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May 2009 Archives

The City of Cleveland quietly initiated repairs of the historic Coast Guard station at Whiskey Island. Workers have begun replacing its deteriorated roof. At the same time, a group of Coast Guard veterans is bringing a retired Coast Guard cutter to Cleveland. They hope to restore it as a maritime museum at the station.

Update: the Apalachee arrived in Cleveland on Sunday.

North Royalton officials attended the recent ICSC conference in Las Vegas and came to the conclusion that the Town Center district must be developed in phases. Community Development Director Thomas Jordan said that "the concept of getting 300 acres under development all at one time and getting a bank to finance the acquisition and construction in one large loan is unrealistic."

Cleveland Councilwoman Dona Brady introduced legislation that would designate Saints Philip and James church and school as a Cleveland Landmark. It is one of the churches being closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

Friday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of cycling issues in Northeast Ohio

Update: Jim Sheehan of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op shared his thoughts in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

ODNR's Office of Coastal Management awarded more than $1 million in Coastal Management Assistance Grants to 10 organizations and government entities (PDF). The grants include $50,000 to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for its Walworth Run Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study and $68,250 to the Cleveland Metroparks to develop a shoreline management plan for Huntington Reservation.

Update: West Life has more details.

Cuyahoga County officials opened negotiations for the purchase of three buildings that occupy a portion of the site of the planned Medical Mart. The buildings at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street are the Justice Center Parking Garage, the Sportsman deli, and 113 St. Clair, an office building. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the County will vacate its nearby Administration Building for the project.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for the Eleven River townhouses in Rocky River. Construction of the $7 million project is scheduled to begin this summer.

The City of Beachwood will build a half-mile road for Eaton's planned new headquarters in the Chagrin Highlands. Half of the funding for Spectrum Parkway West will come from a state grant.

The City of Fairview Park is nearing its planned purchase of the Country Inn Motel on Lorain Road. The Cuyahoga County Department of Development is providing a loan that will enable the City to redevelop the site.

The proposed seven-city Westshore Regional Fire District is one of the projects competing for funding through the EfficientGovNow program. The Westshore Council of Governments would use the money to conduct a six-month study of the concept.

Update: the COG is interviewing consultants for the study.

RTA held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the new Puritas rapid transit station in Cleveland. Construction of the $9.6 million Red Line station is scheduled to be completed in fall 2010.

A Plain Dealer editorial calls the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank "the most ambitious and aggressive weapon local leaders can use to push back against the foreclosure crisis and its profiteers."

While automakers have favored suburban locations for car dealers in recent years, the recently announced Chrysler dealer closings appear to indicate a preference for exurban dealerships. Of the 14 Greater Cleveland dealerships slated to close, eight are in Cuyahoga County. Only four will remain open in Cuyahoga County.

Steven Litt identified the challenges facing the new Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee as it begins its efforts to guide the planning of the proposed boulevard.

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court issued a temporary restraining order against Wells Fargo Bank, ordering it to stop selling foreclosed houses in the City. It could prevent the bank from selling as many as 183 properties for up to 28 days. Cleveland Housing Renewal Project sued Wells Fargo in December, charging that the bank was dumping distressed properties that it owned in Cleveland.

Update: attorneys for Wells Fargo appeared in court to fight the restraining order.

The Ohio EPA filed contempt of court charges (PDF) against developer John McGill for failing to make environmental improvements at City View Center in Garfield Heights. McGill Property Group officials say that the company lacks the money to install the systems at the shopping center. John McGill recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida.

Beachwood officials intend to make the Commerce Park area more attractive to biomedical businesses.

Fairview Park officials are developing a strategy to address the elevated number of retail vacancies along Lorain Road.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge gave the owners of the old Howard Johnson's hotel in Cleveland a three-week deadline to demonstrate progress in their plans to redevelop the tower. Contractors for the City of Cleveland began razing the building in April, but were halted last week.

The Ohio House passed House Bill 3 yesterday by a vote of 54 to 43. The foreclosure reform legislation now goes to the Ohio Senate, which is not expected to immediately consider the bill because members are concentrating on the state budget.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the legislation.

The City of Cleveland wants to use 500,000 cubic yards of fill from a confined disposal facility north of Burke Lakefront Airport to create an industrial park in the Cuyahoga River valley. Moving the dirt would also create more capacity for dredge material at the dike, which is running out of space.

Officials with the Cleveland Play House and the Cleveland Clinic confirmed that they are negotiating a sale of the Play House property at East 85th Street. The Plain Dealer reported that the price will be around $13 million to $15 million.

Update: Tony Brown and Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer discussed the anticipated sale.

The Stanford Homes development in Old Brooklyn is being deconstructed. Construction of the six-house project on Stanford Avenue began in 2005, but was never completed.

Earlier in the decade, Philadelphia was listed alongside Cleveland as a former gateway for immigration, but it recently has re-emerged as a destination for immigrants. The Plain Dealer looked at the turnaround in Philadelphia and compared the situations in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Anne O'Callaghan, founder of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, led a discussion about immigration at the City Club today.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland "needs a talent-attraction strategy that sees immigration as one of its cornerstones." Audio of O'Callaghan's talk (MP3, 58.0 MB) is now available.

The Ohio Nowcast, a system that provides water quality data for area beaches, is operating for the season. Information is available for Edgewater Beach, Huntington Beach, and new for 2009, the Cuyahoga River at Jaite.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the Ohio law that reinstated public hearing requirements for port authorities.

The historic Singletary House in Streetsboro was moved to a new foundation on Tuesday.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the City of Cleveland's lawsuit against 21 large investment banks. The City sued the banks in January 2008, charging that the banks created a public nuisance through their subprime mortgage lending activities. Cleveland has appealed the ruling.

Backers of the Regional Prosperity Initiative continue to promote the concept to area officials, but two Lorain County mayors are concerned that it would not help their communities. Supporters will convene additional meetings in the coming weeks.

Update: WKSU shared more information about the initiative. A Morning Journal editorial calls for more details.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded a $3.2 million loan to the City of Cleveland for environmental cleanup and and public improvements at the Flats east bank site. Work on the project could resume later this year.

Update: developer Scott Wolstein hopes to restart construction within 60 days.

Sean Logan of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Jeff Skelding of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition were the guests on Monday's Sound of Ideas program, where they discussed President Obama's proposal to supply $475 million for Great Lakes restoration efforts. Allegra Cangelosi of the Northeast-Midwest Institute writes that the "Great Lakes Region is ready, willing, and able to turn those dollars into visible improvements".

A proposed 1.5 million-square foot medical trade center in Nashville could provide competition for the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Dallas-based Market Center Management Co. has not yet identified a site for the project. Market Center Management and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. executives both say that opening a facility first is critical. A similar development also has been proposed for New York City.

As the Cuyahoga County Land Bank prepares to launch, Steven Litt looks at the issues and expectations facing the new organization. The Land Bank's board will hold its first meeting on Friday morning.

The Plain Dealer examined the formula that has made downtown Cleveland's East 4th Street a success, calling it "the jewel of Cleveland's entertainment district, boasting a diverse mix of apartments, restaurants and clubs that star top-shelf performers, chefs and themes."

The Western Reserve Studies Symposium's Regionally Speaking conversations resume with a two-part look at the Greater University Circle Initiative.

Sisters of Charity Health System hope to embark on a $75 million upgrade of the St. Vincent Charity Hospital campus in Cleveland. They are also interested in developing a neighborhood plan with Quadrangle neighbors Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College.

The Plain Dealer offers more details about the entries in the EfficientGovNow grant competition. Public voting will begin on July 1.

The 19-member Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee held its first meeting on Friday. The panel includes political, civic, business, and neighborhood representatives.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy announced the completion of the Lake Erie Coastal and Riparian Forest Preserve, a 19.5-acre bird sanctuary in Bratenahl.

Hemingway Development purchased the St. Jude Parish property in Warrensville Heights from the Diocese of Cleveland for $2 million. They plan to redevelop it as Hemingway at Richmond, an office park with a retail component.

The board of the the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officially notified the Army Corps of Engineers that they are interested in moving to new facilities north of East 55th Street.

Solon Planning Director Rob Frankland told City Council that they may have to allow the construction of big box retail developments for the City's shopping centers to remain competitive. Simultaneously, Giant Eagle has begun talking about building a new store at an undisclosed site that is not near Solon's other retail establishments. As part of the master planning process, Frankland suggested enlarging the City's commercial districts. He also said the plan may call for widening Solon Road. The City has posted two sections of the draft master plan (PDFs). Two more special meetings will be held in early June.

A judge temporarily halted the demolition of the former Howard Johnson's hotel near the East Shoreway and East 55th Street.

Willoughby Hills leaders urged the over 100 people who attended a public hearing to organize in opposition to the planned runway extension at Cuyahoga County Airport. A Euclid Sun Journal editorial also opposes the extension.

New age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Ohio's population remained virtually unchanged but continued to grow more diverse. Nationally, minority populations grew again, but more slowly than previously anticipated. The growth rates of Hispanic and Asian populations have started to decline, reflecting the recent drop in immigration levels.

Update: the Plain Dealer posted the figures for Greater Cleveland.

An Ohio House committee approved foreclosure reform legislation yesterday. Among the items in House Bill 3 is a six-month foreclosure moratorium. A provision that would have allowed judges to modify mortgage terms was removed from the bill. Representative Foley of Cleveland, the bill's sponsor, spoke with WTAM about it. The entire House may vote on the legislation next week.

The Ohio EPA approved the Cleveland Clinic's revised plans to build a medical campus on an 88-acre site in Twinsburg. The property includes high-quality wetlands, which will be protected (PDF) by a 37-acre conservation easement. Construction of the hospital has been delayed by the poor economy, and the Clinic has not set a start date.

GreenCityBlueLake and Cleveland Real Estate News have recaps of the "Beyond Foreclosure" event on Monday that featured author Alex Kotlowitz.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported on the apparent early success of the CHUBs installed in the Cuyahoga River's navigation channel and the efforts to obtain delisting for four of the identified environmental impairments in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern.

The plans to build the Medical Mart along downtown Cleveland's Mall B may include the site currently occupied by the Cuyahoga County Administration Building. If the property is not included in the initial plans, it could be part of a subsequent development. However, County leaders estimate that a decision will not be made until 2012 at the earliest.

WCPN reported on green infrastructure initiatives in Northeast Ohio and the way the relate to federal policies and positions.

When it begins work, the new Cuyahoga County land bank will first focus on Cleveland's Slavic Village and Glenville neighborhoods. The Plain Dealer looked at the efforts to reinvigorate Slavic Village with an op-ed by Marie Kittredge of the Slavic Village Development Corporation and a column by Joe Frolik.

Last week, the U.S. EPA announced $111.9 million in grants, of which $5.6 million will be for projects in Ohio. Cuyahoga County received a $1 million grant to conduct brownfields assessments at about 35 sites. The grants were "bolstered by funds" from the federal stimulus bill.

In addition to gathering municipal support for their balanced growth initiative, the Chagrin River Watershed Partners are also seeking an endorsement from the Lake County Commissioners.

The three railroad quiet zones in Brook Park are scheduled to be in service by May 22.

By a vote of 52-42, the Ohio House passed a bill that would give more rights to renters living in foreclosed properties. The bill now heads to the state Senate, and a Plain Dealer editorial urges the Senate to pass it.

While President Obama's budget document revealed few details about his plans to invest $475 million in Great Lakes restoration efforts, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson shared some information about the proposal.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details about the plans.

The Sun Sentinel summarized the recent public meeting at which the draft North Ridgeville Master Plan was presented. Video of the meeting is available at YouTube.

A panel of mayors of inner-ring Cuyahoga County suburbs discussed the impacts of the foreclosure crisis (MP3, 51.6 MB) on their communities at the City Club on Wednesday. County Treasurer Jim Rokakis was the moderator.

The Westlake Historical Society is seeking financial assistance from the City of Westlake for a restoration and expansion of the historic Weston House.

Independence voters yesterday rejected Issue 5, the proposed zoning overlay for downtown Independence. In Twinsburg, all seven zoning issues passed citywide, but it is too early to tell if they also were approved at the ward level. Cleveland.com has a complete list of the Cuyahoga County election results.

Of the 65 projects submitted to the EfficientGovNow grant program last month, 45 met the qualifications to proceed. Expanded abstracts and proposals are now available for reading and comments. Complete proposals must be submitted by May 31.

On Monday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Mayor Jackson of Cleveland signed a letter of intent for the transfer of Public Auditorium and the existing convention center. The County agreed to purchase the downtown facilities from the City for $20 million, $2.5 million more than the Commissioners offered last week. They suggested that the additional dollars should be used to improve downtown's Perk Park. The agreement must be formally approved by the County Commissioners and Cleveland City Council. WTAM posted audio of the press conference, and Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine provided some analysis plus an interview of Commissioner Hagan.

Update: the County Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.

Amtrak proposed a route for 3-C Corridor as part of the study it is conducting for the Ohio Rail Development Commission. The route includes stops in downtown Cleveland and near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, but does not go through Akron or Elyria. The passenger rail study should be completed in August.

Bishop Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese amended the plans to consolidate parishes and close churches. Two west side Cleveland churches that had been slated to close will remain open: St. Colman on West 65th Street and St. Ignatius of Antioch on Lorain Avenue. Meanwhile, the Ohio & Erie Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America will continue its tours of historic Cleveland churches with tours of St. James Cathedral and St. Ignatius of Antioch on May 9.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor Beryl Rothschild of University Heights says that her city would gain "absolutely nothing" from a merger with Cleveland Heights.

The Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force released the final Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Feasibility Study (PDF, 14.2 MB) on Friday. The report prepared by juwi GmbH of Germany recommends building three to eight wind turbines in Lake Erie about three miles from shore. The demonstration wind farm would cost between $78 million and $93 million. NewEnergyNews describes the report as "a tour de force of the technical, environmental, regulatory and financial issues pertaining to offshore wind development."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the "mix of 'green' industrial innovation with a broad public-private research partnership should set Cleveland apart and make the city a go-to destination for wind-energy manufacturers and innovators." Bill Callahan is decidedly less enthusiastic.

On Thursday, a number of waterfront planning experts from around the world participated in two sessions about redesigning the downtown lakefront land currently occupied by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The Port Authority plans to begin relocating to new facilities north of East 55th Street in about 10 years.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake also has a recap of the presentations.

The Finance Committee of Cleveland City Council approved $211,000 in redevelopment funding for the purchase of the Variety Theater on Lorain Avenue. The Friends of the Variety Theater organization has already secured the remainder of the building's $1 million asking price.

Author David Osborne spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the challenges to increasing municipal cooperation.

Update: Mr. Osborne also spoke about government collaborations at the City Club.

Details of President Obama's plans to spend $475 million on Great Lakes restoration activities may be revealed this week. A Plain Dealer editorial says the proposal "offers a welcome lift" for the lakes. Meanwhile, Senators Levin, Voinovich, and six other co-sponsors introduced the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2009, which would increase funding for the cleanup of contaminated sediment to $150 million per year. The House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation.

Goodrich Corporation donated roughly three acres of land in Slavic Village to the city of Cleveland. The property is adjacent to the company's landing gear facility on Marble Avenue and will be used to improve the area around South High School.

The Inglewood Historic District in Cleveland Heights was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 15.

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