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November 2008 Archives

Lowe's "has backed away from closing" on its store at Bridgeview Crossing, creating another delay for the shopping center under development in Garfield Heights. The Plain Dealer reports that it's unclear if Lowe's has pulled out of the project entirely.

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability named the recipients of its annual Champions of Sustainability awards at yesterday's Creating Cleveland's New Story event. Participants liveblogged the proceedings from the Thwing Center at the new Creating Cleveland's New Story weblog.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Michael Wager told a City Club audience yesterday that state and local leaders should support the Port's planned move to new facilities.

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded a $4 million grant to the City of Shaker Heights for the reconfiguration of the six-way intersection of Warrensville Center, Chagrin, Van Aken, and Northfield. The project will cost an estimated $10 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

Officials from northern Summit County formed a working group to discuss whether they will oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's plans for a regional stormwater management program.

While work continues on the second phase of improvements to Lakewood Park, City officials are considering future investments.

A Plain Dealer feature examined the ways that Pittsburgh influences Cleveland and explored redevelopment and economic development strategies employed by Pittsburgh that could be applied in Cleveland. Meanwhile, a New Orleans Times-Picayune series on the shrinking cities movement looked to Cleveland and other Midwestern cities as positive models. At Cleveburgh Diaspora, Jim Russell submits that "the fate of Pittsburgh and Cleveland are increasingly intertwined."

Legislation for countywide land banks was the subject of discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program. Hearings on the proposal are expected to begin soon in the Ohio legislature. The program also examined the topic in November 2007.

As a tribute to the late Ed Hauser, WVIZ will re-air the 2006 documentary Citizen Hauser twice this week, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at 11:00 p.m.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier says that Cleveland will need the support of the region if it is to succeed, and that "it could be essentially gone" if regional leaders fail to cooperate. In a second Plain Dealer op-ed, law student Christopher Thomas explains why Cleveland can be an attractive destination for young professionals.

An Akron Beacon Journal review of Ohio EPA recycling data indicates that Cuyahoga County will likely be among the counties that do not conform to a controversial new rule of the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Solid Waste Management District and will be banned from using the three landfills in the District. The rule is being challenged by the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

A wastewater treatment plant in Akron turns sewage into electricity through a process where anaerobic bacteria convert biosolids into methane. The system is the first of its kind in the nation and has exceeded expectations for electricity production.

Cutbacks by banks and financial firms could increase the vacancy rate for downtown Cleveland offices and eliminate the market for proposed new office towers.

The old Commodore Theater in Collinwood has been demolished.

Carol Coletta reflected on her recent visit to University Circle and the definition of the term "premier urban district". She also shared her hopes for the Obama administration's urban agenda.

Update: she also posted her keynote address from University Circle Incorporated's annual meeting.

Cuyahoga County hired Conventional Wisdom of Orlando to assist in the design of the convention center portion of the Medical Mart project. The County hopes to name a site for the development by January 15.

The University Circle Design Review Committee tabled the plans for an expansion of the Cleveland Institute of Art, saying that the ideas needed refinement. Winy Maas of MVRDV is collaborating with the Pittsburgh office of Burt Hill on the design.

The Cleveland Public Library's Fine Arts Department shared information about their local architectural history resources.

Armond Budish, the Speaker-elect of the Ohio House of Representatives, pledged to focus on urban revitalization and economic development, but did not reveal specific proposals.

Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone proposed renaming the Whiskey Island access road in memory of the late Ed Hauser.

The City of Fairview Park may create a housing council. It would serve as the "line of first response" for rental issues in the City.

A historic trolley depot that previously was part of the Trolleyville USA collection in Olmsted Township will be moved to Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls.

With the foreclosure crisis increasing the supply of abandoned homes in Cleveland and East Cleveland, more of the area's homeless are squatting in the vacant houses. Advocates for the homeless are working to establish a program that would allow the skilled homeless to take possession of abandoned homes in exchange for repairing them.

The West Side Sun News describes the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Center, the largest redevelopment project undertaken by the City of Cleveland's Industrial-Commercial Land Bank program. The site in the industrial valley was recently awarded a $5 million Ohio Job Ready Sites grant.

Cleveland Clinic representatives presented plans for the first phase of a family health center to the Avon Planning Commission on Wednesday. The Clinic wants to build a 120,000-square-foot health facility and a 61,000-square-foot surgery center, plus a 900-space parking lot.

The Chatter column in this week's issue of Scene includes an update on the proposed revisions of Cleveland's billboard rules.

The Ohio 11th District Appeals Court heard oral arguments in the Lake Erie property lines case on Tuesday. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources earlier attempted to have one of the three judges disqualified because of a potential conflict of interest, but was rebuffed by the Ohio Supreme Court. A decision is not expected for several months.

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission approved $1 million to the Great Lakes Science Center for the walkway that will connect the museum and the Steamship William G. Mather Museum. Construction of the 400-foot walkway will cost an estimated $3.4 million.

Developers of the proposed subdivision on the 21-acre Windsor Hospital property have named it Falls Walk. The development in Chagrin Falls would consist of 38 single-family houses.

Today's Plain Dealer examined the Innerbelt Bridge's weakest beam and the problems it has created. The bridge was also the subject of yesterday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, where panelists discussed the future of the span. Starting tomorrow, trucks and buses will be banned from the bridge, and alternate routes are already seeing increased congestion.

Planning efforts continue for University Circle developments, including two hotels, the Uptown project, and several townhome developments. University Circle Incorporated is taking a more active role in planning and promoting proposed projects.

Update: Carol Coletta was the keynote speaker at UCI's annual meeting, and discussed reasons to be optimistic about the future of cities. UCI's 2008 annual report is available online.

"Citizen" Ed Hauser, the activist known to many as the "Mayor of Whiskey Island" passed away unexpectedly on Friday at age 47. Marc Lefkowitz, Bill Callahan, George Nemeth, Carole Cohen, Roldo Bartimole, Jill Miller Zimon, Erick Trickey, Dru McKeown, and Kelly Ferjutz have all posted remembrances, as have members of RealNEO, a site where he participated.

Plans to convert the former Howard Johnson's near the East Shoreway and East 55th Street to condominiums remain on the drawing board.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's plans for a regional stormwater management program are controversial in northern Summit County. Some leaders worry that money from their communities will be directed to projects in Cuyahoga County.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow more residents to raise livestock and bees near their homes. City Council committees are expected to begin discussing the proposal later this month, and community meetings will be held on November 25 and December 3.

A public meeting about stage 3 construction of the Towpath Trail will take place on November 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sokolowski's University Inn in Tremont. This leg of the trail will connect Steelyard Commons to Literary Road.

Calling it "Greater Cleveland's last, best chance to end the foreclosure feeding frenzy that is consuming neighborhoods and eviscerating property values," a Plain Dealer editorial urges state and local officials to support countywide land bank legislation.

Update: Becky Gaylord feels that Cleveland needs "bold, strong action, such as creating a regional land bank."

On Thursday, the mayors of Hudson and Boston Heights signed an memorandum of understanding. It marks the start of a joint effort to coordinate the development of about 650 acres along the border of the two communities.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times provides more details.

Following the failure of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District's levy, its board will "continue to study other options and wait and see what the cities would like to do."

The Olmsted Township Trustees refused to rezone a property on Stearns Road for a proposed apartment complex, because a project that would provide sewers for the property has not been completed.

The City of Twinsburg will hire a consultant to help analyze the costs and benefits of the proposed Twinsburg Fashion Place shopping center. The results will inform City officials in anticipated tax increment financing negotiations.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded 12 Job Ready Sites program grants, two of which were for projects in Cuyahoga County. The City of Cleveland received $5 million for the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Center, a planned redevelopment of a 57-acre brownfield site near the Cuyahoga River. Ray Fogg Building Methods received $4.3 million to assist in the development of an industrial park on the 80-acre PMX site in Euclid.

The Jacobs Group is under contract to purchase 30 acres of the 540-acre Geauga Lake site from Cedar Fair. The property is in Bainbridge Township, and the company intends develop it as big box retail.

Update: the Aurora Advocate has more information.

The Ohio Department of Transportation may drop its proposed two-bridge plan for carrying I-90 over the Cuyahoga River valley due to the rapid decay of the Innerbelt Bridge. One proposal calls for building a steel girder bridge under the existing truss bridge, which would require closing the bridge for two years. Meanwhile, a group of Tremont residents protested the continued closure of the West 14th Street entrance ramp to the bridge.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that shutting down the bridge "would be disastrous for Cleveland."

Over 18,000 bicyclists used the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway's Bike Aboard! program this year, nearly three times as many as in 2007. The service will resume in April with the same $2.00 fare.

The Lakewood Observer has a summary of Mayor FitzGerald's proposed housing initiative. It focuses on encouraging homeowners to reinvest in their properties and on strengthening the City's housing enforcement activities.

Advertising agency Wyse will be the anchor tenant in the K&D Group's redevelopment of the 668 Euclid building in downtown Cleveland. The company signed a 10-year lease for 25,000 square feet on the building's ground floor. The K&D Group is also pursuing nontraditional financing for its planned redevelopment of the nearby Ameritrust complex, including investments from labor union pension funds.

Developer Bob Stark abandoned his plans to redevelop large portions of Cleveland's Warehouse District after the property owners declined to extend his options to buy the properties. The Asher family, owners of much of the land, may attempt to proceed with similar plans through Weston Inc., their commercial real estate company.

The City of Middleburg Heights withdrew from the regional fire district proposed for southwest Cuyahoga County. A revised proposal reduced the number of participating cities from seven to four due to the City of Berea's earlier withdrawal (which automatically eliminated Olmsted Falls) and a lack of interest from Brooklyn leaders. Officials in Brook Park, Parma, and Parma Heights are reviewing the revised plan.

The Cleveland Clinic submitted plans for the first phase of a new heath center in Avon on 40 acres near the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. The plans show an 181,000-square foot facility with medical offices and an outpatient surgical center.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss a proposal that would allow more residents to raise livestock and bees on their properties. The Planning Commission will also review electronic billboard regulations at the meeting.

The Veterans Administration announced plans to build an outpatient health clinic on the site of the Brookpark Golf Driving Range on Brookpark Road in Parma. Construction of the $7 million, 67,000-square foot building is expected to begin in the spring and end in mid-2010. The Brecksville outpatient clinic will be closed.

The Ethicurean summarized the the inaugural Northeast Ohio Food Congress, saying that it "offered a feast of possibilities, and there were plenty of ideas left over to take home and share."

Update: the Plain Dealer and GreenCityBlueLake also have reports on the event.

Steven Litt says that the recently-completed Euclid Corridor project "shows how smart investments in mass transit and public space can help struggling cities turn themselves around." He also calls it a reminder "that America still has the ability to tackle high-quality, large-scale infrastructure projects with style."

Update: Rob Pitingolo feels that the project also represents missed opportunities.

The planned Medical Mart in Cleveland faces potential competition from World Product Centre, a proposed $1 billion New York City skyscraper targeted at the healthcare industry. The project was first announced last year, and late last month, developers unveiled designs for a 60-story, 1.5 million square foot tower designed by Kohn Pederson Fox. They hope to open the tower in 2013.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's political and civic leaders must select a site for the Medical Mart.

Summa Health System is continuing with its plans to build a hospital in northern Summit County's Route 8 corridor, despite opposition from Akron General. Industry analysts say that Summa's strategy is to compete with the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals systems.

A Plain Dealer review of ODOT internal e-mails and news releases revealed that the agency had begun to consider lane closures on the Innerbelt Bridge as early as February. ODOT officials are considering reopening a third lane of traffic in each direction and closing the bridge to truck traffic.

Update: starting November 19, ODOT will ban trucks and buses from the bridge and will reopen one lane in each direction.

Regional groups of parishes in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese submitted plans for consolidating churches to the Vibrant Parish Life Committee. The greatest reduction in parishes will be in the City of Cleveland, where recommendations call for closing up to 26 of the 61 parishes. Bishop Lennon will make the final decision on closings next March.

If built, the proposed diverging diamond interchange at I-480 and Tiedeman Road would be one of the first in the nation. The City of Brooklyn plans to build the $12 million interchange in 2012.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday for the second phase of the Kamm's Corners streetscape improvement project (PDF). Work should be completed next year.

Update: the West Side Sun has more details.

The City of Fairview Park may purchase the Country Inn Motel on Lorain Road. Plans call for making the property attractive to developers by demolishing the building and preparing the site for redevelopment.

Some Independence councilmembers want to revise portions of the City's zoning code.

On Monday, South Euclid City Council unanimously approved the creation a community reinvestment area encompassing the entire city. The City of Brooklyn passed similar legislation last month.

The City of Euclid will receive roughly $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding in 2009, the same amount it received this year.

This week's Sun papers have more information about the recent ballot issues in Broadview Heights, Chagrin Falls, Highland Heights, South Euclid, Avon, and Twinsburg.

The final anchor store in the redeveloped Westgate shopping center opened late last month. Developers, retailers, and municipal officials in Fairview Park and Rocky River are all pleased with the project.

Midwest Real Estate News spoke with four Greater Cleveland real estate professionals about the local commercial real estate market.

Homebuilder Rysar Properties is struggling in the poor housing market. The company has lost $4 million and is shifting its focus from construction to renovation.

The credit crunch has pushed back the debut of the Cleveland District of Design. Cleveland State's Ned Hill said that its launch is probably a year away.

WVIZ will broadcast the television premiere of the documentary film Walking the River tonight at 10:00 p.m. It will be shown four more times over the next week.

The developer of Circle 118 is preparing to break ground on the townhouse development at Euclid Avenue and East 118th Street in University Circle. Work on the first of four phases could start within the next month.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business confirmed the news.

Election recap

Ohio
Issue 2 (Clean Ohio renewal): passed
Issue 3 (water rights amendment): passed

Brecksville
Issue 14 (Pilgrim Inn zoning overlay): passed

Broadview Heights
Issues 15-16, 20-25 (rezonings): passed
Issues 17-19 (Zoning Board of Appeals changes): passed

Chagrin Falls
Issue 32 (Architectural Review Board changes): passed

Highland Heights
Issue 63 (development in parks): passed

Oakwood
Issue 83 (hazardous storage buffer): passed

Pepper Pike
Issue 86 (sign regulations): passed
Issue 87 (police station rezoning): passed

Solon
Issue 103 (O-2 district changes): passed
Issue 105 (retail rezoning): passed

South Euclid
Issue 106 (remove point-of-sale inspections): passed

Tri-City Joint Recreation District
Issue 136 (1 mill levy): failed

Avon
Issue 10 (retail rezoning): passed

Portage County
Issue 10 (Park District levy): failed

Twinsburg
Issues 32-35 (zoning code changes): passed

For more results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Openers, or the Sun News.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is continuing to develop plans for a renovation and expansion. Architect Curt Fentress recently shared his latest ideas and floor plans. The museum hopes to obtain a LEED Platinum rating and remain open during construction.

The renovation of the Baker Electric Building on Euclid Avenue in Midtown has revealed many historic elements that had been obscured. The $7.1 million project already has attracted a half-dozen tenants.

Ohio EPA officials are not satisfied with the Cleveland Clinic's revised plans for a Twinsburg medical campus, and suggested further modifications. The Clinic submitted a second revision on Friday.

Update: the Twinsburg Bulletin has more details.

Crain's Cleveland Business looked at the storefront renovation programs in Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, and Parma.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded over $1 million in grants for local watershed protection programing. The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District received $54,000 for work on Euclid Creek, Grand River Partners received $140,000, and NEFCO received $100,000 for work on the Middle Cuyahoga River.

On Friday, the American Planning Association presented Mayor Jackson with the award designating the West Side Market in Ohio City as one of the country's Great Public Spaces.

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