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October 2008 Archives

The chambers of commerce for the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown areas rolled out the Tech Belt Initiative, an economic development strategy intended to help the region transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

The Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation is sponsoring a national architecture competition for an intergenerational housing development. Its objective is to "provide an innovative, affordable, sustainable and supportive environment for families in which grandparents are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren." Kent State's Urban Design Collaborative is coordinating the competition.

WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren about the suspension of work on the Flats east bank project.

FirstEnergy is seeking a variance that would allow its Lakeshore Power Plant to continue wastewater discharges into Lake Erie with mercury levels in excess of permitted amounts. Company officials say that installing equipment to meet the standards could cost $10 million or more.

The City of North Royalton may join South Euclid and Euclid in promulgating rules for rain barrels.

Tuesday's election will include the following issues in Cuyahoga County communities:

In neighboring counties, the issues include:

The AIA Sustainable Design Team's visit to Parma last week culminated in a public meeting where they presented information about their process, the City's assets and challenges, and their suggestions (PDF, 13.2 MB). The team will prepare a final report for the City.

The Jacobs Group's plans for the 37-acre site at I-77 and Royalton Road in Brecksville include dividing it into three smaller properties.

Research on the small house on Denison Avenue in Old Brooklyn indicates that it likely was built in 1853 by the son of one of Brooklyn Township's first settlers. Meanwhile, the North Olmsted Landmarks Commission may designate the Standen House on Kennedy Ridge Road as a historic property.

Including the proposed international village for West 25th Street in Cleveland's master plan is complicated by several factors, including disagreements between Councilman Santiago and Clark Metro Development Corporation, nonpayment of consultants' fees, and the lack of a recognized CDC for the area.

This year, 11 businesses in Parma Heights participated in a storefront renovation program offered by the First Suburbs Development Council.

The Supplemental School Revenue Committee in Valley View agreed on a proposal for replacing lost income to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties. The agreement, which will be presented to Village Council, calls for sharing income taxes collected from the company.

The Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation is striving to increase homeownership and revitalize the east side neighborhood. Among other activities, the CDC rehabilitates neglected houses for resale and manages the Greater Circle Living initiative.

Rocky River Director of Economic and Community Development Kory Koran updated a Rocky River Chamber of Commerce audience about how the City has fared over the last year.

Professor Scott Shane of the Weatherhead School of Management prepared a white paper about entrepreneurial activity and economic development for the Fund for Our Economic Future. It "explored ways in which the Fund could use entrepreneurship (PDF) to improve the lives of the residents of Northeast Ohio."

Update: the paper recommends that programs to enhance immigration should not be pursued as an economic development strategy. Attorney Richard Herman disagrees.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the 15 recipients of Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grants, including six projects in Northeast Ohio. The cities of Cleveland and Parma were the awardees in Cuyahoga County. Initiatives of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association and the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium were not selected for awards.

Cleveland Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins is concerned that the Jackson administration is allowing stable neighborhoods to decline by focusing too much on demolishing abandoned houses in already blighted areas.

The first Northeast Ohio Food Congress will be held at Hiram College on November 7-8. It will feature "contemporary local perspectives, informative presentations, tasty local eats, and inspiring field trips." The registration deadline is November 5.

Construction of the Flats east bank project was suspended today, because the credit crunch has created difficulties in securing private financing for the mixed-use development. The developers said that "they still intend to move forward with the project" (PDF), but did not identify a timeline for resuming work.

Update: WKSU, WCPN, and WTAM supply more details.

The grand opening of RTA's HeathLine attracted crowds over the weekend, and its Monday debut experienced only minor glitches. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the corridor's real payoff will be in the surrounding development it encourages.

The new Fulton Road Bridge in Old Brooklyn remains on target for its scheduled November 2009 opening. Construction of the new bridge will require approximately 18,345 cubic yards of concrete.

The credit crunch threatens to further slow the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's construction program. In addition, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has suggested enlarging an existing school instead of building a proposed west side reliever high school.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square will be closed for the next eight to nine months while its interior undergoes restoration.

The News-Herald looked at the conflicts and the problems resulting from a 2004 Ohio law that removed local oversight of natural gas and oil wells. Some are opposed to the increase in drilling and hope to revise the law.

The Euclid Corridor was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the HealthLine this afternoon. Construction of the $200 million, 7.1-mile project took three years, and it was the subject of Thursday's Sound of Ideas on WCPN. RTA will hold opening celebrations all weekend.

This week's episode of WVIZ's Applause visits three houses: the straw bale house on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights, architect Robert Maschke's modernist home near the West Shoreway, and Tremont's Clarence Court townhouses designed by Dan Bickerstaff.

Plain Dealer critics Steven Litt and Tony Brown compared notes about the renovated Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland.

In addition to the eight rezoning issues on the ballot in Broadview Heights, voters will decide Issues 17-19, proposed charter revisions that involve the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Parma Sun Post reports on the public meetings held earlier this week with the AIA Sustainable Design Assessment Team.

The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a request from TransCon builders to rezone a site near Hawthorne Valley Country Club in Solon. However, the Court has not begun deliberations on a related lawsuit challenging the validity of the ward veto provision in the City's referendum zoning rules.

Representatives of the Jacobs Group discussed the company's plans for the southwest quadrant of the interchange at I-77 and Royalton Road with the Brecksville Planning Commission. The company had previously proposed developing the site as a mixed-use development called the Arborlands.

The developers of the rejected Oak Knoll subdivision are suing the City of Independence. A judge dismissed two of the developers' claims, but a third suit is still pending.

Last week, Brooklyn City Council unanimously approved the creation of a citywide community reinvestment area.

A group of Tiedeman Road residents is questioning the City of Brooklyn's plans for a rare diverging diamond interchange at I-480 and Tiedeman Road.

The Chagrin Falls Planning Commission unanimously approved a rezoning for the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the Ivex mill. Some of its neighbors strongly object to the project, and developers have requested a special election on the rezoning.

Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins is looking for more information about a small house on Denison Avenue. It was built in the 1840s, but has been poorly maintained and could be demolished.

Issue 105 in Solon is a proposal to rezone 3.4 acres adjacent to Solar Shopping Center from office to retail. The land might be used for a new Giant Eagle supermarket.

The Great Lakes Region Coalition, a group of over 30 Midwest chambers of commerce, released a business agenda that outlines their federal legislative priorities for growing the region's economy. The initiative is an outgrowth the Brookings Institution's work on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative.

Update: Joe Roman describes the agenda in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

By a vote of 4-3, Westlake City Council approved a rezoning for a proposed 32-bed Hospice of the Western Reserve facility on Crocker Road.

The Euclid Beach Fishing Pier Feasibility Study (PDF, 8.9 MB) is now available. It concludes that construction of a new pier is feasible, and estimates that design and construction would cost approximately $4 million.

While it was still considering a Flats east bank site for its new headquarters, Eaton requested a list of changes to neighboring properties, some of which would have impacted port activities. Crain's Cleveland Business noted that it's unclear whether the requests were make-or-break issues or whether Eaton was simply trying to get as much as possible.

The conversion of the Langerdale Retention Basin in South Euclid has been completed. The concrete channelized drainageway along Nine Mile Creek was replaced with a man-made wetland. The 10 acre, $1.2 million restoration will reduce flooding and provide new habitats.

The Plain Dealer recounts the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association's dispute with the Cleveland Metroparks over building trails in the park system. Meanwhile, the National Park Service is preparing a rule that will transfer decision making-power about bicycle trails to local park administrators. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park will use funds from the Krejci dump settlement to study the possibility of building trails.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio say that "Ohio policies stack the deck against core communities, systematically favoring the growth of new places over the redevelopment of older ones and failing to leverage the assets in these places in any coherent way" and that state programs and policies should "identify and build on the key assets that drive prosperity in the places where they occur."

A protracted credit crunch could force delays or cancellations of proposed commercial developments in and around Cleveland, including downtown office towers, suburban retail developments, and mixed-use projects.

The Plain Dealer looked around the United States for new economic revitalization strategies that could be utilized in Greater Cleveland.

Opportunity Homes is a new $20 million public-private partnership designed to counter the effects of foreclosures in six Cleveland neighborhoods over the next three years. In its first year, the program aims to help 100 families avoid foreclosure, demolish 100 blighted houses, and rehabilitate 121 vacant homes. used North Randall as an example of the social and economic impacts of a declining mall. The article quotes Peter Lawson Jones as saying that the Village "could become the first municipal fatality in North Ohio" if it is unable to revitalize Randall Park Mall.

Marc Lefkowitz liveblogged last Friday's Bioneers Conference at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs.

On October 23, the Ohio Department of Transportation will hold an open house about funding and development of recreational trails in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. It will be held at the CanalWay Center in the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the recipients in the second round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program today. Of the 48 projects selected, 14 are in Cleveland. The Terminal Tower, St. Luke's Hospital, and the East Ohio Gas Building on East 6th Street each received credits valued at an estimated $5 million.

Cleveland State University held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony today for the new Student Center. It is scheduled to be completed in 2010, and is being built on the site of the former University Center. The University has a webcam that shows construction progress.

The nationwide credit crunch has the potential to raise the price of the planned Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center by millions of dollars.

Channel 3 shows how a Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District water assessment squad tests Cuyahoga River water quality by examining the fish population.

NOACA awarded $869,600 in TLCI grants for 15 transportation planning studies in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Medina counties. The awards include $50,000 to the City of Parma for planning a multipurpose trail along the First Energy corridor near the City's southern border, and $48,000 for planning a bicycle path in Medina.

Update: Maple Heights will use its award to study ways to make Broadway Avenue friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Architects and planners from the AIA's Center for Communities by Design will return to Parma next week for a series of round-table visioning sessions about practical sustainability ideas. The public is invited to participate (PDF) in the focus groups and town hall meetings (MS Word). The Sustainable Design Assessment Team will present their recommendations at a meeting on October 22.

While market conditions have forced the cancellation of some proposed retail projects, developers of the upscale Twinsburg Fashion Place in Summit County and the Cedar Center redevelopment in South Euclid are proceeding with their plans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting $100,000 Flood Risk Management Studies for the Cuyahoga River valley communities of Brooklyn Heights, Independence, Valley View, and Walton Hills. Congressman Kucinich said that the studies will create a better understanding of the causes of flooding and approaches to flood risk mitigation.

The newly formed Madison Avenue Business Association in Lakewood is working to promote independent retailers and enhance the street's historical character.

Euclid City Council passed rain barrel legislation earlier this month. The City of South Euclid has also enacted rules for rain barrels.

A proposed wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds was unanimously approved by the Middleburg Heights Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission, and now awaits approval from City Council.

If passed by voters in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights, the 1 mill continuing levy of Issue 136 will provide funds to construct and maintain new facilities for the Tri-City Senior Center. Many elected officials in Berea and Brook Park are opposed to the issue.

A June audit of Chester's town center found that the area lacks infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Similar workshops were held in Brooklyn Centre, Lakewood, and Strongsville.

The Ohio Department of Transportation decided that the four outer lanes of the Innerbelt Bridge will remain closed indefinitely. Last week's stress test confirmed that two of the bridge's connectors are severely deteriorated. ODOT has not yet identified a long-term strategy for the bridge.

The American Planning Association named Cleveland's West Side Market as one of the nation's great public spaces, including it on their 2008 list of Great Places in America.

Yesterday, the RTA board approved adding a fuel surcharge to public transit fares. The surcharge depends on the price of diesel fuel, and will be 25¢ per ride until September 2009. The maximum surcharge is $1.00, and it will disappear if the price of diesel falls below $3.00 per gallon. It will go into effect on October 27. RTA will also implement a proof-of-payment system for the HealthLine on October 27.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office recommended awarding federal tax credits for the planned renovation of the Cleveland Trust Tower in downtown Cleveland. The tax credits could be worth $8-$10 million for the $133 million project.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is planning to hold a series of community meetings at which it will present its plans for a regional stormwater management program.

Summit County leaders are asking the County's 31 cities, villages, and townships to adopt a revenue sharing agreement. It calls for revenue sharing in cases where large employers move from one Summit County community to another, or when financial incentives are used to induce a relocation.

The North Ridgeville Planning Commission approved the preliminary plan for Hampton Place, a 218 acre planned unit development to be built north of Center Ridge Road. The plans call for the subdivision to include 540 to 550 single-family homes and cluster houses.

While black churches are facing pressure to follow their congregants to the suburbs, many of them remain committed to their Cleveland neighborhoods. The Plain Dealer used a multimedia presentation to illustrate the role of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Fairfax.

Statewide smart growth advocacy organization Greater Ohio recently started a weblog. It's intended to "act as a forum for discussion and commentary on Restoring Prosperity policy proposals & innovative local initiatives."

The Plain Dealer explored the history of the 85-year old Alcazar apartment/hotel in Cleveland Heights.

LakewoodAlive merged with Lakewood Community Progress Inc. The combined nonprofit community development organization will operate under the LakewoodAlive name.

Next week, the Ohio Department of Transportation will present the results of the Innerbelt Bridge stress test and its plans for the future of the bridge. It is possible that it will be beyond repair.

On Friday, October 17, Western Reserve PBS (formerly PBS 45 & 49) will air Living Cities, a one hour special report on the well-being of Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown and a response to their inclusion in the list of dying cities.

Update: the program can now be viewed online.

Several cities and villages in northern Summit County have rejected the City of Cleveland's water main maintenance and no poaching proposal.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded a grant of as much as $1.5 million to NorTech, the technology advocacy group that recently narrowed its focus, and gave up to $600,000 to the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association for support of its work on revenue sharing and regional planning.

Update: the Twinsburg Bulletin has more information about the award to the Mayors & City Managers Association.

Attendance was sparse at the fourth public forum about the planned Medical Mart and convention center in Cleveland.

The Plain Dealer summarized the impacts of the Clean Ohio program in Greater Cleveland. The bond program is up for renewal as Issue 2, and Lakewood City Council passed a resolution in support of program.

Update: Issue 2 has bipartisan support from top office-holders in Columbus.

Consultants for the City of Olmsted Falls made a final presentation of the Columbia Road Corridor Study last week. Some City Council members have reservations about aspects of the plan, which will now go before the City's Planning Commission.

Peter Rubin of the Coral Co. told Solon residents that he may introduce a replacement for the canceled Central Park development in six months or a year.

Solon City Council is considering zoning code amendments that would allow the City to perform nuisance abatement activities without going to court.

The partners working on the proposed Big Creek Trail and Neighborhood Connector hope to select a preferred alignment next month. About 100 residents attended an August public meeting about the trail.

Plans have bogged down for a $25 million retail/office complex at Tuxedo Avenue and Granger Road in Brooklyn Heights, but Mayor Procuk said that the "deal is not dead in the water."

Because of the changing financial climate, developers of the Renaissance Park retail development in Strongsville opted to use traditional financing instead of the TIF package approved last year.

Orange Village Council continues to consider a revised residential point-of-sale ordinance. Two residents expressed concerns about the proposed law at a recent meeting.

The Twinsburg Planning Commission approved the Cleveland Clinic's revised plans for a medical campus on Darrow Road near I-480.

At a public workshop last month, consultants presented three concepts for improving the Cedar-Fairmount business district in Cleveland Heights. Participants favored an option that calls for widening the sidewalks along Cedar Road and narrowing the street.

Mark Souther writes about the start of an endeavor to add Grant Deming's Forest Hill Allotment in Cleveland Heights to the National Register of Historic Places.

Members of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association promoted the organization's regionalism efforts at a Regional Chamber conference in Boardman last week.

(via Pass the Plus)

On Friday, the Coral Co. dropped its plans for the mixed-use Central Park development in Solon, citing the credit crunch and difficulties in obtaining financing. Solon officials will attempt to remove the rezoning issue for the development from the November ballot.

Update: Solon City Council rescinded the rezoning issue on Monday. It will still appear on the ballot, but votes will not be counted.

Preliminary results of a study of the upper Cuyahoga River indicate that much of it will meet Ohio EPA standards for fishability. The number of fish and aquatic insect species identified was a significant improvement over the previous study, conducted in 2000. High bacteria levels still prevent the river from being declared swimmable.

The Blade's Tom Henry says that Bush administration and federal EPA officials "lobbied against our best interests by calling upon both chambers of Congress to reject the House version of a bill that would have reauthorized the Great Lakes Legacy Act at up to $150 million a year."

(via Great Lakes Law)

Update: President Bush signed the reauthorizing legislation.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission released the Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Plan 2008 (PDF) last week. It lays out ten priorities for preserving and restoring the Lake between now and 2014 and says that "we must fundamentally change the manner in which we make land use, energy use and development decisions in the Lake Erie watershed." The first Protection & Restoration Plan was published in 2000.

The new Serbian Cultural Garden in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park was dedicated on Sunday. It is located on Martin Luther King Boulevard, across from the new Azerbaijan Cultural Garden.

President Bush signed the Great Lakes Compact today. The Compact now moves into its implementation phase.

The Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland continues to deteriorate more quickly than expected, and this week the Ohio Department of Transportation first closed two lanes and later closed four lanes of the eight lane bridge. It will be completely closed for more tests one night next week. ODOT's Innerbelt plans call for rehabilitating the bridge, but the increased corrosion could force a change.

Ozone levels in an eight-county Northeast Ohio area were lower than anticipated this summer. Officials attribute the cleaner air to a reduction in automobile traffic caused by higher gas prices.

The Jacobs Group purchased almost 200 acres this summer near the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, but has not revealed its plans for the area. Mayor Smith thinks that the company is planning "something big."

The Cleveland Foundation and Gund Foundation gave $18.1 million million to local projects last month. The Cleveland Foundation's awards included a $4 million loan for the Uptown development in University Circle, $550,000 to Living Cities, $1.5 million for the second phase of the Cleveland Museum of Art expansion, and $200,000 for research on proposed Lake Erie wind turbines. The Gund Foundation gave $3 million in grants and loans for the Uptown project, $300,000 for support for Greater Ohio, and $75,000 for the relocation of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative offices to Playhouse Square.

The historic Singletary House in Streetsboro is again threatened. In 2006, the house was moved from its second location to make room for a Wal-Mart, but a new foundation was never built. The Streetsboro Heritage Foundation needs $51,600 to complete the work.

A Solon resident is questioning the legality of using tax increment financing for the proposed Central Park development. He believes that the type of TIF proposed can only be used in blighted areas.

Macedonia officials are not interested in participating in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program.

The North Ridgeville Master Plan Committee is seeking public input as they begin the process of updating the City's 1997 master plan (PDF). The committee's next meeting will be on October 8.

Update: the Chronicle-Telegram has more details.

The third annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators found that the economic performance Northeast Ohio's four metropolitan areas continues to fall short of national and regional averages. The results correspond with earlier Dashboard reports and other national studies.

Update: the Morning Journal summarized the findings, while the Plain Dealer published a more optimistic story.

The first of three reports revealed "no major hurdles" in the feasibility of building a demonstration wind turbine project in Lake Erie. The entire study should be completed by next April. Meanwhile, Case Western Reserve University hired Dianne Anderson as the first executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission was one of 15 recipients of intercity passenger rail grants from the Federal Railroad Administration. The $62,500 award will help pay for an Amtrak study of the proposed 3-C Corridor, a line that would link Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

The New York Times Magazine reports on the fledgling field of building deconstruction, focusing on the efforts of Brad Guy of the Building Materials Reuse Association and his work in Slavic Village.

Zaremba, Inc. announced plans to build ten additional townhouses at the southeastern edge of its Avenue District development in downtown Cleveland.

The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association reports that it has been unsuccessful in its efforts to get the Cleveland Metroparks to allow the expansion of a bike trail network.

(via Cool Cleveland)

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