, and said that it would hasten urban sprawl. A Morning Journal editorial again portrayed Cuyahoga County leaders as obstructionists.
With a new baseball stadium under construction in Washington, D.C., Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher used Jacobs Field as an example of a stadium that did not catalyze development in the area surrounding it.
Steven Litt praises the design of the new Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, calling it "one of the most beautiful new music venues in the region." It's scheduled to open in November.
In an editorial, the Plain Dealer expresses optimism about the future of Euclid Avenue. "The good news, obscured by the dust of the Euclid Corridor's construction these last three years, is that the first seeds of revival are not only being sown, but they're also taking root."
Scott Muscatello provides images of the planned expansion of the Veterans Administration facility in University Circle.
On Monday, the Moreland Hills Planning and Zoning Commission will review plans for Moreland Town Center, a planned redevelopment of the northwest corner of the Chagrin Boulevard and SOM Center Road intersection.
(Update: demolition of the corner's existing structures is underway.)
Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren outlined several ambitious ideas that the City is considering to encourage regional progress. He plans to present a formal economic development strategy in October.
21 August 2007
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority released a draft of a new strategic plan (PDF) yesterday. Among other objectives, it calls for the port to expand from its existing 130 acres to at least 200 acres. A public hearing on the plan will be held on August 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Tri-C's Unified Technologies Center on Woodland Avenue in Cleveland.
Last week, the Cleveland City Planning Commission and the Design Review Committee approved the demolition of Don Hisaka's 1974 University Center at Cleveland State, and approved Charles Gwathmey's preliminary designs for its replacement.
Royalton Place, a 132,000 square foot retail center with an additional 38,000 square feet of outlots, has been proposed for the northeast corner of Royalton and York Roads in North Royalton. The 32 acre site includes 7.32 acres of wetlands, and the Ohio EPA will accept public comments on the development until September 5.
This evening, the Orange Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss a mixed-use development proposed for the 85 acre Weintraub property on Harvard Road. The project would include senior housing, continuing care, and public spaces.
20 August 2007
NOACA's Transportation Advisory Committee approved the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon by a vote of 19-11. The economic impact assessment for the controversial proposal should be completed by September 7, and the agency's Governing Board is scheduled to vote on September 14.
The Ohio Department of Transportation intends to proceed with plans for the Innerbelt redesign that do not include the exit at Carnegie Avenue desired by Cleveland businesses. ODOT will submit a plan to federal highway officials in about a week.
Brooklyn Heights' leaders plan to use the Cuyahoga Valley, the Village's central location, and the Towpath Trail (including the West Creek Greenway) as the linchpins of the Village's redevelopment plans.
Ohio Department of Transportation officials say that Cleveland's delay in making a decision about the future of the controversial ramps at the west end of the West Shoreway is raising the cost of redesign. Cleveland officials contend that ODOT has provided confusing and conflicting information about construction costs and traffic estimates.
On Friday, Illinois became the second state to endorse the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, joining Minnesota, which enacted the Compact in February.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency awarded $750,000 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants to 12 neighborhood transportation planning studies (PDF) in Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lorain Counties.
The Ohio office of HUD's Community Planning and Development Division gave its 2007 CPD award of excellence to Tinkers Creek Commerce Park in Bedford, the industrial park built on the former Brush Wellman site.
Legislation introduced in South Euclid City Council would permit residents to use rain barrels at their homes. Sponsors say that rain barrel usage can conserve water and reduce runoff.
Mayfield Village purchased the Stabile property on SOM Center Road for $750,000. The four acre property includes a waterfall and ravine.
On August 22, the City of Brecksville will hold a public meeting to gather input about proposed retail developments at the Crow property and the Veterans Administration site. Mayor Hruby would like to see about 400,000 square feet of retail built on the VA property, but opposes building a big box store.
Two Solon residents say that City officials should have been more prepared for the construction of Diamond Business Center in Glenwillow.
The Ohio Historical Society nominated Strongsville's Old Town Hall for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
Broadview Heights City Council's Stormwater Committee is preparing for a public hearing on proposed fees to fund stormwater projects. It will be held on August 30 at 7:00 p.m. in Broadview Heights City Hall.
16 August 2007
Steven Litt critiqued the schematic designs for Charles Gwathmey's new student center at Cleveland State University, and said that it should be "a strong, assertive, memorable building open to the city and campus on all sides." Construction of the building slated to replace the existing University Center is scheduled for 2008 to 2010.
A a press conference this morning, 40 Cuyahoga County mayors endorsed the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart. WCPN examined the announcement and the recent Merchandise Mart tour. Significant negotiations are on hold while officials wait for results of the petition drive being mounted by opponents of the sales tax increase.
On Monday, the Greater Cleveland Partnership dropped its advocacy for the Innerbelt exit at Carnegie Avenue. The Ohio Department of Transportation wants to close the exit as part of its planned Innerbelt redesign, while downtown businesses want it to remain open.
15 August 2007
Merchandise Mart Properties is considering 13 possible locations for the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart, but company officials declined to identify the sites. Yesterday, a group of Cleveland business and labor leaders, government officials, and media members toured the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Free Times attempted to determine if the projections identified by Medical Mart supporters are realistic.
State Senator Kevin Coughlin introduced a reworked version of his rejected eminent domain constitutional amendment, and hopes to get in on the ballot in November 2008.
14 August 2007
City Fresh and other local urban gardeners have adopted asphalt gardening techniques. In addition to providing greenspace and affordable local food, asphalt gardening can reduce the urban heat island effect and can help reduce storm runoff.
The attraction of immigrants to Northeast Ohio has not been seen as a tool for economic development, according to Mark Santo of the Cleveland Council of World Affairs, who is leading the Immigration Blueprint Project to show how regional growth can be aided by bringing in new residents from around the world.
Subcommittees of the Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force are recommending that the State provide $50 million in funding to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes and $10 million to establish counseling for homeowners to prevent additional foreclosures. The Task Force will reconvene on August 27th to finalize recommendations to Governor Ted Strickland.
An Ohio EPA survey of 25 man-made replacement wetlands, mostly in Northeast Ohio, gave a majority a grade of poor-to-fair. The agency's review of wetlands mitigation rules will be completed in November.
Steven Litt says that ODOT's Innerbelt plans are "shaping up as a colossal disappointment", and that the biggest immediate problem is that the plan to cap a section of the downtown highway "hasn't received enough business and political support to convince ODOT to explore it seriously."
Plain Dealer columnist Joe Frolik wrote about the mixed-income redevelopment of CMHA's Valleyview Homes in Tremont, and called it "a pioneering effort to bring 'green' construction principles to affordable housing". The first tenants will begin moving in next month.
On Friday, NOACA consultants presented a progress report (PDF) on the economic impact assessment for the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. The Cleveland Clinic announced their support of the controversial interchange, and unveiled plans for a nearby 170,000 square foot facility. NOACA will hold a public meeting about the interchange on August 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Spitzer Conference Center in Elyria, and approval of the proposal is on the August 17th agenda of the NOACA Transportation Advisory Committee.
St. Maron's Church is suing the City of Independence, charging that municipality's planning and zoning code discriminates against it. City officials have not granted permission for a new church at the Marycrest site on Brookside Road.
10 August 2007
The first phase of the Tinkers Creek Aqueduct project in Valley View was completed, and the section of the canal was reopened. Phase two is under design, and the National Park is seeking $1 million for construction.
NASA Glenn Research Center and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority reached a memorandum of understanding for the development of a land use plan for the 350 acre NASA campus.
The Sun Press explored the foreclosure crisis in Shaker Heights with a look at the correlation between race and foreclosure rates and a summary of a new report by a pair of Harvard researchers. The new report, titled "Understanding Mortgage Foreclosure Trends in Shaker Heights, Ohio" (PDF), will be presented on Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.
The colorful The Politician: A Toy sculpture on Chester Avenue in Cleveland may be moved to a more pedestrian-friendly location.
(Update: MidTown Cleveland notes that funds are being raised to relocate the sculpture to East 55th Street and Euclid Avenue.)
The North Royalton City Schools will likely sell a 33 acre property at Abbey and Albion Roads to the City. The site will be used as the new home for radio towers that must be moved for the planned North Royalton Town Center development.
The Bentleyville Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved the preliminary plat for the planned Madison Woods subdivision off of Chagrin River Road. Village Council is expected to discuss the plat on Wednesday.
09 August 2007
"Testing the Waters", the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches, says that Ohio's Lake Erie beaches pose the greatest health risk in the nation. The problems are largely due to high bacteria levels from combined sewer overflows.
(Update: The Plain Dealer and WKSU offer more details.)
A recent railroad crossing accident may delay Bedford's attempts to establish a railroad quiet zone, "but the quiet zone process is already moving at glacial speed," according to City Manager Bob Reid.
After reaching a water distribution and no poaching agreement with the City of Cleveland, leaders in Bedford are contemplating the implications of a region-wide tax sharing plan.
08 August 2007
The contentious Doan Brook restoration project has been scaled back because of higher than expected costs. The most recent proposal calls for restoring two sections covering one mile of the brook through Cleveland.
In this week's Free Times, William Bostwick reviews the OPEN: New Designs for Public Space exhibit at MOCA. "Though it highlights dozens of new buildings that re-imagine things like plazas, parks and performance spaces, it leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. But don't worry: That's a good thing."
Terry Schwarz of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative says that the proposal to cap the Innerbelt in Cleveland is "extremely improbable and potentially counterproductive" due to high costs and a lack of real estate demand.
Michael Schramm and Claudia Coulton of Case's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences examined the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on the number of houses and condominiums in Cuyahoga County owned by financial institutions. As of February 2007, 9,175 of these properties are held by financial institutions, representing 2.05% of the County's residential properties. The highest percentage was in East Cleveland, where financial institutions own 8.09% of the houses and condominiums.
07 August 2007
In regionalism news, Mayor Currin of Hudson and others continue to work on the 16 county governmental cooperative regional economic development initiative. They hope to release a report in January and a plan by March. Meanwhile, a group of seven east side Cuyahoga County suburbs may jointly select a company for garbage transfer and disposal (PDF).
Steven Litt is troubled by the design of the new Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations building in University Circle. "The problem is that the building seems almost violently discontinuous in scale, massing, materials and style with the buildings around it."
Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommendations call for the 1,625 dams they oversee to be inspected once every five years. The Columbus Dispatch reports that more than 1,200 regulated dams have not been inspected since 2002.
The Plain Dealer offered support to local regionalism efforts in a pair of editorials, saying that "the people of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township can help lead the way" in providing more efficient municipal services by studying a merger, and that the no poaching agreements between Cleveland and suburban communities signal that the region's "winner-take-all mind-set is starting to change."
By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners awarded the contract for asbestos removal and interior demolition of the Cleveland Trust Tower to Precision Environmental Co. of Independence.
Representatives of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and property owner James Kassouf have until Wednesday to reach a purchase agreement for a two acre parking lot needed for the planned Flats east bank development. If they are unable to settle on a price, the eminent domain lawsuit may be reopened.
Cleveland airport officials and consultants have begun work on a master plan for Burke Lakefront Airport, and hope to have the plan completed by October. A public meeting last Thursday was sparsely attended due to inclement weather, and a second public meeting will be held on Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Burke Lakefront Airport. This morning's Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion about the future of the airport.
06 August 2007
On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission tentatively approved plans for the new Giant Eagle supermarket at West 117th Street and I-90.
While community leaders continue to struggle with the ongoing foreclosure crisis, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a new $3 million program aimed at keeping houses out of foreclosure. Half of the program will offer no-interest loans of up to $3,000 to nearly 500 homeowners threatened with foreclosure. The other half will supply $1 million to the City of Cleveland and $500,00 to 15 older suburbs for the demolition or renovation of abandoned houses.
Last week, the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on a $21 billion reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes many projects that would benefit the Great Lakes region. However, President Bush said he will veto the bill because he feels it's too expensive. The veto threat caused the Senate to enter its summer recess without passing the bill.
Builders hope to begin work this fall on Highland Ridge, a 302 home subdivision planned for 55 acres on Highland Road at Donna Drive in Richmond Heights. The development could take five years to build.
Plans for the proposed 12 unit condominium project on Lorain Road are scheduled to go before the Fairview Park Board of Zoning Appeals next month. The site of the planned Residences of Chanticleer development is currently occupied by a single-family house.
As phase one of the Kamm's Corners streetscape project continues, community leaders are meeting to discuss its second phase. Phase one remains on schedule for completion in November, and phase two should be finished by November 2008.
The City of Avon and Lake Pointe Construction have been unable to resolve their differences about the proposed residential to retail rezoning of about 24 acres at the southeast corner of Detroit and Center Roads, and the lawsuit is growing more complicated.
Fred Geis, developer of the Diamond Business Center in Glenwillow, tried to alleviate the concerns of Solon residents about the development. He said that the company will screen the industrial park from its residential neighbors and will attempt to place heavier industry away from residential areas.
Bentleyville Village Council narrowly approved a 75 foot riparian setback ordinance. Some councilmembers preferred a 120 foot setback.
The owner of a 5.5 acre property on Royalton Road in Strongsville revived plans for building a hotel on the site, and applied for rezoning the property from office building to motorist service.
A recent survey of Orange residents found that 93% rated the Village's quality of life as good or excellent.
01 August 2007
Foreign Office Architects devised a design for the new MOCA building at Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road in University Circle, but MOCA will not unveil the design until they complete a fundraising feasibility study. MOCA Director Jill Snyder said that the four story museum will qualify for a LEED rating.
This week's Scene raises concerns about toxic waste at the former Diamond Shamrock site in Fairport Harbor, a Superfund site being remediated and redeveloped as part of the Lakeview Bluffs resort community.
Case Western Reserve University offered to lead research on the proposed Lake Erie Wind Energy Center and to pay $200,000 towards the $800,000 feasibility study. The Lake Erie Wind Energy Task Force has identified three teams as finalists to conduct the study.
The Free Times concludes its series on the foreclosure crisis with a look at the history of predatory lending legislation in the state and federal legislatures.
Developers of the proposed soccer stadium and retail development scaled back the complex to 125 acres in Macedeonia and dropped the proposed annexation of 200 acres of Northfield Township.
Giant Eagle wants to build an 87,000 square foot store adjacent to the new Target store at West 117th Street and I-90 in Cleveland. Designs for the supermarket will be presented at the Friday meeting of the Cleveland City Planning Commission.
Last Wednesday, the Cleveland Restoration Society presented eleven awards for historic preservation projects in Northeast Ohio.