Instead of trying to redevelop all of the vacant residential properties in the City's land bank, Shaker Heights officials are encouraging neighbors to purchase some of the sites as side lots. Other suburbs are also interested in alternatives to replacing razed homes.
July 2008 Archives
31 July 2008
The housing bill signed by President Bush yesterday will eventually bring $26.6 million to Cuyahoga County communities for acquisition and rehabilitation or demolition of abandoned houses. The City of Cleveland is expected to receive the majority of the money.
Update: the Plain Dealer analyzed the legislation and clarified that the $26.6 million figure is only an estimate. The Christian Science Monitor also interviewed local officials about its likely implications.
University Circle Inc. and University Hospitals jointly issued an RFP for the construction of a hotel on the site of a parking lot at Euclid Avenue and Cornell Road, directly across the street from UH's planned cancer hospital.
The Politician: A Toy sculpture at Chester Avenue and East 66th Street in Cleveland will move to a new home at Chester Avenue and East 18th Street on the campus of Cleveland State University. The relocation should be completed by the end October.
30 July 2008
Yesterday, Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety about the implications of the court decision that struck down the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. He encouraged Congress to pass a bill that would reinstate the rule.
The National Resources Defense Council rated the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second worst in the nation, an improvement over last year's last place ranking. The annual Testing the Waters report placed the beaches (PDF) at Villa Angela State Park and Euclid Beach State Park among the worst ten for exceeding public health standards.
29 July 2008
28 July 2008
Ohio EPA officials worry that the agency's plans to reduce smog and soot may now be insufficient, because a federal appeals court recently struck down a U.S. EPA rule intended to reduce soot and smog through a cap-and-trade program.
Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges federal leaders to create a replacement for the rejected rule.
At the second "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" panel discussion, Wes Finch, Ari Maron, Chris Ronayne, and Randy Stickler spoke about University Circle developments at the City Club (MP3, 28.1 MB). The next talk, on September 10, will focus on infrastructure and transportation.
Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt finds the renderings of new residential and retail buildings for the Uptown development in University Circle to be "highly encouraging", but cautions that "it's far too soon to declare the project a success."
Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the construction "will lead to a well-rounded University Circle".
Preservationist Steve McQuillin shares his thoughts about the restoration and renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Art's 1916 building, and encourages the museum to continue a public dialogue about the remainder of the expansion plans.
A charter amendment that would forbid development or resource extraction in Highland Heights parks will likely appear on the November ballot. Meanwhile, a natural gas drilling company is suing the City. The company claims that it has authorization to drill in Highland Heights Community Park.
Update: Highland Heights City Council placed the charter amendment on the ballot.
On Friday, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority pledged make at least 482 of its housing units fully accessible to disabled residents within seven years.
25 July 2008
A new report (PDF) from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research predicts that global warming could cost Ohio billions of dollars in the shipping, tourism, and recreation industries if current trends continue unabated.
Update: WCPN presents more details.
With the expectation that construction costs for the Medical Mart and convention center at either the Mall or Tower City sites will exceed $400 million, two Cuyahoga County Commissioners asserted that the budget must either be supplemented by outside sources or a different site should be selected.
Senator Brown's office estimates that the housing stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday will provide approximately $58 million for neighborhood stabilization in 17 Northeast Ohio counties.
Backers of the proposed West Shore Corridor are raising funds for a feasibility study of the commuter rail line that would connect Cleveland and Lorain. They are also seeking a state grant to finance the study.
Update: an editorial in the Morning Journal backs the initiative.
In November, Brecksville voters may have the opportunity to vote on a planned development overlay that would permit the construction of the Brecksville Nursing and Rehab Center, an 80 bed skilled nursing facility on the site of the old Pilgrim Inn.
Update: City Council placed the issue on the ballot.
The developers of the proposed retail and office project and at Tuxedo Avenue and Granger Road in Brooklyn Heights have modified their plans to include two office buildings instead of one. They are still seeking tenants for the development.
The Twinsburg Township Trustees unanimously voted to rezone the site of the proposed Twinsburg Fashion Place shopping center from residential and neighborhood commercial to interchange mixed use.
Update: the Twinsburg Bulletin supplies more details.
Construction of the all-purpose Lake to Lake Trail in Middleburg Heights is continuing, though its expected completion date has been pushed back to spring 2009. The 2.3 mile trail will connect Lakes Abram and Issac.
The City of Cleveland Heights will work with the nonprofit Home Repair Resource Center to rehabilitate vacant houses acquired through HUD's Dollar Homes initiative. City officials estimate that 40% of the 27 houses acquired or being acquired are beyond repair and will be demolished, but the remaining 60% will be refurbished.
24 July 2008
The National Park Service published an environmental assessment for the rehabilitation or replacement of the Fitzwater Truss Bridge and the Waste Weir Bridge over the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio & Erie Canal in Independence. The report's preferred alternative calls for replacing both bridges on a new alignment that would create a four-way intersection at Canal Road. Public comments on the document will be accepted through August 28.
Update: the Sun Courier has more details.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District will accelerate plans for a new west side high school. The school is intended to relieve overcrowding at other buildings. A site has not yet been selected.
Participants in a May planning charrette generated ideas for revitalizing vacant land in Cleveland.
23 July 2008
Bipartisan resolutions for the ratification of the Great Lakes (PDF)-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact were introduced in both houses of Congress this morning. The Senate bill is sponsored by Carl Levin and George Voinovich, and the House bill by John Conyers, Jr., Vern Ehlers, Steve LaTourette, and Jim Oberstar.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a development-finance policy yesterday. The new policy deemphasizes funding for retail developments and encourages investments with regional impacts.
22 July 2008
Cedar Fair is in negotiations with three companies for the sale of the former Geauga Lake site. They reached an agreement with an unidentified buyer for Geauga Lake Hotel and the 11 acres that surround it. Another company is interested in building retail on 100 acres on the west end of the property, and a third wants to build housing on 440 acres between the other two areas. Meanwhile, roller coaster enthusiasts are pessimistic about the future of the historic Big Dipper.
21 July 2008
Forest City Enterprises presented a revised proposal for a new convention center at Tower City Center in an effort to reduce construction expenses. Instead of selling the air rights, the company now wants to sell the property to Cuyahoga County while retaining the right to build above about a third of the structure.
Portage County residents will vote on a 0.5-mill levy for Portage Park District operations. Voters have turned down levy requests four times in the past 12 years. The group Citizens for Portage Parks supports the levy request.
18 July 2008
RTA outlined its proposed service cuts and fare increases. The proposal calls for eliminating all of the community circulators and 12 regular bus routes, as well as reducing service on the Waterfront Line and 21 bus routes. Bus and rapid fares would be raised from $1.75 to $2.25-$2.50. RTA's board is scheduled to vote on the proposals on August 19, and the changes would become effective in October.
Steven Litt approves of the in-progress renovations (PDF) of the Main Classroom at Cleveland State University, saying that "one the ugliest things in Cleveland is now among the most-improved."
Developer Nathan Zaremba remains upbeat about the prospects of his company's Avenue District condominiums in downtown Cleveland.
Enabling legislation for proposed countywide land banks was introduced in both branches of the Ohio Legislature yesterday. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis has been promoting the concept since last year.
Update: WCPN has more information.
Providence Baptist Church is reconsidering its plans to build houses alongside its new church in Euclid, and is seeking City Council's approval to start by building just the church.
Phase II construction of Tremont Pointe could begin as early as next month. The first phase included 102 units of market rate and subsidized housing, and the second phase will add 78 more units.
Leaders of a youth football program are interested in building a fieldhouse on a ten acre site in south or southwest Cuyahoga County. The group has met with officials in Broadview Heights and North Royalton to discuss a possible joint venture.
The senior housing development proposed for the site of the former Memphis School in Old Brooklyn was not selected to receive tax credits through the state's Housing Tax Credit Program. Councilman Kevin Kelley said, "It's not likely that (housing project) will work out so we may be looking at other options for that site."
By a vote of 3-2, the Solon Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a request to rezone two parcels adjacent to Solar Shopping Center, saying that the plans for the properties were too vague and kept changing.
South Euclid City Council was informed that it is too late to amend or rescind the exterior point-of-sale home inspection ordinance it passed last November. The City had a 30 day window to alter the law after residents submitted a referendum petition in December. The issue will appear on the November 4 ballot.
Officials in Rocky River are learning about the engineering costs associated with implementing a railroad quiet zone.
A study commissioned by Cuyahoga Community College recommends rerouting Clemens Road near Crocker Road, not far from Tri-C's planned Westshore Campus. The study and the city engineer maintain that the rerouting would be necessary regardless of whether the campus is built. Westlake leaders are concerned that the campus could exacerbate traffic problems.
17 July 2008
Westlake Reed Leskosky unveiled designs for a 13 story office building at the Ameritrust complex in downtown Cleveland. The glassy tower would sit directly south of the Cleveland Trust Tower. The K&D Group is trying to have the Marcel Breuer-designed tower added to the National Register of Historic Places, and is seeking federal and state historic tax credits.
Walk Score has been updated with new walkability rankings by city and neighborhood. Of the nation's 40 largest cities, the City of Cleveland was ranked as the 14th most walkable. The only Cleveland neighborhood to make the top 100 was downtown, at number 73.
An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the new cost of government study is a "welcome invitation to address boldly the redeployment of resources."
Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Northeast Ohio's redundant and wasteful government structures…erode the very competitiveness of our economy."
One homeowner on the site of the proposed Twinsburg Fashion Place shopping center is refusing to sell her house. Developer Dr. Bahman Guyuron said that "the project is going to go forward, whether she cooperates or not."
RTA will hold five public hearings in early August to discuss a proposed fuel surcharge and service reductions.
14 July 2008
The Center for Governmental Research completed a study for the Fund for Our Economic Future about the cost of government in 16 Northeast Ohio counties. Researchers compiled 1992, 1997, and 2002 Census data to compare Northeast Ohio with selected regions elsewhere in the state and nation. They reported that "while the cost of local government in Northeast Ohio as measured by expenditures per capita was not strikingly different from the other regions examined, there were wide variations in the cost of government when comparing individual counties within Northeast Ohio." Executive summaries, Census data, and data tables are available online.
Update: the Plain Dealer compared Solon with Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Also, WCPN's Sound of Ideas hosted a discussion of the study.
Although the development has been delayed, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority still plans to build a new headquarters in Cleveland's Forgotten Triangle.
11 July 2008
The Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office today announced the launch (PDF) of a beta version of the Cuyahoga Enterprise Geographic Information System, an online countywide GIS application.
Update: the Plan Dealer has more information about the site.
The U.S. Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates indicate that Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs continued to lose population. Between July 2006 and July 2007, Cleveland's population dropped by an estimated 5,067 people, about 1.1% of its total. While it was the largest numerical drop in the nation, it was a smaller annual decrease than in the last several estimates. Cleveland officials believe that the City is poised to start reversing the trends, and downtown Cleveland has been gaining population. Population tables are available for download from NODIS.
Officials from the Chicago Transit Authority are studying the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project as they prepare to launch their own bus rapid transit line next year.
The Solon Herald Sun describes the development agreement for the proposed Central Park project. Solon officials and residents recently discussed the mixed-use development with Coral Co. President Peter Rubin.
At a Medical Mart forum on Wednesday, Cuyahoga County and MMPI officials urged patience in the site selection process. They still hope to name a site this month, and may seek outside funding sources if construction costs are too high. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages leaders to "assign the Medical Mart a much higher level of disclosure than the normal development deal."
The cities of Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and North Royalton passed legislation in support of the Chippewa Creek Balanced Growth Initiative.
Alcoa accepted a bid from a partnership of three Chagrin Valley residents for the historic Ivex mill in Chagrin Falls. The price was not disclosed. They plan to convert the 1841 building to a community center featuring a hotel, theater, and microbrewery.
The Gund Foundation announced its latest round of grants, which include $50,000 to the West Creek Preservation Committee for the West Creek Confluence Project.
A company is seeking a conditional use permit to build a four-story extended stay hotel near the I-480 exit at Tiedeman Road. Brooklyn officials are concerned that it could interfere with their plans to redesign the interchange.
The Cleveland Metroparks will purchase a 14.3 acre site south of the North Branch Preserve for $700,000. Solon City Council approved a conservation easement for the property and contributed $45,000 toward its purchase.
Some members of Twinsburg City Council want to eliminate the City's department of community planning and development. They are considering a charter amendment that could appear on the November ballot.
Governor Granholm of Michigan and Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania signed Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact legislation earlier this week. The Compact has now been adopted by all eight Great Lakes states. John McCain and Barack Obama both expressed their support for Congressional ratification of the Compact.
09 July 2008
Architect Winy Mass will continue to work on designs for an expansion of the Cleveland Institute of Art. His first proposal for the expansion was dropped because construction costs would have been too high.
GreenCityBlueLake provides an update on bicycle planning in Cleveland. The City received an honorable mention as a Bicycle Friendly Community in May, and the League of American Bicyclists provided suggestions (PDF) for earning a full designation. A complete streets resolution has been prepared (PDF) for consideration by Cleveland City Council. The City also applied to participate (PDF) in the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program if Congress reauthorizes it in the 2010 transportation bill.
A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended narrowing the focus of its financing activities. If the strategy is approved by the full board, the Port Authority will shift its priority to providing financing for maritime, logistics, or distribution companies, and for businesses that will move to a proposed international trade district near the planned new port facilities. The Port Authority had previously promoted itself as a source of low-cost financing for a variety of developments.
This week's Free Times includes another look at the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland and its disproportional impacts on African Americans.
The Federal Highway Administration awarded $767,193 to the City of Cleveland for road construction at the Flats east bank development. The funds will be used to relocate Front Street and Old River Road and to build a new street and a trail.
08 July 2008
At the request of the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Attorney General's Office filed a 25-count complaint against the owners and operators of City View Center in Garfield Heights. The lawsuit alleges (PDF) that departures from approved plans resulted in insufficient controls for erosion, leachate management, and methane collection.
Update: the Garfield-Maple Sun supplies more details.
If the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland moves its headquarters to the suburbs from downtown Cleveland, Cleveland State University has expressed an interest in using the existing building for offices. It was built in 1965 and designed by noted modernist architect Edward Durell Stone.
07 July 2008
A story in yesterday's Akron Beacon Journal examines the overbuilt retail market in Summit County. It references the Northeast Ohio Regional Retail Analysis and the 2007 follow-up study done by Cleveland State students.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate approved the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The agreement has now been passed by all eight state legislatures. When the bills are signed by the governors of Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Compact will move to the U.S. Congress for ratification.
Update: NPR presents more details.
If the proposed rezoning for the Twinsburg Fashion Place development is approved, members of the Twinsburg Board of Education expect that they will be asked to authorize a TIF package for the retail project.
A 140 room hotel has been proposed for a property near the I-480 interchange at Great Northern Boulevard in North Olmsted. The 13.59 acre site is currently zoned for office development, and would require a rezoning to proceed.
03 July 2008
Steven Litt considers how outgoing CSU President Michael Schwartz has improved the campus through better master planning. He says that Schwartz's retirement announcement provides an opportunity to "reflect on just how much the city owes him, not just for raising academic standards over the past seven years, but for scrapping the university's old plan and coming up with something far better."
The City of North Royalton and the Coral Co. decided to terminate a 2005 agreement for the development of the mixed-use Town Center District. In a statement, the City said that it "remains committed to pursuing the Town Center concept." However, it also removed materials relating to the development from its website.
A stakeholders group is exploring ideas for improving the Detroit Road streetscape in downtown Rocky River. Mayor Bobst said that the group wants "a unified district that is pedestrian friendly."
Road improvements will be needed if the proposed Central Park project is approved. Solon City Council is considering two road improvement plans, both of which include a new connector road between Aurora and Solon Roads. Meanwhile, the Coral Co. denied an accusation that it's trying to lure tenants from Solar Shopping Center to Central Park. The City will hold a public hearing about Central Park on August 4.
02 July 2008
Cleveland State's Ned Hill appeared on this week's episode of Smart City Radio to talk about the Cleveland District of Design. He described economic development as "the art of connecting the dots that nobody else sees."
The Free Times examines the potential for the blockage of the Cuyahoga River Federal Navigation Channel and critiques local and federal efforts to address slope subsidence and bulkhead failure issues that threaten the shoreline.
The E-Check program was extended through the end of June 2009 for seven Greater Cleveland counties. Ohio will pay for the program through general revenue funds, and not the tobacco settlement money that was previously used.
The Kresge Foundation awarded a $1 million challenge grant to Great Lakes Theater Festival for the renovations of the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square.
The historic May Company building on Public Square in Cleveland will be redeveloped as retail and residential space. The ground floor is slated to house a restaurant and a nightclub, and the upper stories will be renovated as residences and possibly a small hotel. An earlier renovation attempt called for converting it into the Public Square Tech Center.
North Royalton leaders recently passed a measure requiring increased notification when an oil or gas well is drilled. At least one company intends to ignore the new rules, because they are unenforceable under state law.
01 July 2008
An RTA committee recommended this morning that the agency should consider making cuts in service and adding a $.50 fuel surcharge per ticket. RTA's projections indicate that it would lose $20 million next year if no changes are made. A Plain Dealer editorial suggests that fare increases are preferable to service cuts, and that "Ohio should find new, creative ways to funnel more money to public transit."
Update: The RTA provides budget scenarios in a summary of the meeting. A Morning Journal editorial says that transit funding shortages are a "financial challenge that can only be met by spreading the cost nationwide."
The Trust for Public Land reached an agreement with the Musical Arts Association that could lead to the transfer of 620 undeveloped acres around Blossom Music Center to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Musical Arts Association will retain the 140 acres occupied by Blossom facilities. The agreement is contingent upon appropriations from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information.
At a public meeting last evening, users of the East 55th Street Marina in Cleveland expressed their skepticism about the port relocation plans. The Port Authority's plans call for removing and replacing the marina.
Cleveland Magazine took a quick look at the redesign of the plaza surrounding the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building at East 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue in downtown Cleveland. It will include a decorative screen by Los Angeles artist Pae White.