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December 2008 Archives

The Jacobs Group dropped its plans to build retail on a 30-acre portion of the former Geauga Lake site in Bainbridge Township after the development's would-be anchor store pulled out of the project.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business has more details.

Laketran gave its inaugural Smart Growth Award to the City of Wickliffe for the way it has adopted transit-oriented development practices.

WKSU's Karen Schaefer reports on how Entrepreneurs for Sustainability is encouraging innovative business practices across Northeast Ohio.

The Macedonia Planning Commission approved expansion plans for the Wal-Mart at Macedonia Commons. The plans call for converting the store to a supercenter by building a 46,000-square-foot addition to the 121,000-square-foot store.

"The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America" is a new report from the Federal Reserve System and the Brookings Institution. It features case studies of 16 diverse communities from across the United States, including Cleveland's Central neighborhood (PDF). Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution offers suggestions for federal policies to address concentrated poverty.

The Washington Independent has more details about the Cleveland Housing Renewal Project's lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo. The banks had the case moved to federal court, but the Housing Renewal Project is seeking to have the case sent back to Cleveland Housing Court.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cleveland's new vacant land redevelopment guidelines could be a national model for urban sustainability.

Forest City executives complain about the lack of communication regarding negotiations for the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County officials still intend to select a site by January 15.

The Ohio Turnpike Commission will test sound barrier installations along the turnpike in Berea and Strongsville in as part of a noise mitigation pilot project.

Update: the Sun Star has more details.

Consultants recently released the second part of a study of the planned marina at the proposed Harbor Town development in Euclid, and City officials remain confident that the project will proceed.

Contractors that have worked on the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights filed about $9.5 million in liens against the property this month.

Valley View officials say that their concerns about City View Center have been addressed by the recent settlement between shopping center owners and the Ohio EPA.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture followed up its May summit with a new paper titled "From Rust Belt to Artist Belt: Challenges and Opportunities in Rust Belt Cites." It discusses the strengths and weaknesses of rust belt cities, what they can offer to artists, and what artists have to offer to cities. The full white paper (PDF, 13.5 MB) is available, as is an executive summary (PDF, 3.4 MB).

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, outgoing Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Michael Wager says that "the relocation of the port and creation of new port land is an opportunity to change not only the size and scope of the port's operations and to create the new trade district, but also an opportunity to remake the city's downtown lakefront and replace its aging infrastructure."

The winners of the 2008 Cleveland Design Competition were announced today. First prize went to Nini Spagl and Gerald Haselwanter of Wein, Austria, second prize to Sylvain Delboy, Dimitri Boutleux, and Sarah Kassler of San Francisco, and third prize to Elise Shelley and James Roche of Toronto. The Design Competition posted images of the winning entries.

As expected, the U.S. EPA announced yesterday that Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties failed to meet new standards for fine particle pollution. The Ohio EPA has three years to draft a compliance plan, and the counties must comply with the standards by April 2014. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court reversed itself (PDF) yesterday and temporarily reinstated the Clean Air Interstate Rule that it struck down in July. The EPA is still required to revise the rule but has no deadline for doing so.

New U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates say that Ohio gained 18,993 residents between July 2007 and July 2008. The 0.1% increase was one of the nation's slowest rates of growth. Between July 2000 and July 2008, the state grew by 1.1%, an increase of 121,767 people.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "anemic population growth makes it critical that this state and region develop an agenda that aims to restore and revitalize cities as the engines of job development and growth."

A proposed project to coordinate area transit agencies was not selected for a $1.7 million federal grant. Officials still intend to advance the concept.

The Plain Dealer looked at the renovation plans for the closed Variety Theater on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland's West Boulevard neighborhood and the La Salle Theater on East 185th Street in North Collinwood.

The fourth and final installment of the "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" series was held last week at the City Club. Participants in the five-person panel discussion talked about regional economic development initiatives (MP3, 27.7 MB). Dorothy Baunach served as moderator.

The Ohio Department of Development will distribute more than $83 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to communities across the state. Cuyahoga County will receive $1.3 million, the City of Cleveland will receive $9.4 million, and Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Lakewood, and Parma will also receive awards. The dollars are in addition to the appropriations directly awarded to cities and counties in September. The Ohio Department of Development also announced that Cuyahoga County will receive a $2.15 million Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant. It will be used to remediate property along the Cuyahoga River's Old Channel and prepare it for Great Lakes Towing Company's $23 million ship building project.

Update: Cuyahoga County and the Great Lakes Towing Company will supply local matches for the Clean Ohio grant.

The Plain Dealer examined how Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Adam Wasserman has transformed the agency's staff in an effort to make it a more powerful economic driver for the region.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission adopted guidelines for "Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland" (PDF, 9.1 MB). The guidelines were developed over the past year by the City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Progress Inc., and Kent State's Urban Design Collaborative, with funding from the Surdna Foundation. They summarized "the goals, principles and strategies for returning vacant properties to productive use at the city-wide scale" and identified "policy changes that will enable the city to better make use of this growing resource."

"What's at Stake," a new report from Environment Ohio, enumerates the environmental, economic, and human health threats posed by global warming. It says that "if unchecked, global warming will affect every part of Ohio in the coming century" and urges action to curb emissions of global warming pollutants.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Ohio leaders should be "pushing and preparing aggressively for action, emphasizing the cost if steps are not taken."

The Ashbury Towers property was sold at auction last week. It was divided into two parcels, and a piece with 12 completed and uncompleted townhouses sold for $375,000. The other portion, the site of the former Joseph & Feiss factory, was sold to a second developer for $255,000. The two developers could resume construction of the stalled development.

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the county land bank legislation on its final day of business last week, and the Ohio Senate concurred with the House version of the bill. The legislation was revised to so that it applies only to Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign the bill, and Cuyahoga County officials hope to begin operating the land bank early next year.

The population estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Euclid's African-American population continues to rise.

Last week, the Cleveland Foundation awarded $18.8 million in grants and loans for the fourth quarter of 2008. The grants include $4 million to the Fund for Our Economic Future, $272,500 to Cuyahoga County for the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center, and $225,000 to ParkWorks.

The Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District decided not to ban any counties from sending trash to landfills in the District. Under a controversial new rule, the District could prevent counties that recycle less waste than Stark, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties from using the landfills.

NOACA has drawn up a list of 65 "shovel ready" infrastructure projects that would use $197 million of the anticipated federal economic stimulus package. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out that Cleveland is among the cities that have not submitted a list of projects to the United States Conference of Mayors. Other area cities, like North Royalton, have participated. The National Parks Conservation Association has also prepared a list of recommended investments, which includes a project in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

RTA plans to provide long-term parking at some rapid transit stations in order to increase the popularity of its service to Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

North Ridgeville City Council rejected a rezoning request for the proposed 218-acre Hampton Place subdivision. They also extended a moratorium on planned community developments for 90 days.

RTA is counting on receiving a $5 million allocation from 2009 Ohio budget in order to avert further service cuts and fare increases. The agency is also considering entering the derivatives market in an attempt to stabilize its diesel fuel costs.

A subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress Incorporated is suing two banks in an attempt to prevent them from selling foreclosed houses at deflated prices. On Monday, Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court issued a restraining order blocking the sale of 36 houses for at least 14 days.

Mayor Brewer of East Cleveland proposed building a 12,000-seat amphitheater in his city's portion of historic Forest Hill Park. The idea would require approval from the Forest Hill Park Advisory Commission, and at least one of its three members is opposed to the concept. Others question the need for additional concert venues.

Steven Litt feels that the Innerbelt Bridge and Opportunity Corridor projects should be "viewed as part of a comprehensive system that could boost the city's economy for decades to come." He says that the planning of the two projects has been slowed by mediocre work by ODOT and a lack of advocacy from local leaders. He also encourages ODOT to reconsider the proposed southern alignment for a new Innerbelt Bridge.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded a $27,000 grant to the City of Parma from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund. It will be used for the acquisition of a 2.85-acre riparian site near West Creek.

This week's Scene includes a look at the increasing popularity of urban farming in Cleveland. Early next month, City Council may vote on legislation relaxing the rules for raising chickens and bees. At the state level, the Ohio Food Policy Council is promoting the advancement of local food systems.

The jury of the Fairfax intergenerational housing architecture competition awarded first place to a design by Fernando Bonilla of Maryland. The Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation will pursue funding to further develop the plans and build the project.

The Ohio Senate approved the countywide land bank legislation on Wednesday. It now moves to the Ohio House, where a vote may be held next week.

Update: WKSU has more information.

A group of Cleveland State University undergraduate history students assembled a collection of historic images from the Cuyahoga County Archives.

The University Circle Design Review Committee approved the Cleveland Institute of Art's revised plans for an expansion of its McCullough Center. The previous design included banners covering the entire west facade, while the updated renderings show an unobscured northwest corner of the building.

The Plain Dealer's editorial page again addresses the West Shoreway reconstruction plans, encouraging Cleveland and ODOT officials to collaborate on making the project a Cleveland signature.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Crocker-Stearns Road Extension project will be held on December 18. The North Olmsted portion of the construction will be completed soon, and construction in Westlake will wrap up in the spring. Related work is scheduled to be finished in September 2009.

With the Ohio EPA lawsuit resolved, McGill Property Group hopes to proceed with a second phase of construction at City View shopping center in Garfield Heights. Developers of the nearby Bridgeview Crossing shopping center may ask City Council to approve modified plans for its development.

Project organizers and consultants presented the Big Creek Trail and Neighborhood Connector Plan to Brooklyn City Council on Monday. A public meeting on the plan will take place on December 15 at 3:00 in Brooklyn City Hall.

The lack of oversight at the closed 40-acre Schaaf Road Landfill in Brooklyn Heights and Independence continues to trouble local officials.

The City of Cleveland allocated $175,000 in CDBG funds for the purchase of the landmark Variety Theater on Lorain Avenue. The Friends of the Historic Variety Theater are raising funds for its restoration, and hope to install a new marquee in the spring.

The First Suburbs Development Council's storefront renovation program has lost funding due to Cuyahoga County budget cuts.

South Euclid City Council authorized the expenditure of $1.8 million to raze the north side of Cedar Center. Demolition is expected to begin later this month.

Beyond REO, a new report from Case's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, tracked property transfers of Cuyahoga County houses following sheriff's sales. In 2005, 3.62% of these houses sold at extremely depressed prices. By June 2008, the proportion had grown to 42.26%. Many of these properties are in Cleveland's east side neighborhoods. The report identified the proposed countywide land banks as a potential method of returning distressed properties to productive use.

Meanwhile, a new policy discussion paper (PDF) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland describes the countywide land bank legislation. In addition, University of Missouri - St. Louis Professor Todd Swanstrom compared the ways that Cleveland and St. Louis have responded to the foreclosure crisis (PDF).

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved $1.2 million in new grants, including $300,000 for a new government efficiency initiative, $250,000 for Team NEO, and $106,300 for Cleveland State University to produce the 2009 Dashboard of Economic Indicators.

Update: the government efficiency program will have two elements: grants for intergovernmental collaboration, and a public engagement component.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials are revising the criteria used to set transportation funding priorities. The new formulas will place less emphasis on traditional factors like traffic volume and capacity, and give more weight to economic development and environmental factors. ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council will vote on the changes on December 18.

(via ClevelandTOD)

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data for all communities with a population greater than 20,000. Previous releases were limited to areas with more than 65,000 people. The estimates, which reflect data collected between 2005 and 2007, present an opportunity to evaluate demographic trends in mid-size cities. The release reveals information about population shifts in Cleveland's suburbs, declining household incomes in the Akron area, and regional poverty statistics. American Community Survey data can be accessed at American Factfinder and at

Developers secured financing for 27 Coltman, a luxury townhouse development at Coltman Road between East 119th and East 120th Streets in Little Italy. They plan to begin work within a few weeks. Starting prices for the 27 townhouses will be between $299,000 and $499,000.

Frank Jackson did not reappoint attorney Michael Wager to the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and instead nominated attorney Marc Krantz. Wager, who has been serving as the board's chairmain, recently spoke about the future of the port at the City Club. Audio of his talk (MP3, 20.7 MB) is now available.

This week, the American Wind Energy Association held its national Supply Chain Workshop in Cleveland, and Case Western Reserve University will hold a conference on offshore wind turbine development. The Plain Dealer published an overview of the plans for a Lake Erie wind farm three miles north of Cleveland, WKSU examined the wind turbine industry in Northeast Ohio, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked at offshore turbine proposals from across the region.

Update: Governor Strickland addressed the workshop on Tuesday.

While RTA's 2005 plans for a transit oriented development and a new Brookpark Road rapid station did not come to fruition, the agency still plans to build a new station. However, it has been delayed because other projects are higher priorities.

President-elect Obama's economic recovery plan includes "the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s," and on Friday, NOACA's Governing Board will consider a resolution urging Congress to "target additional infrastructure funding to states with the highest unemployment." Officials in Geauga and Lake counties are preparing lists of "shovel-ready" projects.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that cooperation through the Tech Belt Initiative between Cleveland and Pittsburgh "is already beginning to pay off."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Lee Kamps says that Greater Cleveland's fragmented system of local government is wasteful, and that "we need to form some kind of metropolitan government with one mayor, one City Council, one Police Department and one Fire Department."

Eleven landfills in Ohio, including one in Solon, are participating in the U.S. EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program, and more will be added soon. The program promotes the use of landfill gas as a renewable energy source.

McGill Properties wants to restructure the tax increment financing agreement for its Greenbriar Crossing development in Parma Heights, without which the company may be unable to proceed with construction.

The Great Lakes Compact took effect yesterday, and the new Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council held its first meeting (PDF) in Chicago.

The delayed plans to convert the West Shoreway to a boulevard are regaining momentum. The Ohio Department of Transportation has agreements in place, and plans to begin Phase I work (PDF) in 2010. Phase II construction is now scheduled to start no sooner than 2013. ODOT will hold a public open house on December 11 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

Update: a Plain Dealer graphic breaks down the plans.

The Hope VI redevelopment of CMHA's Garden Valley Estates in Kinsman is underway, and so far, 19 of the 23 buildings have been demolished. Burten, Bell, Carr has photographs of the progress.

Maryland Delegate Alfred Carr, a Cleveland native, took a trip on the new HealthLine and considered whether a similar bus rapid transit system could be implemented in Maryland.

Ohio Rail Development Commission officials are optimistic about the possibility of receiving $100 million in proposed federal infrastructure stimulus funds for the planned 3-C Corridor.

The Heights Observer shares additional information about the East Derbyshire Road Rehabilitation Project, an effort by the City of Cleveland Heights to stabilize a neighborhood by converting duplexes to condominiums.

Work on the Pearl Road/West 25th Street Comprehensive Transportation Study is nearing completion.

The City of Olmsted Falls hired Poggemeyer Design Group to develop a master plan for the City's downtown. Earlier this year, the company completed a study of the Columbia Road corridor.

The Bainbridge Township Trustees are preparing for a legal challenge of the Township's large-lot residential zoning. In North Ridgeville, City Council is evaluating planned community development legislation. A Council committee recommended extending a moratorium on planned community developments.

Although the proposed regional fire district has dwindled from seven cities to two, Mayor Zanotti of Parma Heights intends to proceed with the concept. He hopes that Parma and Parma Heights will be ready to implement the plan in January 2010.

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District dropped its plans to build a recycling center at the General Chemical site in Garfield Heights and Cuyahoga Heights, because environmental remediation costs grew beyond initial expectations.

The Bridgeview Crossing shopping center under construction in Garfield Heights continues to experience financial setbacks. In addition to the previously reported issues with the Lowe's store, Target has not closed on the purchase of 8.5 acres for its store. Port Authority bonds for the development are on hold.

Mayor Kurtz of Independence proposed the creation of the Southern Suburban Communities Council, an organization that would facilitate cooperation among eight suburban municipalities in southern Cuyahoga County.

A USGS study of Tinkers Creek and its tributaries detected "a total of 12 antibiotic, 20 pharmaceutical, 41 wastewater, and 22 hydrophobic compounds" in the water at one or more sites. It did not identify whether their presence poses a threat to plants, wildlife, or humans. Further testing is planned.

The City of Cleveland sued Standex International, the former owner of the Trinity property on Detroit Road, and is seeking more than $1.5 million in compensation for the environmental cleanup of the site. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA reached a settlement with the owners of City View Center in Garfield Heights. The developers agreed to make major infrastructure improvements (PDF) and pay a $1.2 million fine.

Despite the adoption of the Great Lakes Compact, the Great Lakes are facing many challenges. The Christian Science Monitor reports on "the cocktail of assaults" that includes invasive species, falling water levels, rising temperatures, and water quality issues.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority staffers are ready to solicit for consultants to develop a plan for redeveloping the current port site. The port's board hopes to select firms by late February and have a completed plan in September 2009.

Steven Litt urges Cleveland Institute of Art leaders to drop plans for covering the majority of its planned expansion with large banners, calling it a "strangely comical" idea.

A group of Greater Clevelanders traveled to Columbus yesterday to advocate for Senate Bill 353, the countywide land bank bill. Supporters hope that the Ohio legislature will approve the bill in this month's lame duck session.

Update: WCPN has more details.

Wal-Mart donated $65,000 to the Streetsboro Heritage Foundation for the construction of a new foundation for the historic Singletary House. The contribution will ensure the survival of the 1828 house.

Steven Litt was impressed by the plans for the redesign of the bus and rapid transit station at the base of Cedar Hill in University Circle. Under the plans, the transfer station on the south side of Cedar Glen would be replaced with a new public park.

University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne appeared on WKYC's Between the Lines yesterday to discuss the future of the district.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer express optimism about the movement in the Medical Mart talks and about the continued reinvestment in University Circle. Another editorial follows up on the newspaper's recent feature on Pittsburgh, and says that Cleveland's leaders can learn much from Pittsburgh. However, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Colin McNickle feels that "the Plain Dealer story might go down in history as the most uninformed look at Pittsburgh ever written."

(via Callahan's Cleveland Diary and Blog 5)

The Ohio EPA is close to reaching a settlement with developers and the City of Garfield Heights in the City View Center lawsuit. A trial was scheduled to begin on December 8, but was pushed back to December 15.

Population growth in North Ridgeville is straining the resources of the school district's bus fleet. Meanwhile, police departments in Geauga and Lake counties are struggling to deal with a crime rate that has increased along with their populations.

Euclid officials plan to use the City's funds from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program to identify, purchase, and demolish 74 foreclosed homes. The City of Brook Park will begin participating in a program that will allow it to take ownership of abandoned homes.

The proposed seven-city joint fire district is down to two communities now that Brook Park has pulled out of the the study. The Cities of Parma and Parma Heights are the only remaining participants.

The City of Brooklyn received a $5 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the construction of a diverging diamond interchange at I-480 and Tiedeman Road. City officials are seeking federal funding for the $12 million project.

The City of Solon is developing a long-term stormwater management plan that will replace a plan written by consultants last year.

The City of Westlake and property owner Charles Shimola settled a legal dispute that began in the 1980s.

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