August 2008 Archives
29 August 2008
Leaders of the Jewish Community Federation appear to favor moving its headquarters to Beachwood, despite advocacy for the existing downtown Cleveland location.
Mayor Jackson's Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee summarized the City of Cleveland's progress over the last year.
The mayor of Brooklyn Heights accused the mayor of Valley View of stealing a business by offering the company a tax break to relocate to Valley View. The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association approved a nonbinding no-poaching resolution in 2006. Valley View Village Council is scheduled to vote on the incentives on Tuesday.
Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the public and local leaders to pressure Valley View officials to drop their plans.
Developers of the Uptown project in University Circle shared information about the planned mixed-use development at a meeting on Tuesday night. They launched a redesigned website today.
27 August 2008
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual income, poverty, and health insurance coverage statistics from the 2007 American Community Survey. In Cuyahoga County, the median household income grew from $41,522 in 2006 to $44,358 in 2007 (a 6.8% increase), while the poverty rate rose from 14.8% to 15.5% (a 4.7% increase). The City of Cleveland's poverty rate also rose, from 27.0% in 2006 to 29.5% in 2007, the nation's second-highest figure among big cities. Detroit had the highest poverty rate for the second consecutive year.
Local government agencies are collaborating to address the slope instability problems along the Cuyahoga River at Irishtown Bend in Cleveland.
Several potential routes have been identified for the planned Big Creek Trail and Neighborhood Connector, and residents are invited to provide input about the proposals at a public meeting this evening in Brooklyn City Hall. The greenway would link the Cleveland Metroparks Big Creek and Brookside Reservations by running through Parma, Brooklyn, and Cleveland.
25 August 2008
Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer critiqued the new Lakewood Public Library. He feels that architect Robert A.M. Stern's neoclassical building "is convincing in many ways, and full of passionate conviction. It's also emotionally cool to a fault and strangely anachronistic, as if the building could have been built 60 to 100 years ago." Construction was completed earlier this year, and the library was rededicated in June.
Developer profiled the efforts of five cities, including Cleveland, to revive neighborhoods damaged by foreclosures and abandonment. Some signs indicate that the housing market may be improving, as Greater Cleveland led the nation for home price gains in April and May.
22 August 2008
The City of Cleveland closed the Columbus Road Lift Bridge in the Flats for at least two months for repairs. In the long term, rebuilding or replacing the bridge could cost more than $31 million. The Cuyahoga County Engineer's office will hold an open house Wednesday at St. Malachi Church in Cleveland to hear opinions from the public.
Cedar Fair may postpone the sale of large portions of the former Geauga Lake site because the company feels that the offers for the land are too low. The delay could provide more time for the roller coaster enthusiasts seeking to preserve the Big Dipper.
Supporters of a downtown headquarters for the Jewish Community Federation proposed an expansion its downtown offices into a campus as an alternative to the proposal to move the headquarters to Beachwood.
Walk+Roll Cleveland's signature event will be held on Sunday in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the renewed interest in the park's Cultural Gardens. Steven Litt is encouraged by the recent activity, but feels that the park and gardens "need to be re-envisioned". ParkWorks and University Circle Incorporated are engaged in a strategic planning process to improve the park.
At a public meeting on Wednesday, Ohio EPA staff expressed "significant concerns" about the Cleveland Clinic's plans to build a new medical campus in Twinsburg. The 86 acre site includes 23.5 acres of wetlands, and the Clinic's plans call for filling in a portion of them. The two sides are in negotiations to resolve the EPA's concerns.
Solon City Council unanimously voted to place the proposed Central Park development on the November ballot, combining the mixed-use zoning classification and rezoning proposals into a single issue. At the City Council meeting, about 50% of the residents who spoke favored the project, down from 75% at a meeting earlier this month. Opponents of the project have organized under the name No Central Park. Meanwhile, the Coral Co. offered a revised road improvement plan that includes a new four-lane connector road.
Parma Heights City Council passed a tax increment financing agreement for the Greenbriar Crossing development at West 130th Street and Pearl Road. The agreement also requires the approval of the Parma Board of Education.
Gross Builders is seeking permission to build more lookalike homes than normally allowed at its Carrington Court senior housing development in Solon.
Orange Village Council is considering legislation that would institute residential point-of-sale inspections.
Some residents and leaders in North Ridgeville object to a pair of proposals from developers who want to build around 900 units of housing on the City's south side.
RTA's Joe Calabrese will speak at the City Club on August 29 about "the many challenges facing the public transit industry during a climate of increased ridership, both locally and nationally."
Alcoa completed the sale of the Ivex Paper Mill complex in Chagrin Falls to a group of local developers for $400,000. They plan to renovate as many of its 28 buildings as they can.
Update: the Chagrin Herald Sun supplies more details.
20 August 2008
RTA leaders anticipate that the expected infusion of funds from NOACA will eliminate the need for major service cuts in the short term. The agency is now planning modest cuts and a fuel surcharge of 25¢ in place of the 50¢ surcharge proposed earlier. RTA will revisit the cuts next year if the state budget does not include increased funding for public transportation.
Update: Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley wants to see a greater percentage of the dollars allocated to the public transit agencies of Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties.
The U.S. EPA released a list of counties it plans to designate as nonattainment areas under new fine particle air pollution regulations. It includes Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. Most Greater Cleveland counties failed to comply with older, less strict standards, so the announcement was not a surprise. The EPA plans to make final designation decisions by December 18.
Forest City Enterprises executives indicated that they do not intend to drastically drop their $40 million asking price for land at Tower City Center for the planned new convention center. Cuyahoga County leaders deemed the price unacceptable, but hope to reach a compromise.
Members of Acacia Country Club in Lyndhurst are considering whether to dissolve the club and sell its 160 acre site for development. Brokers speculate that the property at Cedar and Richmond Roads could be sold off in parts for residential, retail, and office construction.
The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association is preparing to move into the second phase of the Regional Economic Revenue Study. The City of Hudson and the Village of Richfield will apply for funding from Ohio's Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program to support the study.
The 20th Annual OPC Cleveland Planning and Zoning Workshop (PDF) will be held on November 14 at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility in Westlake. Online registration is available.
Cleveland State University broke ground today for its new College of Education and Human Services building on Euclid Avenue. The 97,000 square foot building is scheduled to open in 2010.
Update: WTAM has more details.
18 August 2008
A local development group is trying to revive interest in plans for the Courthouse Plaza high-rise in downtown Cleveland. The tower was first proposed in 1999, but there has been little news since backer Larry Dolan pulled out in 2001.
The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District may replace the incinerators at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cuyahoga Heights. Burning biosolids in the new incinerators would generate enough electricity to make the incineration a carbon neutral operation. A blue ribbon panel will present an official report later this month.
Two NOACA committees will recommend allocating $10.5 million in federal funds to the area's five public transit agencies. RTA is expected to receive the bulk of the money. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Ohio leaders must find a long-term solution to public transit's fiscal crisis.
The Village of North Randall is facing financial adversity caused by the decline of its commercial areas. It was designated a situational distressed community and is receiving assistance from the the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office. If conditions do not improve, the Village may need to merge into a neighboring community.
15 August 2008
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold three public meetings in September about proposed changes to the policies regulating development along the Lake Erie coastline. The Cuyahoga County meeting will be held on September 18 at the Don Umerley Civic Center in Rocky River.
On Monday, Solon City Council is expected to place two zoning issues that would permit the construction of Central Park on the November ballot. The first would create a new mixed-use zoning classification (PDF), and the second would place the 90 acre site of the proposed development into the new district. Meanwhile, opponents of the development have begun to organize.
Backers of the proposed seven city regional fire district are waiting for leaders in the southwest Cuyahoga County communities to decide if they want to continue their participation. The City of Berea may opt out of the process, which could affect the involvement of Olmsted Falls.
The Francis Court Gables townhouses in South Euclid are not selling well, and only one building has been constructed. Developer Jim Teresi wants the City to adopt a residential tax abatement measure. In addition, the proposed Stoneridge Place subdivision and Liberty Court condominiums are on indefinite hold.
Demolition of the structures at Pearl and Whitney Roads in Strongsville is underway, and an expansion of the Renaissance Park shopping center will be built on the site. The first 6,200 square foot building in the 125,000 square foot development (PDF) will open in April.
The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District may build a recycling center on the 55 acre former General Chemical site in Garfield Heights and Cuyahoga Heights. A portion of the brownfield site would become a park which would include the planned Mill Creek trail.
Consultants for Cleveland Public Power are conducting a feasibility study on the potential for establishing a waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station.
Independence leaders are surveying seniors to learn about their housing needs in order to develop a plan for senior housing in the downtown district.
The Clark-Metro Community Development Corporation is trying to reinvent itself as a provider of social services, and will no longer focus on community development activities.
The Twinsburg Architectural Review Board is concerned about the increasing number of historic homes that have been allowed to fall into disrepair and subsequently demolished. Earlier this year, the City discontinued a home repair loan program.
14 August 2008
U.S. Census Bureau population estimates by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin indicate that between 2000 and 2007, Cuyahoga County's Asian population increased by 4,766 and its Latino population increased by 5,882, while the white population declined by 95,307 and the black population declined by 7,006. Nationwide, racial and ethnic minorities now comprise 43% of Americans under 20. The Census Bureau also projects that minorities will account for over half of the country's total population by 2042.
The Federal Highway Administration released data showing that Americans drove less for the eighth straight month, driving 12.2 billion fewer miles (a 4.7% decrease) in June 2008 than in June 2007. Ohio drivers reduced their travel by 442 million miles (4.6%) over the same period.
13 August 2008
In this week's Scene, Michael Gill explores the controversy over the proposed changes to Cleveland's billboard rules and relates the struggle of an Old Brooklyn restaurant owner to remove one billboard.
The Ohio Department of Development will announce additional historic preservation tax credit awards before the end of September. Changes to the rules place a greater emphasis on the potential economic benefits of redevelopment and a more equitable distribution across the state. A large percentage of the round one awards went to projects in Cleveland.
Walking the River (PDF), a new documentary about the Cuyahoga River from Blue Hole Productions, will premiere on August 15 at the Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. WVIZ plans to broadcast the film this fall.
Update: WKSU interviewed the filmmakers.
11 August 2008
The Plain Dealer breaks down the new projected $536 million price tag for building the Medical Mart and convention center, while Roldo Bartimole says that it will cost closer to $1 billion. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the Greater Cleveland Partnership's selection of the Tower City site, but Steven Litt has several concerns about the plans and process. Meanwhile, Positively Cleveland leaders are unhappy about the proposal to divert the bureau's funding for the construction.
The National Park Service is working to reduce automobile traffic in its parks. In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Bike Aboard service has tripled in popularity this summer. It offers cyclists the opportunity to bike the Towpath Trail in one direction and ride the train in the other for a $2 fare.
Although earlier plans to rehabilitate the landmark Fifth Church of Christ Scientist on West 117th Street fell through, Cleveland officials now plan to incorporate the building into a mixed-use redevelopment of its entire block.
The Plain Dealer continues its "Elegant Cleveland" series with a piece on the history of the Moreland Courts towers near Shaker Square.
08 August 2008
As expected, the Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee yesterday recommended locating the planned new convention center and Medical Mart on a riverfront site at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland. The committee estimated that construction costs at the Tower City site would be $536 million and that the costs at the Mall site would be $583 million. Because the expense would be in excess of the County's $400 million budget, the committee offered suggestions for covering the funding gap. They predicted that the County's sales tax increase will bring in $90 million more than initially projected, and also suggested raising or redirecting the county bed tax. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners hope to make a decision this fall.
A pair of Downtown Dialogues were held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings about "the future of Jewish life downtown" and the "priorities for reaching that vision." The Jewish Community Federation is contemplating a move from its downtown Cleveland headquarters to Beachwood, an option opposed by an ad hoc group of Jewish citizens. Steven Litt also feels that its headquarters should remain downtown.
Geis Companies, a local industrial developer, is using the proceeds from its January sale of ten suburban industrial properties to reinvest in projects across Greater Cleveland. Through its Hemingway Development division, the company has made purchases in Brecksville, Boston Heights, Mayfield Village, and Warrensville Heights.
The majority of the 120 Solon residents in attendance at a public hearing about Central Park supported the proposed mixed-use development. Peter Rubin of the Coral Co. indicated that he's considering alternate configurations for the proposed realignment of the intersection of SOM Center and Bainbridge Roads.
Broadview Heights voters may see additional rezoning issues on the November ballot. The Jacobs Group wants to rezone five parcels along Route 82 from office laboratory to general retail.
With assistance from the Grow Lakewood Housing Fund, a Lakewood resident is performing the City's second conversion of a duplex to a single-family house. Work on the Cranford Avenue house may be completed in a few months.
The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is seeking an $80,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development to assist with economic development efforts in its member cities. The funds would also be used to improve the organization's advocacy and outreach capabilities.
06 August 2008
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority unveiled a conceptual draft of its proposed new facilities north of East 55th Street in Cleveland. Port Authority officials intend to reach an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers by next August on building a new dike, with work on the dike to start in 2012 and construction of the port to begin in 2020.
There are currently three community gardens in Cleveland Heights, and increased community interest could lead to more.
Update: a Cleveland Heights resident wants to convert some unused city-owned properties into community gardens.
Ford agreed to pay a $1.4 million fine for failing to upgrade pollution control equipment at its Cleveland Casting Plant in Brook Park. When the company announced plans to close the plant last year, it stopped work on new furnaces and supporting emissions controls needed to comply with air pollution regulations.
The Streetsboro Master Plan Commission is scheduled to recommend a firm to prepare a new master plan on August 14. The selection also requires City Council approval.
05 August 2008
The first condominium created from a two-family house on East Derbyshire Road in Cleveland Heights was just placed on the market. Two others will be completed late this month.
The City of Cleveland's 2010 Active Transportation Plan calls for creating a 180 mile network of bicycle routes, including a City Trail Loop connecting the City's large parks.
About 300 people attended the first of five public hearings about RTA's proposed service cuts and fare surcharge. Roughly 500 people attended a second hearing this afternoon, and additional hearings will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.
Update: Due to the intense public interest, RTA added another hearing to the schedule.
04 August 2008
A preliminary feasibility report about the proposed Central Park development in Solon says that the area can support additional office and retail space. The report is not yet available online, but other studies about the proposal are posted on Solon's website.
Update: the market analysis is now online (14.1 MB, PDF).
University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne advocates for the construction of the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland, and suggests that work should start at East 105th Street in University Circle.
01 August 2008
The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to ratify the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today. The House Judiciary Committee approved the Compact on Wednesday, and the full House is expected to act on it when members return in September. In addition, committees in both houses voted to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
Some community leaders in Cleveland are upset about a proposal to modify the City's billboard regulations, and the City Planning Commission today tabled the issue until August 15 to allow more time to review and discuss the subject.
In an editorial, the Morning Journal supports the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that "it's one issue that should not get lost in the crowd" this November.
North Royalton City Council is resuming its exploration of Low Impact Design stormwater management techniques. Council President Vincent Gentile plans to form a Low Impact Design subcommittee that will make a recommendation to Council late next year.
Renewable Energy World summarizes wind power initiatives in Greater Cleveland, including the Great Lakes Science Center's wind turbine and the potential for an offshore wind farm.
Euclid City Council agreed to allow Providence Baptist Church to indefinitely delay its plans to build 100 homes off of Hillandale Drive. The church still intends to build new facilities on the site.
Plans for the redevelopment of downtown Independence may have a senior housing component. City leaders intend to develop a master plan for the area, and may ask voters to approve the senior housing next year.
Valley View officials are confident that stormwater controls at the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center under construction in neighboring Garfield Heights will prevent additional flooding in Valley View.
The Lakewood Planning Commission approved the placement of buildings for phase three of the Rockport Square development. The preliminary plans call for the construction of office space, a parking deck, and a restaurant, but not the condominiums that were previously part of the plans.
Parma Heights City Council will be asked to approve a tax increment financing package for the Greenbrier Crossing development at Pearl Road and West 130th Street.