An Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges Congress to adopt President Obama's proposal to invest $475 million in a Great Lakes restoration initiative, saying that "lawmakers on the budget and appropriation committees must ensure the money finds a secure place in the federal spending plan."
April 2009 Archives
30 April 2009
The City of Cleveland and a group of neighboring communities hope to create an aerotropolis around Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Mayor Jackson proposed the concept in 2007. Cleveland officials also want to build retail on City-owned property near the airport.
29 April 2009
The American Lung Association's 2009 State of the Air report gave Cuyahoga County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The 10th annual report listed Greater Cleveland as having the nation's 10th worst year-round particle pollution, but unlike last year, did not include the metropolitan area in the list of cities with the worst short-term particle pollution.
Planning Commissioners Journal Editor Wayne Senville recently made three stops in Northeast Ohio as part of his trip across the country. He visited and wrote about how the public library in Hudson has become a community hub, the flexibility and diversity of Shaker Heights, and the strategies identified in the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland initiative. Map of the Week also reposted several images from the Re-Imagining Cleveland guidelines.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a list of civil works projects that will be funded by $4.6 billion in federal stimulus funds. The list includes $7.4 million for three dredging projects in the Cleveland harbor.
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners issued a Friday deadline for reaching an agreement with the City of Cleveland on the purchase price for the existing convention center, which would be used in the development of the planned Medical Mart. The Commissioners "will consider other sites" if they cannot reach a deal. The City and County are about $7.5 million apart in their offers.
Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman spoke with WTAM's Ted Klopp about the upcoming renovation of Perk Plaza in downtown Cleveland.
28 April 2009
The former Howard Johnson's near the East Shoreway and East 55th Street will soon be demolished. The 12-story hotel closed in 1992, and several developers have unsuccessfully attempted to rehabilitate the long-vacant tower. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's planned new facilities are not far from the property.
The Ohio Development Financing Advisory Council recommended awarding a $9.7 million loan to Mitchell Schneider's 79th Street Properties LLC for the development of Shoreway Industrial Park on the site of the former White Motors complex at East 79th Street in Cleveland. The loan will be forgiven if the project is completed within two years and it generates 105 new jobs within three years.
In a Plain Dealer op-ed, University of Dayton professor Michael Gorman says that Ohio should invest in its freight rail infrastructure in addition to improving its passenger rail network: "Investing in our freight rail system would be smart spending that would stimulate jobs now, reduce oil consumption, extend the life of existing roadways and help the environment."
Alex Kotlowitz, author of a recent New York Times article about the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland, will appear at the second event in the Levin College Forum's "Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure" series on May 11. Registration for the event is free.
Members of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association are skeptical about the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and question the need for regional revenue sharing. The Regional Prosperity Initiative will hold its first monthly webinar on May 1.
An article in the March/April issue of the Journal of Housing & Community Development highlighted the Tremont Pointe development in Cleveland.
27 April 2009
This week's episode of Feagler & Friends looked at the debate surrounding the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to rebuild the Cleveland Innerbelt. The guests were three critics of ODOT's plans and process: Tom Bier of Cleveland State University, James Haviland of Midtown Cleveland Incorporated, and Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer.
University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne wrote a Plain Dealer op-ed in which he calls on local leaders to adopt a smart growth strategy that includes city-county consolidation, regional tax sharing, and changes to state policies that enable urban sprawl.
In a News-Herald column, Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio makes a case for increasing state funding for Ohio's public transit systems. She says that "transportation spending should better reflect the positive role public transit can play in creating a more equitable, vibrant and sustainable Ohio."
24 April 2009
The new Cuyahoga County Community Planning GIS was unveiled at the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission meeting yesterday. Built upon the CEGIS platform, it succeeds our Brownfields GIS application and offers many data layers and spatial analysis tools. We will be working to enhance and improve the application and welcome your suggestions, comments, and questions.
The Ohio EPA yesterday announced plans to invest $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and low-interest state loans in water and sewer infrastructure projects. Approximately $46 million will go to projects in Northeast Ohio, including $5 million for two NEORSD sewer projects. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled plans for $750 million in stimulus funds, of which the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will receive about $7.8 million. The award will fund five projects in the Park. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the dollars (PDF) will help address the Park's maintenance backlog. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will reallocate $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds it recently assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland to 52 other projects across the state. ODOT officials say that the funding will be replaced with other state and federal dollars.
Local bloggers provided recaps of several recent events:
- Dru McKeown shared some pictures and his thoughts about the recent tours of two historic Cleveland churches.
- Jeffrey Sugalski posted his notes from yesterday's Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation community meeting.
- Rust Wire has a summary of the "Building our Future Beyond Foreclosure" event held at Cleveland State University yesterday.
- Robert Stockham wrote about this afternoon's ribbon cutting ceremony for the Green Cottages in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
The Urbanophile used personal observations and commentary from other bloggers to compile an outsider's view of Cleveland's problems. The post engendered a thoughtful conversation, which the Urbanophile highlighted and replied to in a second post.
(via Brewed Fresh Daily)
Cleveland Ideas is a new website where citizens can make suggestions for making Northeast Ohio a better place to live and work and vote on ideas offered by others. The strongest concepts will be compiled into a report that will be distributed to area leaders.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership named Terri Hamilton Brown as project director for the Opportunity Corridor project. She will serve as a liaison to ODOT and will coordinate planning for the proposed 2¾-mile boulevard. The Partnership also announced the creation of an Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee, which will be chaired by Terry Egger and Jamie Ireland.
On Tuesday, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees awarded contracts for the construction of the new Puritas rapid transit station. A May groundbreaking is planned. General Manager Joe Calabrese also updated the board on the agency's projected budget shortfall.
Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about RTA's budget situation.
Council members from Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights will meet next week to discuss a possible application to the EfficientGovNow program.
Update: the cities probably will not apply for a grant.
Euclid City Council authorized the City's housing department to acquire additional houses for demolition or renovation. The houses will be purchased from HUD and banks in groups of ten.
The City of Euclid will proceed with the second phase of planning for the Harbor Town Marina project. Consultants JJR will continue to develop plans and the City will begin applying for federal and state permits.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority held three open houses this week about the Port's planned relocation. Cleveland residents raised concerns about a loss of public access to the lakefront.
22 April 2009
About 150 people attended yesterday's public hearing about the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans for rebuilding the Innerbelt. Businesses in Midtown continue to object to the planned closure of exit ramps at Carnegie and Prospect Avenues. WTAM's Ted Klopp spoke with ODOT Project Manager Craig Hebebrand about the plans.
Tim Grendell and Chris Varley discussed Northeast Ohio's water resources at the City Club today (MP3, 55.3 MB). It was the final event in the "Water–Our Region's Biggest Asset" series.
Senators Voinovich and Brown introduced the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2009, which would establish new rules and supply funding for addressing combined sewer overflows. They introduced a similar bill last year, but it was not enacted.
Cleveland City Council is preparing to proceed with a scaled-back renovation of downtown's Perk Plaza. Councilman Cimperman said that "the goal is to break ground in May or June or as soon as we can."
Update: City Council's Finance Committee approved the work.
Cleveland Institute of Art students will present an exhibition titled "Greyfield: Reconsideration of a Space" on April 25 at Euclid Square Mall. It's intended to encourage reconsideration of "the dead shopping mall as critical space by forging a relationship between the artworks presented and the location."
21 April 2009
The $500 million expansion and renovation of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in University Circle is continuing. Construction is scheduled to finish in 2014.
A town hall meeting about the Big Dipper will be held on April 25 at the VFW hall in Aurora. Organizers say that the event will celebrate the history of the roller coaster and explore options for preserving it.
20 April 2009
Ohio Department of Transportation officials say that the $465 million planned new westbound Innerbelt Bridge will be a straightforward girder bridge with a signature design. ODOT will accept comments about its Innerbelt plans at a public hearing tomorrow.
A Plain Dealer editorial on the new job sprawl report from the Brookings Institution concludes that "metropolitan areas are America's economic engines, and as long as the cores are eroding, it will be harder to create and sustain jobs."
With the first event in the Levin College Forum's "Building our Future Beyond Foreclosure" series approaching, Kurt Karakul of the Third Federal Foundation and the Forum's Kathryn Hexter wrote a Plain Dealer op-ed about recovering from the foreclosure crisis. They noted that "we have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how this historic community and, indeed, Cleveland itself, can reshape its future and once again become a progressive and dynamic community."
While the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is closing churches in urban areas, ground was broken for a new Catholic church in exurban Grafton. Parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace have been raising funds for the construction of the new $3 million facility.
On March 31, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision (PDF) and upheld the results of a March 2008 ballot issue in Solon, where voters had rejected a rezoning for a proposed senior housing development on a site near near Hawthorne Valley Country Club. Supporters of developer TransCon Builders asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
17 April 2009
Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his strategic plan for high-speed rail in the United States. It includes two connections to Cleveland as part of the Chicago Hub Network: the 3-Corridor that would link Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and a line between Cleveland and Chicago that would stop in Toledo. Governor Strickland said that Ohio will compete for federal stimulus dollars that have been allocated for high-speed rail.
The Wall Street Journal looked at the role of artists as urban pioneers during the foreclosure crisis, focusing on examples in Cleveland's Collinwood and Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods.
The story of a Lakewood house illustrates the difficulties in breaking the cycle of foreclosure and disrepair, as well as one possible solution.
Update: Susan Condon Love wrote more about the house.
The Pearl Road/West 25th Street Comprehensive Transportation Study will be unveiled at at public meeting on April 23 at the Gavin Lee Party Center in Old Brooklyn. The plan was was adopted by the Cleveland City Planning Commission on March 20.
Mayor Brick of Chagrin Falls would like to create an ad hoc committee to advise the Village on bicycle and walking trail issues. The committee would facilitate planning for multipurpose trails that would connect with networks in Cuyahoga and Geauga counties.
The developer of the planned Village View condominiums in Chagrin Falls is continuing to pursue the project, and hopes to begin construction "during this building season."
The owner of Bennington Village in Parma Heights is renovating the condominiums for sale, and has requested a 10-year tax abatement for the property. City Council is considering the implications of his proposal.
16 April 2009
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners today unanimously voted to adopt a development agreement with developer Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the construction and operation of the planned new convention center and Medical Mart. A series of four additional agreements will eventually replace the development agreement, and could take a year to finalize. The next step will be to decide on a location for the new facilities. The Commissioners posted the final development agreement (PDF), and WTAM has audio from the meeting.
The Fund for Our Economic Future received 65 project abstracts for proposed government collaborations across the 16-county Northeast Ohio region. The projects are competing for $300,000 in grants available through the EfficientGovNow program. The next stage is the public comment period, which will begin on May 1.
Recent reports by Francisca Richter and Lisa Nelson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland compared the way the foreclosure crisis has played out in Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood and the Pittsburgh borough of Braddock. Although the two areas look similar on paper, the foreclosure rate has been much higher in Collinwood. The difference may be attributable to the different regulatory environments of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Cleveland City Council is reviewing legislation intended to address aesthetic and safety concerns of wind turbine installation. The rules are meant to regulate their construction in the City's neighborhoods, not the proposed offshore wind farm. Steven Litt believes that there is a need to institute design standards in order to take full advantage of anticipated investments in wind energy.
A ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of the first of the Green Cottages in the Cleveland EcoVillage will be held on April 24.
With the Greater Circle Seniors Design Charette starting today, WCPN spoke with Rob Hilton, President of the McGregor Foundation and Margaret Calkins of IDEAS, Inc., one of the judges.
15 April 2009
Prompted by the recent proposal from Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo, this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of municipal mergers and collaborations. Mayor Rothschild of University Heights remains strongly opposed to the concept.
TranSystems Corp. developed preliminary plans for a redesign of the I-77 interchange at Route 82 in Broadview Heights. City officials are trying to gather support for the plans.
Aurora City Council voted to begin a "meaningful dialogue" about the proposed Aurora-Bainbridge JEDD, but the Bainbridge Township Trustees rejected the proposal by a vote of 2-1.
Greater Ohio released a final draft of "Addressing Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the next steps" (PDF), a new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution. He identified seven objectives and 26 recommendations for state-level policy changes. The paper will be formally published by the Brookings Institution later this spring.
14 April 2009
Several aspects of Cuyahoga County's convention center and Medical Mart plans have recently appeared in the news:
- The Plain Dealer further reviewed the draft development agreement between the County and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., and also answered questions about the agreement. An editorial concluded that the project is worth pursuing.
- Commissioner Jones said that the City of Cleveland's asking price for the current convention center is too high, and noted that the availability of the Cleveland Play House site "creates an opportunity worth exploring."
- Chris Seper of MedCity News interviewed MMPI's Mark Falanga about the project, as did Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey.
- Cuyahoga County will seek a property tax exemption for the new facilities.
- Tradeshow Week has a recap of the recent events.
The Plain Dealer's recognition of the Year of the River continues with a look at how the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped to advance the environmental movement at a national level and the myths that surround it. The resulting 1972 Clean Water Act has played a large role in the improvement of the River's water quality.
Members of Acacia Country Club regained control of the property when a judge dismissed a court-appointed receiver who had been pursuing a sale of the property. Last summer, members began to explore the sale of the 160-acre country club in Lyndhurst.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority may break ground for the new Puritas rapid transit station later this month. The $9.6 million project, designed by DeWolff Partnership Architects, will be one of the first local investments to benefit from federal stimulus funding. Construction is expected to take 18 months. RTA also issued an RFP for the design of a replacement for the Brookpark station.
The Stockyard Redevelopment Organization is facing a funding shortfall. Leaders are looking at short-term and long-term strategies for the future of the community development corporation.
Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo said he has received good feedback about his proposal to begin examining a potential Cleveland Heights-University Heights merger. He also advocated for the concept in a Plain Dealer op-ed.
13 April 2009
Developers of the Spillway project in Chagrin Falls have nearly completed designing the mixed-use development, and are working to align financing and tenants.
The Euclid City Schools will not convert Euclid Square Mall into a school building, but leaders are considering other options for building large middle and elementary schools.
09 April 2009
The Cuyahoga County Commissioners yesterday released a draft of the development agreement (PDF) between Cuyahoga County and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the construction and operation of the planned Medical Mart and new convention center. MMPI is expected to sign the agreement shortly, and the Commissioners may approve the document next week. The 62-page document expands upon last year's tentative agreement.
The Commissioners also released detailed construction requirements (PDFs) that were prepared by consultants Conventional Wisdom Corp. In addition, they hired law firm Bricker & Eckler to help negotiate property acquisitions for the new facilities.
In this week's Scene, Michael Gill considers the future of the churches that the Cleveland Catholic Diocese will close in 2010. Because the church buildings will lose their property tax exemptions once they are no longer used by the Diocese, the Diocese may demolish the churches to reduce its tax obligations.
Update: the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt also examined the challenges of preserving historic church buildings. The Ohio & Erie Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America will lead a tour of St. Colman and St. Stephen (PDF) churches on April 18.
08 April 2009
The Cleveland Play House has entered into talks to join Cleveland State University's drama program in a move to the Allen Theater (PDF) at Playhouse Square. Reconfiguring and expanding the Allen Theater would cost an estimated $30 million, and the Play House's longtime home in Midtown is for sale. The Cleveland Clinic is believed to be interested in the 12-acre site, which abuts its main campus. Steven Litt notes that the future of the existing Play House complex is now uncertain. The complex includes two historic 1926 theaters and a notable 1983 postmodern addition designed by Philip Johnson, and is not protected by any landmark ordinances.
Update: a Plain Dealer editorial enthusiastically supports the concept.
A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee selected the New York firm of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects to develop a master plan for the redevelopment of the Port's current downtown Cleveland facilities. The firm has worldwide experience in urban waterfront planning, including an award-winning master plan for Battery Park in New York City. PA Consulting Group of London was picked to prepare a market analysis of the site. Port Authority committees also learned that the Port should receive $15 million in stimulus funds, which is less than the $26.5 million it was seeking.
07 April 2009
Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution analyzed data from 1998 to 2006 to update research on job sprawl in 98 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. She found that private sector employment continued to decentralize. Over 45% of employees work more than 10 miles away from downtowns, compared to the 21% who work within three miles of city centers. Greater Cleveland was one of 53 large metropolitan areas classified as experiencing rapid decentralization, with 45.7% of jobs located more than 10 miles away and 16.2% of jobs located within three miles of downtown as of 2006.
The Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights has begun rehabilitation of the first house obtained for the organization's Home in the Heights program. The house on Westover Drive in the Forest Hill neighborhood will be sold when work is completed.
The proposed elimination of the Ohio Urban University Program would lead to layoffs at Cleveland State University. A Plain Dealer editorial again urges state lawmakers to save the program.
The Cleveland Clinic will soon raze the Art Deco Carnegie Medical Building at Carnegie Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland. The Clinic has no immediate plans to build on the site, which will be used as a surface parking lot.
03 April 2009
Container manufacturer Nalgene conducted a survey of wastefulness in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Cleveland finished as the 16th least wasteful city in the nation, ranking highly for library usage and saving leftover food, but scoring poorly in avoiding driving for short trips, use of energy-efficient light bulbs, rain barrel usage, and turning off the lights when not in the room. San Francisco was named as the country's least wasteful city.
At a recent University Heights Charter Review Commission meeting, a Cleveland Heights councilman introduced a proposal to begin discussing a possible merger of the two cities. The Charter Review Commission did not comment on the topic, but Mayor Rothschild of University Heights is not interested. Mayor Kelley of Cleveland Heights has raised the subject of combining fire departments.
The City of Euclid will purchase at least 10 homes for $1 each through HUD's Dollar Homes program. Some will be demolished and others will be rehabilitated through the use of the City's Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds.
02 April 2009
The owner of the deteriorating Hilliard Square Theatre in Lakewood hopes to sell the building to someone who would restore it.
Budget committees in the U.S. House and Senate included President Obama's proposal for a $475 million Great Lakes restoration fund in their budget resolutions. An editorial in the Blade says that "protecting and restoring the Great Lakes is not a luxury but a critical necessity," and in a Detroit Free Press op-ed, Rich Bowman of the Nature Conservancy suggests investments in natural systems.
As part of their proposal to create an Aurora-Bainbridge Township JEDD, officials with shopping center developers McGill Property Group are seeking $600,000 from Bainbridge Township and $600,000 from the City of Aurora.
The Levin College Forum at CSU will host "a discussion about the unprecedented opportunity for economic transformation on Cleveland's lakefront" on April 30. "Transforming Cleveland by Building a World Class Waterfront" will include an overview from City of Cleveland and Port Authority leaders, followed by a panel discussion.
A bipartisan conference committee of state legislators crafted a compromise biennial transportation budget, and although a disagreement prevented a vote on Tuesday, the Ohio House and Senate both passed the bill yesterday. Governor Strickland signed the budget bill late last night. The final version kept $250 million for passenger rail along the 3-C Corridor.
01 April 2009
The Cauldron has more information about planned construction across Cleveland State University's campus, including the North Campus Neighborhood Project.
The span of the Columbus Road Lift Bridge over the Cuyahoga River in the Flats will be replaced, and the two lift towers will be repaired and upgraded. The $49 million project is scheduled to begin in November 2011, and construction will last about a year.
In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier alleges that the Ohio Department of Transportation operated with a predetermined conclusion when developing its Innerbelt reconstruction plans, saying that the "public meetings and associated discussions were essentially sham events." He feels that ODOT put traffic engineering ahead of other considerations, calling it "an empire that simply does what it wants to do."
Most Greater Cleveland communities are not taking a regional approach with their requests for federal stimulus funds. However, Mayor Kelley of Cleveland Heights recently suggested combining his city's fire department with those of Shaker Heights and University Heights.
The Akron Beacon Journal examined how the presence of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has affected Boston Township in Summit County. The Township Trustees harbor some lingering resentment over its creation.
A Plain Dealer editorial says that Greater Cleveland "needs to re-establish itself as a magnet for new Americans" to again become "one of America's most prosperous cities." It also praises the Greater Cleveland Partnership for including immigration as one of the focus areas of its public policy agenda.
University Circle Incorporated shared a conceptual design for the development of Lot 45, a 200-space parking lot near the Uptown development. Early plans call for building a residence hall for Cleveland Institute of Art students, a 1,000-space parking garage, and 100,000 square feet of office and retail space.
On Thursday, the Cleveland Foundation announced $10 million in first-quarter grants. The awards included $450,000 for three Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority initiatives, $827,000 for Neighborhood Progress Incorporated's Strategic Investment Initiative, $167,000 for the Cleveland Housing Network, and $450,000 for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. The Gund Foundation also awarded $1 million in grants, including $42,000 for the OSU Extension's Community Gardening program, $70,000 for the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, and $50,000 for the GreenCityBlueLake Institute.
The federal stimulus bill passed in February includes $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. The grants are available to fund projects that reduce energy use or improve energy efficiency. Ohio's share of the allocations is $84 million. Cuyahoga County will receive $5.8 million and the City of Cleveland will receive $4.5 million.