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June 2008 Archives

The Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee for the Medical Mart and new convention center again delayed making a recommendation. Chairman Fred Nance said that construction estimates for the Mall and Tower City sites are "are way over budget." The group now intends to make a recommendation to the Cuyahoga County Commissioners by late July.

Site preparation is continuing for the retail development at I-71 and Route 82 in Strongsville, although no plans have been officially announced. Developer Visconsi Companies may reveal its plans in July.

The Plain Dealer began a new series about the "finest elements of Cleveland's stylish history" with a look at the history of the Lake Shore in Lakewood.

Members of an AIA Sustainable Design Assessment Team visited Parma last week to learn more about the City. Earlier this year, Parma was selected as one of ten cities to receive technical assistance. The team will return in October to share their recommendations.

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed the bill ratifying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Legislators in Michigan also passed the agreement, and Governor Granholm is expected to sign it, leaving Pennsylvania as the only state that has yet to approve the Compact.

Congressional candidate Bill O'Neill wants to revive plans for two commuter rail lines, the Lakeshore Line, which would connect Cleveland to Painesville and Ashtabula and the Aurora Line, which would connect Cleveland to Solon and Aurora. His opponent, Rep. LaTourette, also supports commuter rail.

Governor Strickland directed $4 million in state funds to the planning of the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland. Financing sources for the $250 to $500 million project remain unclear.

A concrete-breaking celebration (PDF) for the West Creek Confluence Project will be held on July 11 in Independence.

Update: the Plain Dealer supplies more information.

Greater Ohio Co-Director Gene Krebs is touring the state to promote the organization's Restoring Our Prosperity initiative. He was in Hamilton last week and met with Ashtabula leaders on Wednesday. The effort is part of the Brookings Institution's Restoring Prosperity initiative, which provides an agenda for revitalizing the nation's older industrial cities.

(via Restoring Prosperity and Advance Northeast Ohio)

The Valley View Planning Commission approved plans for the Preserves at Hathaway Farm subdivision. An earlier proposal called for 23 homes on on 13.2 are site, but the approved design has 20 homes. The property is adjacent to the Kukoleck farmstead in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Superintendent John Debo hopes the development's impacts can be minimized.

The Coral Co. decided not to pursue an assisted living component for the mixed-use Central Park project. Meanwhile, the owner of nearby Solar Shopping Center accused the Coral Co. of trying to steal his tenants for the proposed development.

A March rezoning issue in Solon was recently upheld in Common Pleas Court. The attorney for the residents challenging its validity said he would appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The sale of Randall Park Mall is not proceeding as expected. Mayor Smith of North Randall said that "Cincinnati United Contractors is still involved, but at this point it's hard for me to say at what level - if it will be a significant level or if it will be a minimal level." Officials also asked the state to designate the Village as a situational distress area, which would give it priority in state loan and grant programs.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Tuesday for the new baseball stadium in Avon. Last week, the City awarded a contract for its construction and agreed to a lease with the owners of a Frontier League expansion team. The ballpark was designed by RWL Architects and Osborn Engineering.

Channel 3 aired stories about the increasing popularity of community gardening in Cleveland (video) and about the Farmland Center's FarmLink (video) program.

Crib Notes is the new weblog of Plain Dealer real estate reporters Shaheen Samavati and Michelle Jarboe. Its posts are incorporated into Cleveland.com's new real estate news section.

Rising fuel prices and falling sales tax revenue may force RTA to make cuts in service, despite recent ridership increases. General Manager Joe Calabrese anticipates that RTA will lose $8 million this year.

The City of Cleveland announced $4.6 million in Housing Trust Fund allocations for ten residential developments. All employ green building techniques. The projects are evenly divided between renovations and new construction.

Update: Crib Notes provides more details.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Ohio has done the right thing" in reviving the Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland recently led a guided tour of six residential developments under construction across the region. Cleveland.com has video from the tour.

Pathways to Foreclosure, a new report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University, says that subprime lending accounted for 84% of the foreclosures on home loans within Cuyahoga County in 2005 and 2006. It also says that lenders targeted African American borrowers and neighborhoods for subprime loans, similar to previous redlining problems. Meanwhile, today's Sound of Ideas show discussed a report released last week that detailed the impacts of foreclosures on renters.

The Richard E. Jacobs Group purchased an 89 acre property near the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. Earlier this year, the property was rezoned for commercial development. The company is also pursuing a purchase and rezoning of a neighboring 110 acre site.

Steven Litt shares some thoughts about the proposed Public Square tower, the plans for the Ameritrust complex, and the Medical Mart. Roldo Bartimole speculates about the lack of recent Medical Mart news.

Richard Longworth, author of Caught in the Middle and Akron Beacon Journal Managing Editor Doug Oplinger were the guests on this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, where they discussed the Midwest's lack of competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The Plain Dealer's Elizabeth Sullivan says that if Ohio's congressional delegation can cooperate across party lines, the state is well-positioned to gain federal investments in intercity passenger rail. She also notes that "a Chicago-to-Cleveland high-speed rail line is one of only 12 authorized routes that will be grandfathered" into Amtrak reauthorization legislation.

In the fourth and final part of the Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface series of specials, WKYC looked to the future. The show examined lakefront plans, legislative initiatives, economic opportunities, and our drinking water. All four shows are available online.

Brad Masi of the New Agrarian Center describes how community gardening can be used to combat food deserts, using a new community garden at Huron Hospital in East Cleveland as an example.

MyHometownOhio lists the changes to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program that were made as part of the recent economic stimulus package.

Update: The Plain Dealer has more details about the changes.

While the Lakewood City Schools planned to build or renovate seven elementary schools in its school construction program, the Ohio School Facilities Commission will only commit to funds for six, citing projected declines in enrollment. The District will form a task force to determine if residents want to independently fund construction of the seventh school.

One of the side effects of the foreclosure crisis is an increase in overgrown lawns, which has forced local municipalities to spend money and time on maintaining the vacant properties.

The 1,100 acre Lakeview Bluffs development in Fairport Harbor, Painesville, and Painesville Township could take 25 years and $1 billion to complete. Construction is expected to begin in 2010. CSU professor Robert Simons says it "could very well be the largest construction project Lake County sees in the next 100 years."

A group of local developers purchased six acres in Midtown for a project that could include retail and offices or homes. The site is across the street from the Dunham Tavern on Euclid.

Plans for the extension of the Towpath Trail from Harvard Road to Steelyard Commons include the construction of a tunnel and two new bridges. Consultant DLZ has posted materials from this week's public meeting, and is accepting public comments.

Collateral Damage, a new report from Policy Matters Ohio, says that renters in Cuyahoga County increasingly face evictions due to lenders foreclosing on their landlords. The report estimates that there were 3,918 foreclosure filings on rental units in Cuyahoga County last year, a 29% increase from 2006.

By a vote of 10-4, the board of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District decided to put a 1 mill, five-year levy on the November ballot in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights. The board's president says that it would raise enough money to demolish and replace the existing Tri-City Senior Center and cover operating expenses and programming.

Cleveland City Living reports that the conversion of several Euclid Avenue buildings to the University Lofts condominiums will begin next month.

The General Environmental Management plant in the Flats will close rather than make fire safety improvements to the facility. The plant had been cited for potential violations of clean air laws and suffered an explosion and fire in 2006.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge apparently upheld the ward approval provision of Solon's referendum zoning law, saying that there were "no voting irregularities" in the March election.

Euclid officials have undertaken a major rewrite of the City's zoning code and map. The first area to undergo revisions is the campus/institutional classification. The Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss the changes at meetings on June 24 and July 8.

The Solon Board of Education retained a law firm to represent them in TIF negotiations with the City and the Coral Co. The company is seeking a TIF for 75% of the non-school area in the proposed 90 acre Central Park development.

The City of Rocky River maintains a spreadsheet of vacant office, warehouse, and commercial properties that are for sale or lease. It is available on the City's website.

The Euclid City Schools expect to receive school construction funds from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and will either convert Euclid Square Mall into the proposed K-8 Euclid Educational Center or will build new elementary and middle schools. One drawback of the mall site is that it would necessitate busing for nearly all students.

The Living Cities Consortium gave a $500,000 grant to Neighborhood Progress Inc. The funds will be used to demolish 100 houses in Cleveland and to renovate 50 others. NPI also expects to receive a $1 million low-interest loan.

An editorial in today's Plain Dealer says that the proposed seven city joint fire district "should not be abandoned simply because some with parochial interests are voicing concerns."

The Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus upheld a challenge of Ohio Senate Bill 18. The legislation passed in 2005 stripped most zoning authority from Ohio counties and townships. The Attorney General's office has not yet decided whether to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court

The majority of people at the Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting on Tuesday expressed a desire for better public transit service, and many said that Ohio needs to become less dependent on highways. The final regional Task Force meeting will be held on Monday in Akron.

The Plain Dealer briefly looked at the positives and challenges of reusing former school buildings, including the threatened Avon Center School.

In this week's Free Times, Ted Schwarz writes about living in downtown Cleveland.

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held a field hearing in Cleveland about the foreclosure crisis. Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters led the nearly five hour meeting, which was also attended by five members of Ohio's congressional delegation. Recent stories about Cleveland in the national media have drawn attention to the issue, and the Plain Dealer used East 144th Street in Mount Pleasant as an example of the impacts of foreclosures.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the subcommittee's Cleveland appearance "reflects the severe financial and social repercussions across the country."

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, could fund up to 80% of intercity passenger rail projects. It could provide dollars for the Ohio Hub plan and the proposed 3-C corridor.

15 people applied to operate the three available farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

In anticipation of today's Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting, WCPN's Sound of Ideas program hosted a discussion of the issues this morning.

The Cleveland Museum of Art's board of trustees yesterday voted unanimously to proceed with the second and final phase of the Museum's expansion project. The completion date for the $350 million expansion was pushed back one year to 2012.

The landmark Big Dipper roller coaster was tentatively sold to an undisclosed buyer at the Geauga Lake auction today. The purchaser intends to move it to an as-yet unannounced location and reassemble it "not as a ride, but as a nostalgia piece."

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport received an $880,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to study noise pollution issues. The funds will be used to place sound monitors in communities near the airport. If areas with noise levels that exceed federal standards are found, Hopkins officials will seek federal funding for soundproofing homes.

Arsonists have burned 98 vacant homes in Cleveland this year. Last year, there were fires at 231 vacant homes in the City. Investigators believe that some of the blazes are tied to mortgage or insurance fraud.

NASA Glenn officials are reviewing 11 proposals for a new 90,000 square foot central office building. They expect to award the design contract for the $28 million building by August. It's scheduled to open in early 2012. The construction is part of a $150 million redesign of the NASA campus.

An Akron Beacon Journal says that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact "is essential to the region effectively managing a most valuable resource, one-fifth of the planet's fresh water." Toledo Blade columnist Tom Henry says that the "eight-state agreement could go down in history as one of the most important of our era."

The economic stimulus package signed yesterday by Governor Strickland includes a renewal of the Clean Ohio program. If Ohio voters approve the $400 million bond issue in November, funding for the program will be doubled. Half of the funds would be used for brownfield remediation, and the other half would support greenspace conservation, trail construction, and farmland preservation.

The owners of the Sports Dome (the former Golf Dome) in Valley View intend to replace the facility with a new building.

The final draft of the redevelopment plan for the 60 acre Warrensville-Van Aken commercial district was shown to Shaker Heights City Council this week. Council members were generally positive about the plan, but had questions about finding funds for the $70 million redevelopment and reconfiguration.

Cleveland Heights residents would like the Cedar-Fairmount district to be more pedestrian-friendly. Planners are evaluating several options, including narrowing Cedar Road from six to four lanes. A second public workshop will be held in September.

Workers finished excavating a 137-foot-long tunnel last week for the Lake to Lake Trail in Middleburg Heights. The trail should be completed next spring.

Chris Ronayne of University Circle Inc. is interested in creating an "uptown community alliance" that would market Shaker Heights "as housing stock in University Circle."

Strongsville was one of four Greater Cleveland communities to host National Center for Bicycling and Walking workshops aimed at finding ways to make the City friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Mayor O'Grady of North Olmsted pulled back his plans for a new recreation center and an income tax increase. He intends to revisit the proposal in the future.

A recently-demolished building at the Cleveland Technology Center on Rockwell Avenue will temporarily be replaced by a surface parking lot. Matrix Realty Group plans to build a 180,000 square foot building on the site, and must complete construction by 2009 in order to receive the full amount of a 2006 grant from the Job Ready Sites Program.

RTA Park-N-Ride buses are becoming crowded due to recent ridership increases. High fuel costs and budget constraints prevent RTA from running additional buses.

Update: the Plain Dealer also covered the subject.

The City of Bedford completed the renovation of two HUD homes, and will sell them later this month through a sealed bid process. The city is also working on five other HUD homes that it has acquired.

Concerned by the continuing increase in the number of new natural gas and oil wells, the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association is examining what local communities can do to address noise and safety issues.

The fire chiefs of seven cities in southwest Cuyahoga County wrote a seven page letter listing their concerns about the proposed seven city joint district. They suggested a more gradual approach, starting with a two or three city district.

Attendees at an Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting in Toledo yesterday urged the state to invest more in public transportation. The Task Force will hold a Cleveland meeting on Tuesday.

South Euclid officials say that demolition of the north side of Cedar Center may begin in August. At Cleveland State, exterior demolition of University Center started this morning.

Ohio Republican legislators were able to appease Democrats in the Ohio House, and as expected, the House approved placing the proposed water rights constitutional amendment on the November ballot and the Ohio Senate unanimously voted in favor of joining the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Governor Strickland said he would sign the Compact.

Update: the Blade and the Plain Dealer have more details.

InterContinental Hotels Group announced plans to open a Hotel Indigo in the Cleveland Trust Tower. The 140 room boutique hotel will occupy the tower's first 12 floors, and is scheduled to open in spring 2010. The K&D Group plans to convert the upper floors into 165 to 180 apartments.

The slow housing market has delayed the start of work on the Cliffs on Rocky River condominiums in Lakewood. Developer Rick Foran now hopes that the first units will be ready for occupancy by 2010.

Update: the Lakewood Sun Post supplies details about the extension of the TIF agreement.

A column by Becky Gaylord of the Plain Dealer says that, "Too often, Cleveland ignores owners of abandoned or neglected houses that lure crime and kill nearby home values." She feels that the City focuses too much on demolitions, and does not employ other tools, like receivership, enforcement crackdowns, and property registration.

Local employees have adopted a variety of policies to help employees deal with rising commuting costs, and RTA reports that Park-N-Ride ridership increased by 4% between April 2007 and April 2008. At the same time, nonprofits, governments, and businesses are encouraging Ohioans to reduce idling in order to save gasoline and reduce pollution.

Ohio has changed its approach to the emerald ash borer over the last five years, shifting from efforts designed to block its spread to education, outreach, and management. The invasive insect has been discovered in 35 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Audio of Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis's (MP3, 26.1 MB) recent talk about the foreclosure crisis and the proposed countywide land bank is now available from the City Club.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will present the port relocation plan at a second public meeting on June 16 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Cleveland.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership's Medical Mart site selection committee pushed back its plans to make a recommendation by several weeks.

In addition to the other projects mentioned earlier, the Ohio capital budget bill includes $500,000 for lakefront development in Euclid.

Update: the bill also includes $150,000 for the renovation of League Park, $100,000 for the redesign of the Euclid Beach Pier, and $15,000 for the completion of a walking trail in Parma Heights.

At the first of three community meetings about the Pearl Road/West 25th Street Comprehensive Transportation Study, Cleveland residents offered suggestions for improving the corridor. The work is partially funded by a 2006 TLCI grant.

Yesterday, the Fund for Our Economic Future awarded four grants totaling $4.98 million to spur regional economic development efforts. The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association received $50,000 for further analysis of revenue sharing and regional land use planning through the Regional Economic Revenue Study.

A Cincinnati company signed a contract to purchase Randall Park Mall for an undisclosed price. The company plans to keep the mall open while it explores ideas for redeveloping the property. Redevelopment possibilities include schools, medical businesses, offices, hotels, or retail.

Repairs of corroded steel parts on the Innerbelt Bridge are expected to cost roughly $10 million, not the $4 million anticipated last month. The work is scheduled to start in late July or early August and to end about a year later.

As part of its preparations for a regional stormwater management program, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is conducting an extensive study of the Cuyahoga River watershed.

The Plain Dealer explored the interest in and potential for cohousing in Cleveland in anticipation of today's cohousing forum at CSU.

Update: audio of the session (MP3, 167.2 MB) is now available.

The Regionally Speaking series of the Western Reserve Studies Symposium continues with a pair of conversations about the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

A study funded by the Coral Co. says that the company's proposed Central Park development would generate $65.21 million in tax revenues and fees for the City of Solon over a 20 year period. The company and the City do not agree on how best to share the costs of various studies on the proposed mixed-use development.

Job Opportunities for the Green Economy (PDF), a new study (PDF) from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, reports on the potential employment benefits from building a green economy in 12 states. It concludes that in Ohio, "there are more than 551,000 jobs (PDF) in a representative group of job areas that could see job growth or wage increases by putting global warming solutions to work."

ODOT's Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force will hold one of its seven statewide transportation conversations at Cleveland State University on June 17. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting, complete an online survey, and provide ideas and opinions.

Last month, the Cleveland Restoration Society and AIA Cleveland gave their annual preservation awards to 13 projects in Northeast Ohio.

(via Cool Cleveland)

The K&D Group completed its purchase of the 668 Euclid building on Friday. The conversion of the building to about 240 apartments and 65,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space could be finished by early 2010.

The new issue of the Heights Observer includes a look at the Severance Center area, an essay on the prospects of a Cleveland Heights-University Heights merger, and more details about the transportation and streetscape planning process in the Cedar-Fairmount district. The City of Cleveland Heights is currently conducting a stakeholder survey.

North Randall officials are preparing for the financial repercussions from the impending closure of Randall Park Mall, which accounts for 33% of the Village's general fund. Mayor Smith asked the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office for assistance with late-night patrols.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that this is "a textbook case of why we need" a regional approach to governing.

Yesterday's Plain Dealer included a rundown of the downtown Cleveland development projects that have a retail component. The article examined Bob Stark's Warehouse District plans, ideas for the redevelopment of Euclid Avenue, the Avenue District, and the Flats east bank development.

Preliminary testing indicates the presence of some unstable soil at downtown Cleveland's malls, potentially increasing the cost of convention center and Medical Mart construction at the site.

Commuters are showing more interest in carpooling and public transportation because of the high gas prices. New user registrations at OhioRideshare increased from an average of a dozen per month to more than 130 per month in April and May.

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