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September 2008 Archives

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a two-year reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The Senate bill was at the current funding level of $54 million per year, not the $150 million per year approved by the House earlier this month. The House adopted the Senate version of the bill on Sunday.

The final two stories in WKSU's NEO Development series explore the role of fresh water in the region's redevelopment and how historic preservation and adaptive reuse are helping to create a sense of place.

Steven Litt is not impressed by the exterior architecture of the Cleveland Clinic's new Miller Family Pavilion and Glickman Tower, but is more pleased with their interiors and the work of landscape architect Peter Walker. He also writes about the work of Justin Glanville at Building Cleveland by Design.

The Plain Dealer took a look at how communities across Greater Cleveland are adopting sustainable processes.

In this month's Cleveland Magazine, Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs writes about the longevity and evolution of her South Euclid neighborhood.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges voters to approve Issue 2, the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, calling it a "a sound investment that benefits both urban and rural Ohioans."

Statistics released by the BEA show that the five-county Cleveland MSA had the 26th-largest GDP of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas. However, it was also one of only 55 metropolitan areas to see a contraction of its economy between 2005 and 2006. The region's losses were attributed to a decline in manufacturing.

Ohio received more than $258 million of the $3.92 billion allocated by HUD for foreclosure relief. Cleveland's share was $16.1 million, and Cuyahoga County's was $11.2 million. The cities of Akron, Elyria, Euclid, and Lorain also received funds, as did Lake and Summit counties.

Remediation of two brownfield sites in Euclid has been completed, and the Ohio EPA issued a covenant not to sue. Cleanup was finished at the 66.2 acre Euclid Business Park and at an 8.5 acre property owned by Lincoln Electric Co.

Shaker Heights City Council confirmed its support of the redevelopment plan for the Warrensville-Van Aken area. The City will work with the Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office to obtain an ODOT grant for reconfiguring the six-way intersection.

The Great Lakes Science Center broke ground on a connector that will link the museum to the Steamship William G. Mather Museum.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and News-Herald praise Congress for passing the Great Lakes Compact.

Councilman Santiago will announce plans for an international village centered around the intersection of West 25th Street and Clark Avenue in Cleveland. His intent is to create a brand for the area.

Chagrin Falls leaders say they need more information about the plans for the former Ivex mill before voting on a requested rezoning.

Orange Village Council tabled a vote on a proposed residential point-of-sale ordinance. They may vote on amended legislation on October 1.

A study conducted for the City of Euclid says that there is enough demand for a marina in the planned Harbor Town development.

Hospice of the Western Reserve proposed building a new facility on Crocker Road in Westlake, but City officials asked the agency to consider building on a site near St. John West Shore Hospital.

The Shaker Heights Landmark Commission gave its 2008 Preservation Awards to First Baptist Church, Plymouth Church, and the Shaker Heights City Schools. In Strongsville, the renovated Old Town Hall was formally reopened.

In addition to the proposed southwest Cuyahoga County regional fire district, the cities of Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River, and Westlake have begun exploring the formation of a joint fire district.

Carol Schultz, owner of the last farm in Solon, has resisted offers to sell her land to developers.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hired Pam Davis to fill its new environmental/sustainability manager position.

This week's Scene summarizes the most recent events in the convention center saga and questions decisions in the site selection process.

Cleveland City Council will soon consider legislation that would permit more residents to raise chickens in their yards.

The Cleveland Clinic submitted revised plans for a new medical complex off of Darrow Road in Twinsburg. The changes are intended to lessen the impacts upon the 86 acre site's wetlands and springs.

On Tuesday, the RTA board approved changes that include a small reduction in service. Because it received $9 million in federal CMAQ funds from NOACA, RTA was able to make more modest cutbacks than initially proposed.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today by a vote of 390-25. Representatives Kucinich and Kaptur were among those voting against it. The Senate approved the Compact in August, and President Bush has indicated that he will sign it.

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data covering 2007 social, economic, and housing characteristics. The data was interpreted in a variety of fashions:

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the data for Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan areas, Ohio, and the nation.

The second Great Lakes Bioneers - Cleveland conference will be held at the CSU Levin College of Urban Affairs on October 17-19. It will be one of 18 locations participating in the Beaming Bioneers program. On October 20-21, Baldwin-Wallace College will host a Sustainability Symposium that will feature Stuart Hart as its keynote speaker.

WKSU is airing NEO Development: Rebuilding Northeast Ohio, a week-long series that explores the future of development in the region. The first story in the series looks at the Cleveland District of Design.

Best Performing Cities 2008 is a new report from the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners that ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by "how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth." Of the 200 largest metropolitan areas studied, Greater Cleveland was ranked number 193. Most cities in Ohio and Michigan fared poorly on the list.

(via Planetizen)

On Friday, WCPN's Sound of Ideas examined the conflicts between bicyclists and motorists.

An Akron Beacon Journal backs the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that it "has been a catalyst for change in the state's economy."

Lakewood officials are considering the creation of an arts district zoning overlay (PDF, p. 35) that would be applied to the areas surrounding the Beck Center for the Arts, Birdtown, and Virginia Marti College.

Eaton is reluctant to move to the Flats because the nine acre site on the east bank is too small for the campus the company intends to build. Mayor Jackson said that the City did all it could to keep the company's headquarters in downtown Cleveland, but a Plain Dealer analysis notes that Jackson's emphasis on regionalism left him with little room to protest a move to Beachwood. The City and Port Authority are looking at other development options for the Waterfront loop property.

By a vote of 371-20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The reauthorization bill now moves to the Senate. If enacted, it will triple the annual funding for cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Voters in Broadview Heights will see eight rezoning issues on the November ballot, and City officials have begun researching other possible future changes.

Brooklyn City School District administrators support the plan for creating a citywide community reinvestment area.

The City of Solon and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will purchase, restore, and preserve a 14 acre property southwest of the intersection of SOM Center Road and Hawthorn Parkway. It includes the headwaters of the south branch of Sulfur Springs, a Chagrin River tributary. The City helped to preserve another 14 acre site in June.

Construction of the Hillcrest Hospital expansion in Mayfield Heights is underway. The work is scheduled to be finished in 2010. In Middleburg Heights, plans were announced for a new 21,100 square foot medical office building next to the Big Creek Surgery Center on Bagley Road.

The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is seeking funding from the state's Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program for a new study.

Solon City Council rejected a rezoning request for a 2.38 acre site at the southeast corner of SOM Center and Miles roads. A Mentor developer had hoped to build a gas station or retail on the property.

Visconsi Companies announced that the Plaza at SouthPark will be anchored by a 147,000 square foot Costco. The shopping center under construction at I-71 and Route 82 in Strongsville will also include a Best Buy and a Bed Bath & Beyond. The stores are expected to open in fall 2009.

Update: the Sun Star has more information.

In a statement (PDF) released today, Eaton Corp. revealed that a location in the Chagrin Highlands is the leading candidate for the company's new headquarters. A site in the Flats east bank development was previously thought to be the most likely location. Mayor Jackson said that while he is disappointed, he respects the decision.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland leaders must attempt to keep the company downtown. WKSU's Kevin Niedermier spoke with Frank Jackson about the news.

University Hospitals held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for three new buildings at its University Circle campus. Steven Litt feels that the "major buildings in the expansion are shaping up as a missed opportunity to create a powerful, lively and welcoming new face for the hospital along Euclid Avenue".

Andrew Macurak writes that the U.S. Census Bureau's ranking of poorest and wealthiest cities is flawed, because it does not account for cities that have absorbed their suburbs, city-county consolidations, and similar situations. He suggests that a comparison of counties would more accurately depict the distribution of wealth.

(via Kaid Benfield)

Great Lakes Theater Festival's renovation of the Hanna Theatre is finished. Tony Brown of the Plain Dealer is amazed that the company has "managed to accomplish this stunning project in the fairly short span of nine months." A grand reopening gala will be held on September 20.

The City of Cleveland Heights has started offering 100% tax abatements over seven years for new residential construction.

Great Lakes issues have entered the U.S. presidential race. Last week, Great Lakes advocates urged both candidates to increase their support for Great Lakes restoration efforts, and yesterday, the Obama-Biden campaign introduced a five-point plan for improving the Great Lakes. It includes $5 billion over ten years for a fund dedicated to Great Lakes work.

Citing safety concerns, Wal-Mart indefinitely closed its store at City View Center this morning. A company spokesperson said that the list of problems includes "structural shifts, foundation issues, electrical issues, methane gas level issues, sewage backup," and that Wal-Mart does not intend to reopen the store.

Update: the Plain Dealer and WTAM have more details.

Cleveland's neighborhoods may soon start to realize the impacts of community reinvestments. Several community development efforts are underway in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, including a plan to redevelop the shuttered St. Luke's Hospital. In Central, the Weed & Seed initiative is combating blight, and public improvements are being made across the city. In addition, the three neighborhoods participating in the pilot LEED for Neighborhood Development program could have their plans certified in December.

Update: the Plain Dealer published additional information about the neighborhood improvements.

At the request of Cuyahoga County leaders, Merchandise Mart Properties will lead negotiations on the price of the site for the planned new downtown convention center.

Update: Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business provides some insight into the decision.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the efforts of state leaders to craft more effective urban policies, and says that "Ohio's economy won't be healthy until its cities do better."

The theme of the third "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" discussion at the City Club (MP3, 25.4 MB) was infrastructure and transportation. The participants were Ricky Smith of the Cleveland Department of Port Control, Bonita Teeuwen of ODOT District 12, and Adam Wasserman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The final event in the series will be held on December 17, and will the examine the changing regional economy.

The new offices of Douglass & Associates on Grayton Road in Cleveland were designed to attain LEED gold certification.

On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board voted to distribute $11.2 million in emergency funds to area public transit agencies. RTA received $9 million and Laketran received $1 million. Smaller amounts went to Lorain County Transit, Medina County Public Transit, Geauga County Transit, and the Brunswick Transit Authority.

The Ohio EPA remains concerned about the effects of a proposed Cleveland Clinic facility on wetlands and streams in Twinsburg. The Clinic is seeking permission to fill in some of the property's high-quality wetlands and rare cold-water springs. The two sides are continuing negotiations.

Voters in Brecksville may have the opportunity to vote on riparian setback rules in a spring election.

Mayor Longo of Garfield Heights is confident that the Ohio EPA's lawsuit against City View Center will be resolved soon.

The City of Solon, the Solon City Schools, and the Coral Co. are negotiating a 30-year TIF agreement for the proposed Central Park development.

The First Suburbs Development Council and the Cuyahoga County Commissioners gave the City of Shaker Heights a $300,000 grant. It will be "used to facilitate the first step in a multi-phase project that will bring housing to the Moreland neighborhood that encapsulates both best in design and new green building techniques."

Mayor Westfall of Valley View formed the Supplemental School Revenue Committee. The committee is charged with finding ways to replace the loss of tax revenue to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties.

Legislation was introduced in Brooklyn City Council that would designate the entire city as a community reinvestment area. Homeowners and businesses in CRAs are eligible for tax incentives on new construction and major renovations. The City of South Euclid is considering similar legislation.

While the developer of Mayfield Heights Town Center is happy with the performance of the shopping center, Brunswick Town Center in Medina County has not lived up to expectations.

On September 22, the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals will again discuss a request to install an electronic billboard in exchange for removing five existing nonconforming billboards. A group of residents wants six additional billboards to be removed.

Mayfield Village officials are among those frustrated by the lack of local oversight of natural gas and oil wells.

Channel 8 compared the current proposal for building a convention center at Tower City Center to Forest City Enterprises' 2003 proposal, which included the redevelopment of Scranton Peninsula.

Over 1,000 people attended the Restoring Our Prosperity Policy Summit in Columbus yesterday to discuss the economic competitiveness of Ohio's cities. A recurring theme of the initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio, was the need for intergovernmental partnerships.

A preliminary report issued in conjunction with the event says that "state policies have failed to keep pace with the changing dynamics of today's social, environmental, and economic reality" and identifies strategies for reinvigorating Ohio's 32 "core communities". The final report will be delivered in January.

The Jewish Community Federation's Building Committee will recommend moving the agency's headquarters from downtown Cleveland to Beachwood, while maintaining an undefined presence in downtown Cleveland. A Plain Dealer editorial says the the headquarters should remain downtown. The full board is scheduled to vote on the move this afternoon.

Update: the board of trustees voted to move the offices to Beachwood.

The nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society is raising funds to restore the former Glenville home of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. The first of four auctions raised $34,459 of the $50,000 goal. Owners Hattie and Jefferson Gray agreed to give the Society first rights to buy the house if they decide to sell.

Yesterday, RTA staff outlined their suggestions for more modest service cuts and fare increases. The recommendations include reducing service by 3% and adding a 25¢ fuel surcharge. If approved by the RTA board on September 23, the changes will be implemented on November 2.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati reversed a lower court decision that had granted Advanced Hydro Solutions access to the Gorge Metro Park in Summit County. The Court of Appeals returned the case to U.S. District Court in Akron with instructions to dismiss it (PDF) for lack of jurisdiction.

The Plain Dealer's Michael Scott interviewed David Beach of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The City of South Euclid's purchase and demolition of nine Greenvale Drive duplexes in 2006 has had the desired effect of reducing crime, and the City continues to maintain the vacant lots. However, the City lacks the funds to repeat the process in other areas.

As the Cleveland Clinic prepares to open the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion and the Glickman Tower at its Cleveland campus, the Plain Dealer published a set of articles that explore the impacts of the new buildings. They represent the Clinic's largest expansion ever, an addition of more than 1.25 million square feet.

A review by the Institute of Medicine upheld the official findings of a controversial study by the Centers for Disease Control about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The Institute of Medicine noted that shortcomings in the draft reports limit its usefulness "in determining whether health risks might be associated with living near the lakes."

The Ohio EPA is preparing to submit a plan for bringing into compliance the 27 counties that do not meet federal particulate pollution standards. Cuyahoga County is the only one expected to have problems meeting the standards by the April 5, 2010 deadline. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on September 17 at the Twinsburg Public Library. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is in the process of designating nonattainment areas under new, more stringent particulate rules.

House flippers are turning to eBay in attempts to make quick profits.

The Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District is proceeding with a controversial rule that could prevent landfills in the three county area from accepting trash from Cuyahoga and Summit counties.

Update: an appeal of a lower court decision upholding the rule was heard by the 5th District Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Cleveland Magazine shares a copy of Streetcar, an avant-garde film made by Jasper Wood in the early 1950s showing the last days of the streetcar in Cleveland. The footage is provided by the Lakewood Public Library.

While the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's relocation plans include moving the East 55th Street Marina, the Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee is concerned it will lead to a loss of open space at Gordon Park.

Brook Park City Council has begun discussing the proposed seven city regional fire district. Some members appear to favor a more modest regional dispatching center as an alternative.

The Ohio EPA remains unsatisfied with the efforts to monitor and vent methane gas at City View Center, and has threatened to shut down the shopping center in Garfield Heights if the issues are not resolved.

Two residents who live near John Carroll University proposed a study intended to quantify the economic benefits of the neighborhood surrounding the campus.

In anticipation of their construction, the City of Lakewood enacted new zoning rules regulating wind turbines. The Cuyahoga County Fair Board is also exploring the possibility of erecting a turbine on the Middleburg Heights portion of the fairgrounds.

GLUE's Sarah Szurpicki interviewed Dave Dempsey of Great Lakes Blogger, Jim Rowen of the Political Environment, and Noah Hall of the Great Lakes Law Blog about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in advance of a conference call on Tuesday. Hall and Dempsey also discussed the Compact last week on Interlochen Public Radio.

On September 25, the Levin College Forum at CSU will host the first event in its Beyond Foreclosure series, a panel discussion titled "Small Scale Strategies that Work". It will "focus on small scale housing strategies and projects that are new, creative, environmentally sustainable and invigorating to the marketplace."

Ohio Department of Transportation officials are concerned that the construction timetable for the Central Park development and related infrastructure improvements may be too ambitious. The Coral Co.'s project manager for the mixed-use project in Solon described the schedule as "aggressive but doable."

The installation of replacement noise barriers along I-480 in North Olmsted has been delayed, and will completed in October instead of August.

Shaker Heights City Council passed a resolution in support of the proposed Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland, with one councilman dissenting.

The September issue of the Plain Press includes articles about housing code enforcement in Tremont, conflicts caused by construction at the Union Gospel Press building in Tremont, and the status of Ashbury Towers, the stalled redevelopment of the Joseph & Feiss site in Cleveland's Stockyards neighborhood. In addition, WCPN devoted this morning's Sound of Ideas show to a discussion of Tremont issues.

Concerned taxpayers questioned leaders about the Medical Mart and convention center plans at a public forum in Cleveland Heights yesterday. A second forum will be held on Thursday in Middleburg Heights.

Update: Roldo Bartimole was not impressed by the event. Also, the start time of the Thursday forum has been changed to 5:30.

Valley View Village Council approved a tax break for a company it hopes will move from Brooklyn Heights. Mayor Procuk of Brooklyn Heights appears to have dropped his objections.

Update: Mayor Procuk said he has "cooled down a bit".

The Lakewood Observer toured the vacant Hilliard Square Theatre on Hilliard Road. It is one of eight buildings that will be featured in the Lakewood Historical Society's House Tour on Sunday.

Achievement Centers for Children completed the purchase of a 4.3 acre site on Royalton Road adjacent to Camp Cheerful in Strongsville. A hotel had been proposed for the site, but the new owners will keep it undeveloped.

Zaremba Homes has started offering a rent-to-own program intended to make their properties (including the Avenue District in downtown Cleveland) more attractive to buyers.

Akron Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels writes about the continued reactions to the list of America's fastest-dying cities published by last month, describing it as something that "is so not worth talking about that weeks later people are still talking about how it's not worth talking about."

Audio (MP3, 25.0 MB) and a transcript of Friday's City Club talk by RTA CEO Joe Calabrese are now online.

A report prepared for the City of Cleveland says that over the first five months of this year, City prosecutors rejected over a quarter of the cases prepared by building and housing inspectors against property owners.

The Plain Dealer highlighted the efforts of Winslow Road residents and Shaker Heights officials to improve the neighborhood, and said that it provides "a lesson for other neighborhoods about how to turn around a declining street."

The old Commodore Theater at Lake Shore Boulevard and East 152nd Street in Collinwood may be demolished this year.

Leaders in the Youngstown area are encouraged by the prospect of federal funding for the Ohio Hub plan, which would provide rail service to Youngstown and Warren via a line between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The Medina County Commissioners renewed their call for providing outlying counties a larger share of the funds intended to alleviate the public transit funding shortfall. A public forum will be held on September 12 at the Medina County University Center in Lafayette Township.

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