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February 2008 Archives

A new report on Great Lakes spending estimates that local governments invest $15 billion per year to protect the Great Lakes, a figure that greatly exceeds federal spending. Local officials say that the study should strengthen the case for a larger federal role. Today was also the third annual Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill, where Great Lakes advocates presented their legislative priorities to lawmakers.

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals purchased the naming rights for RTA's Euclid Corridor BRT line, which will be known as the HealthLine. It was previously called the Silver Line.

Representatives of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama attended Cleveland City Council's Fighting Foreclosure Forum yesterday. Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland also announced that it received $600,000 to advertise and to hire more counselors.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners officially rejected the K&D Group's bid to purchase the Ameritrust complex today. A Plain Dealer editorial said they had no choice but to reject the offer. The K&D Group may submit a second attempt when bidding is reopened.

Solon officials would like the firm of Wells + Associates to update the City's traffic plan to reflect the impacts of the proposed Central Parc development. The Coral Co. agreed to pay for part of the traffic study.

This evening, the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization will convene the first of three public meetings about a proposed Walworth Run trail. The trail would run along Train Avenue and connect the West Side Reliever High School and Zone Recreation Center to the Towpath Trail.

Construction of the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights is behind schedule. It was originally scheduled to open in November 2008, but the first stores are not expected to open until March 2009.

Last week, Euclid City Council passed a resolution calling for public funding of a Lake Erie breakwall. Mayor Cervenik objected to the resolution, calling it "very disturbing."

The Fairmount Area Neighborhood Association presented a petition to Shaker Heights City Council. The petition notes their concerns about "gradual degradation of the Fairmount Circle area over the past 20 years and a lack of appropriate planning and oversight". Residents are particularly troubled by the behavior of John Carroll University students in off-campus housing.

Voters in Broadview Heights will decide a rezoning issue on Tuesday. The owners of three properties on Cherry Hill Lane want a portion of their properties rezoned from office to single-family residential.

The City of Berea recently established a housing and social services division within the building, engineering, and planning department. Creation of the housing division was a campaign promise of Mayor Kleem.

The Twinsburg Planning Commission gave its final approval to plans for a new Cleveland Clinic facility on Darrow Road.

Beachwood City Council approved plans for a 113,000 square foot Life Time Fitness Center at Spectrum Parkway and Richmond Road in the Chagrin Highlands. Construction is expected to begin within one or two months.

If the City's negotiations with the Greater Cleveland YMCA and Fairview Hospital are successful, North Olmsted voters will have the opportunity to vote on recreation center plans in November. Construction of a recreation center was a priority identified in the City's 2005 master plan.

Cuyahoga County's self-imposed deadline for reaching an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties is approaching. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners set a 60-day deadline in early January for completing negotiations to manage the proposed Medical Mart. They expect to know if a deal has been reached in about a week.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory data showed that pollution in Ohio increased by 5% in 2006. Releases of toxic substances rose from 277.1 million pounds in 2005 to 291.3 million pounds in 2006. Ohio again led all states in toxic air pollution.

(via Economic News From Ohio's Regions)

Over a dozen out-of-state investment companies that specialize in reselling foreclosed homes are operating in Cleveland. They purchase properties in bulk from banks and then sell the houses without making improvements. The proposed countywide land bank is intended to keep homes out of the hands of speculators.

Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution write in a Plain Dealer op-ed that "Ohio's mantle as presidential battleground state" put it "in a political position to demand fresh solutions" for economic, educational, and urban issues.

Update: in a second Plain Dealer op-ed, Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio offers additional suggestions.

The Economist examined how major hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic have become economic drivers, and also looked at their relationships with their surrounding communities.

(via Smart Communities)

A Plain Dealer editorial about the Port Authority's proposed move concludes that "people who care about Cleveland's future must insist on a plan that allows the city to make the most of its priceless proximity to Lake Erie."

Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation will step down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future next month.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected to reject the K&D Group's bid to purchase the Ameritrust Complex, because the company proposed financing the deal through a $15 million loan from the County. The Commissioners will reopen bidding for the property.

Update: WCPN has more details.

Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, presented a speech titled "Homeownership and America's Future" at the City Club on Friday. His talk is available as a podcast (MP3, 52.8 MB).

A funding shortage may force the Lorain Soil and Water Conservation District to close in May. The Lorain County Commissioners are scheduled to discuss funding for the district next week.

The West Creek Preservation Committee and the Village of Brooklyn Heights are working to gather funding for a trail that will head east out of the Village Park. The trail will form part of the planned West Creek Greenway.

Two Euclid councilmen introduced a resolution that calls for municipal funding for a proposed breakwall. The breakwall is viewed as essential to the construction of a marina and related lakefront development.

The company that proposed building senior housing on the Memphis School site in Old Brooklyn also wants to build cluster homes for seniors along Denison Avenue east of Pearl Road. Both developments are outgrowths of the MetroHealth Senior Health and Wellness Center that opened last year at the former Deaconess Hospital.

The Red Brick Center for the Arts expects to reach an agreement to lease the Old Red Brick Schoolhouse from the Westlake Board of Education by the end of the month. The group plans to raise $3 million prior to starting renovations, and hopes to open the center in summer 2010.

A moratorium on planned residential developments in Twinsburg Township will be lifted on March 11. It has been in place since December 2006.

University Center at Cleveland State University will permanently close on March 17, and it will be demolished this spring. The replacement Student Center is scheduled to open on the site in spring 2010.

Through initiatives like the Fund for Our Economic Future, foundation grants for economic development activities in Ohio have tripled over the last decade. Foundations gave $24.6 million in grants to Ohio economic development programs in 2005.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will spend $150,000 on efforts to reduce the impacts of increased stormwater runoff on Furnace Run and its Rock Creek tributary.

Indiana became the third state to enact the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact when Governor Daniels signed Compact legislation yesterday. Illinois and Minnesota endorsed the Compact last year.

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact yesterday, but the Ohio Senate is considering its controversial alternative version. The eight governors of Great Lakes states again called on state legislators to approve the Compact (PDF) as originally written.

At a public meeting yesterday, prominent Cleveland municipal and business leaders backed the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed move to new facilities.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District will hold community meetings today and tomorrow about the remaining stages of the district's school construction program. The meetings (PDF) tonight will be held at all high schools, and the meeting tomorrow evening will be at prekindergarten-8 schools.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will hang traps for the emerald ash borer in areas where the invasive insect has not yet been detected, including Geauga County, Lake County, and the southern part of Summit County.

$60 Million and Counting (executive summary, 0.6 MB PDF; complete report, 20.2 MB PDF), a new report from ReBuild Ohio and Community Research Partners, says that abandoned homes cost eight diverse Ohio cities $64 million per year and cost Cleveland $35.5 million per year. The total statewide cost may be ten times greater.

Akron-based Summa Health System and a group of Medina-based doctors yesterday announced plans to build a 75,000 square foot outpatient medical complex on Route 18 in Medina and Montville Township. The plans follow the local trend of medical facility construction in exurban areas.

A Plain Dealer feature on University Circle looks at the efforts to turn the institutional archipelago into a more cohesive neighborhood. A companion piece calls the area a "critical engine of growth" in Greater Cleveland.

Roldo Bartimole shares his thoughts about the sale of the Ameritrust complex, Medical Mart negotiations, and Euclid Corridor reinvestment figures.

Reminder: at a public meeting this evening, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will present plans to relocate the port from downtown Cleveland to a man-made site north of East 55th Street. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Philip Neri Community Center.

Charges that a Great Lakes environmental report was suppressed and its author demoted have led to a Congressional investigation of the Centers for Disease Control. A similar controversy surrounded a Canadian report several years ago.

While Indiana and New York are close to adopting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, legislators in Ohio and Wisconsin could scuttle the compact. Ranking Republicans in the Ohio Senate and the Wisconsin Assembly introduced an alternative compact that they say provides a "viable alternative to the problematic wording (MS Word) in the Compact," but Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle accused them of trying to derail the compact.

(via Great Lakes Blogger)

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial again asserts that "there is no place in public life for elected officials who would put at risk the future of Northeast Ohio's most treasured asset."

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development and its engineering consultant recommended an alternative for extending the runway at Cuyahoga County Airport. The alternative (PDF) calls for extending the runway at both ends and realigning Richmond and Bishop Roads. It does not require the acquisition of any residential properties. Willoughby Hills officials remain opposed to the extension.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details and a diagram.

The Ohio EPA proposed a new set of rules to regulate outdoor wood-fired furnaces. Their increasing popularity has led to concerns about air pollution and offensive odors. The agency is accepting public comments on the draft rules through March 7.

Townhomes and lofts at the Avenue District in downtown Cleveland are selling well. The number of units planned for the development has risen from 426 to about 650. Developer Nathan Zaremba feels that nearby parking lots hold the potential for an additional 1,500 homes.

CMHA is planning a five-year, $100 million reconstruction of the 30 acre Garden Valley Family Estates in Kinsman. The plans call for demolishing and replacing the townhomes, and adding a new elementary school and a YMCA branch.

If Euclid's population falls below 50,000 in the 2010 Census, the City may lose its status as an entitlement community and the $1 million it receives annually in Community Development Block Grants.

The Coral Co.'s plans for Central Parc, the proposed 90 acre mixed-use development in Solon call for two upscale departments stores, a 200 room hotel, a medical campus, 140 single-family houses, 215 condominiums, 200 apartments, and 20-25 restaurants.

Fogg Corporate Properties is in the process of purchasing the 83 acre PMX site in Euclid from Commercial Development Co. of St. Louis, and plans to redevelop the property as an industrial park. The company obtained a $1 million brownfields cleanup grant from Cuyahoga County last week, and is seeking a $5 million grant from the Ohio Job Ready Sites program.

The Lyndhurst Planning Commission was disappointed by the preliminary designs for a proposed Aldi supermarket on the site of the demolished Richmond Theatre on Mayfield Road. The City is currently under a six month development moratorium that was enacted in November.

The historic Barton Road Church, moved to the Frostville Museum in 2005, will be rededicated on August 3 as the Frostville Church. The restored church will serve as a museum and wedding chapel.

Fairview Park voters will decide two zoning issues next month. Issue 32 would rezone a 3.5 acre parcel on Mastick Road from single-family residential to an office building classification, and Issue 31 would rezone two properties on Lorain Road owned by Fairview Grace United Methodist Church from general business to civic and recreational.

Brook Park officials anticipate that work on the City's railroad quiet zone project will begin in April. The City is also waiting for CSX to sign permits that will permit the construction of a railway underpass on Snow Road.

The K&D Group proposed privately financing $20 million of the $35 million it bid to purchase the Ameritrust complex from Cuyahoga County, and asked the county for a mortgage on the remaining $15 million. County Commissioners are considering the request.

Yesterday, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment about brownfields redevelopment funding. H.R. 5336, a reauthorization of the the U.S. EPA's brownfields program, was introduced on Tuesday.

Roldo Bartimole objects to the public subsidization of private downtown developments, using the incentives earmarked for the rehabilitation the 668 Euclid complex as an example.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Strickland administration's decision to delay or scuttle the West Shoreway reconstruction project "shows a stunning insensitivity to this community's needs."

RealtyTrac reports that at 2.97%, the Cleveland metropolitan area had the nation's sixth-highest foreclosure rate in 2007. That's up from the area's 2.5% foreclosure rate in 2006, when it was ranked 14th. Detroit topped the list in both years.

Law firm Tucker Ellis & West yesterday became the first office tenants to announce a move to the planned Flats east bank development. The firm reached an agreement to lease 100,000 square feet of a 525,000 square foot tower to be built on a parking lot at West 10th Street and Main Avenue.

RPM International of Medina is considering building a warehouse and distribution center of up to 200,000 square feet at the former White Motors site in Cleveland. The 33 acre site, owned by First Interstate Properties, is north of St. Clair Avenue between East 72nd and East 79th Streets, near the Port Authority's proposed new facilities.

In addition to running the proposed Medical Mart in Cleveland, Merchandise Mart, Inc. wants to operate the proposed new convention center. The existing Convention Center is managed by the City of Cleveland.

An estimated $4.3 billion in new construction has been or will be built along Euclid Avenue between Public Square and University Circle. RTA's $200 million Euclid Corridor project is serving as a catalyst for investments by developers and nonprofit organizations, and may lead to a rebirth of Cleveland's main street.

Adam Wasserman will celebrate his first year at the helm of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority on Tuesday. He has received good reviews from area political and business leaders.

A watchdog group claims that a study by the Centers for Disease Control on health problems near Great Lakes toxic sites was suppressed "because it contains such potentially 'alarming information' as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates." The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit investigative organization, published excerpts of the unreleased report.

Update: a brief piece by Elizabeth Sullivan and an editorial in the Plain Dealer are both highly critical of the CDC's actions.

On Friday, Wells Fargo Bank asked a federal judge to dismiss the City of Cleveland's lawsuit against 21 major investment banks.

On February 19, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will hold a public meeting about the Port's proposed move to a new facility north of East 55th Street.

The City of Richmond Heights will purchase from Cuyahoga County 13 acres along the East Branch of Euclid Creek as part of the City's environmental protection strategy that also included the naming of tributaries of Euclid Creek.

50 housing units for low-income seniors might be developed on the site of the former Memphis School in Old Brooklyn. If approved by Cleveland City Council, the NRP Group could begin construction by 2009.

Cities such as Cleveland, Westlake, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, and Avon Lake are still dealing with the withdrawal of Tops Supermarkets from Northeast Ohio in 2006.

Bahman Guyuran is now proposing a mixed-use development on 42 acres at I-480 and Hadden Road. The previous proposal called for a large shopping mall. The Summit County Planning Commission will review the project, which will also be considered by the Twinsburg Zoning Commission at 7:00 p.m. this Monday.

Attendees at a South Euclid Planning and Zoning Committee meeting suggested that the City consider expanding its plans to create a Mayfield-Green mixed use district in order to create a Crocker Park-like development that would complement Cedar Center. City Council may act on the rezoning proposal at its February 25th meeting.

The City of Parma will host a public meeting on February 14 as part of the Day Drive Corridor Enhancement Study.

The City of Solon might eliminate its three-person Architectural Board of Review, replacing it with a committee that would meet as projects require approval.

Many cities are encountering obstacles in meeting their carbon dioxide reduction goals, despite enthusiasm among citizens and city officials in places such as Cleveland. Even the best-laid plans to reduce emissions have been constrained by budgets, conflicting political ideologies, legal restrictions by states, and people's unwillingness to change.

Nearly 500 people attended the second annual "10,000 Little (micro) Ideas to Keep You Believing in Cleveland." Like last year's event, the participants shared ideas about how to make Cleveland a better city. The suggestions ranged from encouraging wind and other alternative energy to increasing inclusiveness and understanding across demographic boundaries, such as race, economics and age.

North Royalton City Council dropped discussion of the proposed North Royalton Greenways Plan because the plan's main advocates are no longer City Council members. Mayor Stefanik called it "feel good" legislation that wasn't realistic or legal.

On Monday, Solon City Council approved a site plan for Carrington Court, Gross Builders' planned 27.2 acre senior housing development. Company officials do not yet know when construction will begin.

Now that Solon City Council has approved the plans for the Southwoods subdivision, developer DiSanto Enterprises is dropping its lawsuits against the City. However, a neighbor of the proposed development said he will appeal the approval in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Yesterday, the Plain Dealer confirmed that Eaton Corporation is interested in building a new corporate campus on 8.5 acres in the Flats along the Waterfront Line loop. The property is owned by the Port Authority, and Scott Wolstein owns an option to purchase the land for his planned Flats east bank development.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Eaton's move to the Flats would be good for Cleveland.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Sarah Taylor relates how plans to develop an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie near Cleveland have prompted Canadian officials to renew their interest in building a Great Lakes wind farm.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007 last month, but President Bush's proposed budget again includes no funding for the public housing program. ULI's John McIlwain says that the program needs to be continued.

The proposed budget also includes a 15.9% reduction in funding for Great Lakes programs. Update: the Blade has more information about the proposed cuts in Great Lakes funding.

The only Ohio ZIP code on the list of the list of 100 worst hit in December by the foreclosure crisis was 44105, the area around Slavic Village. It was ranked number 51. Last June, it topped the list.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

On Saturday, Channel 3 aired part three of Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface, which tells the environmental story of the lake. Parts one and two are also available online. In addition, the station shared a 1964 report on Lake Erie pollution.

The website for the Regional Economic Revenue Study has been updated with a series of video interviews with Myron Orfield about regional planning and revenue sharing.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord suggests five steps that "could prevent another community-wide foreclosure crisis from ever exploding again."

In a Morning Journal op-ed, State Senator Sue Morano says she expects the Ohio House to ratify the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact this week, and backs its passage in the Senate. She adds that "the Compact's ratification will be good for Ohio - not only in conserving our precious resource that is Lake Erie, but in preserving the extensive economic benefits the lake provides."

On Friday, the Ohio EPA released a draft of its 2008 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. It shows that "water quality is impaired but continues to improve", and that Ohio's 23 largest rivers are nearing the agency's goal to have 80% attainment of aquatic life use by 2010. However, only 55% of the state's streams meet clean water standards. The agency is accepting public comment on the report through February 25.

A group of roughly 50 activists affiliated with the Great Lakes Urban Exchange met this week in Buffalo to discuss and develop an agenda for improving the region.

A Plain Dealer editorial asserts that state and local officials must not let the Ohio Department of Transportation abandon the plans to reconstruct the West Shoreway.

River Network will hold its National River Rally 2008 on May 2-5 in Huron, Ohio.

The Cleveland Clinic would like to demolish the Art Deco Carnegie Medical Building (the former home of the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine) at Carnegie Avenue and East 105th Street and use the site as a parking lot and for possible future development. The University Circle Design Review Committee (PDF) tabled the request, citing incomplete information about the Clinic's proposal.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese has the former St. Joseph Christian Life Center on Lake Shore Boulevard listed for sale at $2.75 million. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission has proposed designating the 1927 building and its 11½ acre lakefront site as a historic landmark.

As part of its Pop Up City program, the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio will conduct a workshop on temporary uses for vacant buildings and sites on February 27. Registration is $10 and limited to the first 68 participants.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission will hold a free half-day workshop on best local land-use practices on March 12 in Valley View.

With several renovation and construction projects underway, Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone believes that "Gordon Square will be synonymous with other destinations like Soho, Dupont Circle and Greenwich Village" within ten years.

At a public workshop last month, planners presented four visions for reconfiguring the commercial district and six-way intersection at Warrensville Center Road and Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights. The City and its partners then selected two ideas for further study. In five to ten years, the City hopes to begin transforming the area into a mixed-use TOD destination. Another workshop will be held on February 27.

Mayor Welo of South Euclid is optimistic about the future of the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council, and hopes to obtain federal or state funding for the proposed regional recreation center.

Under the terms of a preliminary development agreement, the City of Solon would have the right to veto tenants it deems inappropriate for the proposed Central Parc mixed-use development. The agreement also calls for The Coral Co. to design a reconfiguration of the intersection of SOM Center and Bainbridge Roads.

Construction of a planned new Berea Municipal Court building was postponed for two years, due to increased construction costs and a municipal budget shortfall.

The City of South Euclid will not enforce its exterior point-of-sale home inspections law prior to the November election, which will include a referendum measure on the ordinance.

Since Ohio lawmakers removed local oversight of natural gas drilling in 2004, 240 permits have been issued for wells in Cuyahoga County. ODNR officials say that the house explosion in Bainbridge was "very rare" and "unlikely to happen again".

The Chagrin Falls Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a set of variances for the planned Village View condominiums on West Orange Street.

The Chester Master Plan Steering Committee will hold a series of public meetings beginning in mid-February. If there is sufficient public interest, consultants may be hired to lead workshops and update the zoning code.

Officials from the City of Brunswick and Hinckley Township are discussing the possibility of forming a joint economic development district.

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