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January 2008 Archives

One year after the opening of its first store, the Steelyard Commons shopping center in Cleveland is meeting or exceeding expectations. With 97% of the space in its first phase accounted for, owner First Interstate Properties plans to break ground on the 250,000 square foot second phase as early as this fall.

For the fifth consecutive year, RTA experienced a growth in ridership numbers. Ridership increased from 57.2 million in 2006 to 57.3 million in 2007.

The owner of Rocky River's Beachcliff Market Square is "very unhappy" with the results of the shopping center's 2006 renovation and expansion, and plans to invest in additional improvements. Rockport Shopping Center will also be redesigned. Preliminary plans call for dividing the former Target store into five smaller spaces and replacing the buildings to its east.

RTA officials say that improvements in Greater Cleveland's air quality correspond with the the agency's usage of cleaner buses.

Update: the Earth Day Coalition's Clean Fuels weblog explores the subject.

Cleveland officials proposed offering $5.1 million in loans to the K&D Group for the redevelopment of the 668 Euclid complex, in addition to other incentives. Cleveland City Council may vote on the proposal as early as Monday.

Update: City Council unanimously approved the loan.

Adam Wasserman, President and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, was the guest on this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN. He discussed the Port's role in economic development, as well as the proposed move, lakefront greenspace, and the port's foray into containerized shipping.

The board of the Macedonia and Northfield Center Township JEDD approved funding for the Route 8 corridor land use study. The board also voted to nullify an annexation agreement that it ratified last year for the proposed soccer stadium complex.

RealtyTrac reports that nationwide foreclosure filings increased by 75% in 2007. In Ohio, the number of filings rose by 88%.

Doug Price of The K&D Group said that the rendering of a proposed office tower at the Ameritrust complex in downtown Cleveland was "a quick concept to get something in the paper". He added that the building will not resemble the rendering, and that he would like a local architect to design the structure.

Update: the news was a surprise to architect Robert Corna.

Tracey Nichols, Cuyahoga County's Assistant Director for Economic Development, was hired as the City of Cleveland's new Director of Economic Development. She will start on February 11.

Channel 8 reports on the construction of the Avenue District development in downtown Cleveland.

(via The Avenue District)

Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the City of Cleveland continue to disagree about implementing the stalled plans to reconstruct the West Shoreway. The bones of contention include speed limit changes, traffic congestion projections, and funding. Andy Guy identified similar disputes in other Great Lakes cities.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the Ohio Legislature ought to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. A Plain Dealer editorial, meanwhile, attributes Ohio's lack of a water technology industry to "hopelessly out-of-touch legislators" in the state Senate.

Update: Andy Guy comments on the emerging water technology industry and references the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Siemens AG's Wisconsin operations that spurred the Plain Dealer editorial.

The renovation of the former Warner and Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland was halted after the owner was indicted for mortgage fraud last January.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt remains unimpressed with the designs for a new cancer center at the University Hospitals campus in University Circle, saying it "shows only marginal improvement since the hospital unveiled its disappointing initial concept in the spring."

The owner of a River Road bungalow in the Olmsted Falls Historic District wants to demolish the house, because it would be cheaper to replace than expand. The City's Architectural Board of Review rejected the request, and he has appealed to City Council. A public hearing will be held on January 31.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development published its Annual Report (PDF). Director Paul Oyaski says it "documents the many successes achieved during 2007."

Solon City Council approved the revised plans for the Southwoods cluster house subdivision by a vote of 4-3, authorizing 40 zoning variances.

Upscale shopping centers Crocker Park in Westlake and Beachcliff Market Square in Rocky River are competing for customers.

The existing structures at I-71 and Royalton Road in Strongsville will be razed within the next few months to make way for a new retail development. Visconsi Companies is expected to reveal details about the project by March 1.

Achievement Centers for Children, which operates Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, agreed to purchase a five acre property adjacent to the camp, effectively canceling a proposal to built a hotel on the site. The organization does not intend to develop or sell the land.

Had Stark Enterprises not withdrawn its proposal for a mixed-use development in Solon, City Council likely would have selected it over the competing proposal from The Coral Co.

By February 1, the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce is expected to select a consultant to prepare a land use study for the Route 8 corridor between Highland Road and Hines Hill Road in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township.

The upcoming study of the Auburn Corners area will help formulate a balanced growth plan, highlighting opportunities for both development and conservation.

While Cedar Fair markets the 500 acre Geauga Lake site, a group of roller coaster enthusiasts is continuing its efforts to preserve a portion of the closed amusement park and the Big Dipper roller coaster.

This week's Free Times summarizes the history of South Euclid's plans to redevelop the north side of Cedar Center, as well as the adverse repercussions it has had on the shopping center's merchants.

Maple Heights City Council expressed an interest in using Rockside Elementary School as a city hall or senior center, if voters approve the school construction bond issue.

Ernst & Young and Eaton are both thinking about building new offices in Scott Wolstein's Flats east bank development. This angered Bob Stark, who is planning a large Warehouse District development. Stark asserts that a shift of office tenants to the Flats project would damage downtown.

Update: Stark is reassessing his Warehouse District plans.

Great Lakes Urban Exchange is a new "multi-media documentary, networking, and creative research effort" intended to "tell new stories about Great Lakes cities and bring the people who love them together." Co-founders Abby Wilson and Sarah Szurpicki recently appeared on Smart City Radio. Meanwhile, former Cleveland Tech Czar Michael DeAloia recently launched The Cool History of Cleveland, a new weblog focusing on local history.

(via GreenCityBlueLake and Cool Cleveland)

A bill introduced in the Ohio Sentate yesterday is aimed at expediting the foreclosure process for abandoned houses. Another bill introduced yesterday would allow cities to establish local programs similar to the statewide Clean Ohio Fund. Mayor Coleman of Columbus hopes to use the latter bill to create the Clean Columbus Fund (PDF).

This week, the Plain Dealer is publishing a series on Cleveland's foreclosure crisis. The series includes articles, slideshows, graphics, and databases. However, Bill Callahan feels that the investigation is overlooking an important question.

State Rep. Matt Dolan and State Sen. Tim Grendell may again butt heads about whether Ohio should adopt the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. The House approved a similar Dolan-sponsored bill in 2006, but the Senate never voted on it due to opposition from Grendell.

The City of Cleveland's foreclosure lawsuit against 21 large investment banks was moved to federal court after lawyers from Lehman Brothers argued that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court lacked jurisdiction. Attorneys for the City have filed to bring the case back to Common Pleas Court.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued new rules for oil and natural gas drilling in all of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties and parts of Medina, Lorain, and Summit counties. The changes are in response to an explosion in Bainbridge Township last month caused by methane leaking into the water table.

Update: residents are upset by the state's response to the issue, while area officials are hope the new permit conditions will prevent future problems.

The Plain Dealer presents information about the proposed retail development in Brooklyn Heights. The proposal has been met with mixed reactions from residents.

The Great Lakes Theater Festival has raised 75% of the $19.2 million it needs for planned renovations of the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square. Architecture firm Westlake Reed Leskosky will unveil its designs for the Theatre today.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the fundraising drive and proposed renovations "deserve a standing ovation from Northeast Ohio theatergoers."

On this morning's Weekly Business Roundup on WCPN, Scott Roulston talked about the K&D Group's bid to purchase the Ameritrust complex in Cleveland.

Stark Enterprises' decision to drop its proposal for a mixed-use development in Solon does not necessarily mean that the City will approve the competing proposal from The Coral Co. City Council is now expected to slow down the process and take weeks or months before reaching a conclusion. Stark, meanwhile, now envisions redeveloping Solon Shopping Center as a project similar to his Eton shopping center in Woodmere.

After withdrawing from the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County last year, the Cities of Berea, Brook Park, and Strongsville reverted to their former municipal transportation systems. Middleburg Heights, on the other hand, will continue its participation in the Senior Transportation Connection.

The Solon Planning and Zoning Commission approved revised plans for the Southwoods subdivision on Tuesday. The plans will now go before City Council.

The Foran Group is projecting that the Cliffs on Rocky River condominiums will be completed by late 2011.

South Euclid leaders are considering a plan to designate the entire City as a community reinvestment area. Homeowners who reinvest in their properties would be eligible for a property tax reduction. New construction would also qualify for the reduction.

The planned construction of an I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon prompted rezoning requests from developers wanting to build on surrounding properties. The Avon Planning Commission heard requests to rezone 120 nearby acres for retail space and medical offices.

The amount of forested land in Ohio has roughly doubled over the last 50 years. Governor Strickland wants Ohio's state forests to be accredited as sustainable sources of timber. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources points out that owners of woodlands in six Northeast Ohio counties can apply for participation in the Forest Legacy Program, a federal conservation easement program.

Euclid City Council's Executive and Finance Committee unanimously voted to establish a 25 year TIF for the forthcoming CVS store on Lake Shore Boulevard. The precise boundaries of the TIF zone have yet to be determined.

If Cuyahoga County officials are unable to reach an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the development of the planned Medical Mart, the County Commissioners say that they will consider other potential partners.

Ohio Green Communities, a collaborative dedicated to funding to affordable green housing, named three Cleveland developments as 2007 Ohio Green Communities Projects. They are Cogswell House, Village Green Elderly, and Tremont Pointe II.

A lack of ice on Lake Erie has extended the shipping season. The warmer waters have been attributed to global warming, which has also been linked to lower water levels.

Cuyahoga County officials unsealed bids today for the Ameritrust complex at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street. Although they were expecting several bids (PDF), the only package was a $35 million bid from the K&D Group of Willoughby. The company's plans call for converting the Cleveland Trust Tower to a 170 room hotel and 200 residential units. They also want to construct a new 200,000 square foot office tower at Prospect Avenue and East 9th Street and build additional parking and residential space.

Update: the Plain Dealer also reported on the bid and reactions to the news.

The Intelligent Community Forum named Northeast Ohio as one of the top seven intelligent communities of the year, an honor that Cleveland also received in 2006.

(via Bytes From Lev)

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WCPN have more details.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland leaders must support a countywide land bank to help counter the "devastating impact on local property values" caused by the foreclosure crisis.

Foreclosure and Beyond, a new report from Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development concluded that rising rates of foreclosure are having a detrimental effect on home values in Cuyahoga County. It suggests that "greater efforts are required to protect the growing number of vacant homes and limit spillover effects to surrounding properties" and that "policies are needed that can speed the movement of these foreclosed homes into the hands of home owners or landlords who can occupy and maintain the properties."

Instead of eliminating the controversial weighted voting provision, NOACA board members are discussing a proposal that would make it more difficult to use.

The City of Cleveland announced yesterday that it was suing 21 major investment banks that "financed and cultivated the sub-prime market." Law Director Robert Triozzi said that the banks trigged the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland by creating a market for mortgage-backed securities based on subprime lending "even though they knew full well that this was not an appropriate market for this activity." The City is charging (PDF) the banks with violating Ohio's public nuisance law and hopes to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Update: the New York Times also reported on the case, which could inspire similar lawsuits from other cities.

The Ohio EPA intends to designate Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties as nonattainment areas under the US EPA's new fine particulate standard. The designation may require new pollution controls to be enacted in order to lower soot levels. The Ohio EPA will accept public comments through January 25, and will hold a public hearing in Columbus on January 22.

Yesterday, Green Energy Ohio released A Wind Resource Assessment for Near-Shore Lake Erie (PDF, 9.8 MB), the results of a two year study of the winds over Lake Erie. In 2005, a wind monitoring system was installed at Cleveland's water intake crib, 3½ miles off the shore of downtown Cleveland. The analysis found an average wind speed of 16.4 mph, the strongest ever measured in Ohio. Cuyahoga County Economic Development Director Paul Oyaski says the report "lays the foundation" for the upcoming 13-month wind turbine feasibility study.

Stark Enterprises will drop its plans for a mixed-use development at the intersection of SOM Center and Aurora Roads in Solon. The company was unable to proceed with its plans after Gross Builders withdrew from a development partnership. Gross Builders' reasons for leaving the partnership remain unclear. Stark will now try to build a scaled-back, retail-only development.

Update: Monday's Plain Dealer has more details.

A group of port authority and municipal officials met in Mentor to discuss the proposed Cleveland to Port Stanley ferry and the proposed Fairport Harbor to Port Burwell ferry. A working group will assess possible collaborations on several issues.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Summa Health System and Western Reserve Hospital Partners have proposed building a new hospital at an undetermined location in northern Summit County's Route 8 corridor. The construction would join a planned Cleveland Clinic facility and a new University Hospitals facility in Twinsburg.

In Lakewood, construction of first two phases of Rockport Square is nearing completion, with phase 2 work scheduled to finish by the end of 2008. The construction of Phase 3 will depend on market demand.

Brook Park officials say that they are cooperating to develop a plan for easing flooding concerns.

DiSanto Enterprises submitted revised plans for the Southwoods subdivision to the City of Solon. Planning Director Rob Frankland describes them as "a modest modification from the original plan." Meanwhile, a Solon resident says that City Council took too long to decide whether to place a rezoning issue for a proposed senior housing development on the March ballot. He may sue the City.

Cleveland Public Power may hire consultants to study the feasibility of building a waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station in Cleveland. They may seek grants to help pay for the study, which could cost as much as $250,000.

The 195,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter at Meadowbrook Market Square in Bedford is scheduled to open on March 7.

Tom Jordan is North Royalton's new Director of Community Development. He previously served as the Director of Planning and Development in Lakewood, a position he held since 2004. Nathan Kelly now holds the Lakewood post.

The family of a Valley View landowner is attempting to rescind a purchase agreement with the developers of the proposed Preserve at Hathaway Farm subdivision.

The US EPA found General Environmental Management's Cleveland plant in violation of the Clean Air Act, and that it annually emits of 17 tons of hydrogen chloride (PDF), among other violations. The company is also being sued by the City of Cleveland for operating without a permit.

The Gemini Center, Fairview Park's new recreation center, will officially open this weekend. Celebrations will be held on Saturday, and the facility will open to members on Sunday. Its construction was part of the Gemini Project.

This morning, the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals upheld the City of Akron's residency requirement for municipal employees. The City of Lima's law was upheld last month.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU provide more information.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a contract yesterday with a subsidiary of Juwi International to study the feasibility of offshore Lake Erie wind turbines. It will include research on a possible Cleveland-based wind turbine certification body.

On January 22, Solon City Council will choose between proposals from The Coral Co. (PDF) and Stark Enterprises (PDF) for mixed-use developments. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on a rezoning for the selected development in November.

CSU's Levin College Forum continues its examination of creating and sustaining communities of choice with a forum titled "Greening Northeast Ohio's Neighborhoods" on February 6. The event will include a talk by Tom Hicks, Vice President, LEED, of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Ohio Attorney General Dann, the Ohio Environmental Council, and the National Wildlife Federation are all appealing Lake County Common Pleas Judge Lucci's decision in the Lake Erie property lines case. They say that the "ruling goes against more than 100 years of Ohio legal precedent".

Update: the Blade and WCPN have more details.

Mayor Brewer of East Cleveland says that his City's water main agreement with the City of Cleveland will lower residents' water bills by about a third.

Update: WKYC and WTAM have additional information.

Steven Litt revisited his critique of the new Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations building at Case Western Reserve University, and had a change of heart. He now feels that the "Mandel building shows how you can have solid, contemporary architecture and a strong, neighborhood-sensitive design that fits well in its setting."

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy preserved a record-high 4,110 acres in 2007, and has preserved a total of 13,262 acres in 14 Northeast Ohio counties.

The Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan will hold three day-long community workshops for local officials and residents. The first, on January 19, will be on the Brandywine Creek watershed. Workshops on the Mud Brook and Furnace Run watersheds will follow on February 16 and March 1. All will be held at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Happy Days Visitors Center.

The City of Cleveland is seeking interdisciplinary consultants to develop the Canal Basin District Plan, which will be a conceptual study intended to "help to establish a roadmap for future public and private investment decisions that will turn the Cuyahoga River Valley into a major attraction for residents and visitors, alike."

On Friday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners set a 60-day deadline for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. to agree to a location for the planned Medical Mart and to commit to a specific investment. A Plain Dealer editorial says the deadline is "more than fair."

The Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center plans to build a new home at Euclid Avenue and East 117th Street in University Circle. Steven Litt feels that the Bostwick Design Partnership's preliminary designs for the four-story building are good, but could be better.

Gross Builders appears to have separated from a partnership with Stark Enterprises, and intends to return to earlier plans for a senior housing development on 27.2 acres on Aurora Road. The change may force Stark to offer a scaled-back version of its proposed mixed-use Garden District development.

Pre-construction sales of condominiums at The Terraces on Lee Road have not been proceeding as well as anticipated. Builder Al. Neyer, Inc. is considering several options, including scaling back the mixed-use project. Executives with the company will discuss the development with Cleveland Heights officials.

CSX and the City of Brook Park recently signed a construction agreement for the City's planned railroad quiet zones. Brook Park officials hope the City will become the first in Ohio to establish quiet zones.

South Euclid residents opposed to the City's new exterior point-of sale home inspections submitted referendum petitions late last month. The City will verify the signatures and then send the petitions to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Officials with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority say that their proposed facility north of East 55th Street in Cleveland will allow the Port to accommodate containerized shipping.

The current and former mayors of North Royalton asked Ohio's senators for assistance in obtaining another extension for meeting the job creation requirements of a federal grant the City received in 1998 for the expansion of York Road industrial park. If the extension is not granted, the City may assess property owners to cover repayment of the grant.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer again encourages Ohio legislators to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, saying that they "cannot allow crackpot conspiracy theories to hold hostage this state's future."

The Cleveland Botanical Garden and the City of Cleveland are testing several varieties of low-growth grass mixes that require less frequent mowing. The Botanical Garden will also hold its third annual Sustainability Symposium on February 2.

President Bush intends to nominate former ODNR Director Sam Speck as one of the three U.S. commissioners of the International Joint Commission. The appointment requires confirmation by a U.S. Senate panel.

(via GLIN)

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