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The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that the air quality in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities has improved, but that pollution levels remain dangerously high. Greater Cleveland was ranked as having the country's 19th-worst year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year. Cuyahoga County again received failing grades for its its levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

The Cleveland Clinic's Solon Family Health Center is one of 14 buildings across the country competing in the U.S. EPA's National Building Competition. The participants will work to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, and the winner will be the one with the greatest reduction in wasted energy.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

Cuyahoga County and MMPI hired Seattle landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol for the Medical Mart project in downtown Cleveland. They also named 10 local companies to the design team, plus Cleveland Public Art and ParkWorks. The firms join LMN Architects, the conceptual architects.

About 62% of Cleveland households mailed back their 2010 Census forms, and the statewide return rate was 76%. Both figures were slightly below 2000 levels. The national response rate was 72%. Census takers will start visiting nonrespondents on May 1.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese will sell more than 50 closed churches, and placed 17 of them on the market. The properties in Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Summit counties have a total asking price of $11.8 million.

Grant Deming's Forest Hill Allotment Historic District in Cleveland Heights was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 13. It is the seventh and largest historic district in the City.

Update: the Sun Press published additional details.

Little has happened at Solar Shopping Center since Solon voters approved a rezoning in November. A Giant Eagle spokesman said that "the future of the site remains unclear".

On Tuesday, Jeff Heinen, Mary K. Holmes, and Doug Katz participated in a discussion about local food systems at the City Club (MP3, 53.0 MB).

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures has pushed back the opening date of the planned Cleveland casino, and now predicts its completion in mid-2013. The company portrayed the land acquisition process as complex, but cordial.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the delay is understandable, while Dan Gilbert characterized the report as misleading.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's new headquarters building is under construction at East 80th Street and Kinsman Avenue in Cleveland's Forgotten Triangle. The offices are scheduled to open in summer 2011.

The State of Ohio approved $30 million in stimulus bonds for the Medical Mart and convention center project in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County will use the bonds to reduce its borrowing costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cleveland City Council voted to proceed with a plan to provide free wireless Internet access for the Old Brooklyn area. The City anticipates spending $900,000 over the next three years to build and maintain the network.

The final report (PDF) of the American Institute of Architects' Sustainable Design Assessment Team for Parma makes a variety of recommendations that cover topics including land use, economic development, historic preservation, and transportation. The report is the result of work conducted in 2008. Related documents are available from the AIA.

Steven Litt believes that the Ohio Department of Transportation's process for designing the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland will likely lead to an uninspired bridge, saying that "the prospects for outstanding design are looking downright slim."

On Friday, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis spoke at the City Club about foreclosure problems in Greater Cleveland (MP3, 52.5 MB) and the ways that the Cuyahoga County Land Bank is addressing the issues.

The West Park Shopper Shuttle began one day per week service today. It is RTA's second Weekly Shopper Service route, and is operating under a one-year agreement between RTA and the City of Cleveland.

A free public forum on the future of Cleveland's historic Mall will be held on May 6 at the Louis Stokes Wing of the CPL's Main Library.

The Ohio EPA approved plans by the Village of Kirtland Hills to restore an altered portion of the Chagrin River's east branch. Work is scheduled to begin in August.

Citing a need to focus on budget issues, the Village of Pepper Pike withdrew from further study of regional cooperation with neighboring Moreland Hills and Orange. Mayor Renda of Moreland Hills and Mayor Mulcahy of Orange said that the decision puts collaboration plans on hold.

Update: the communities shelved the regionalism study.

Chagrin Falls officials and consultants with Behnke Associates have begun work on the alternative transportation study for a group of Chagrin Valley communities. The first public meeting will be held on Tuesday evening.

Issue 46 in Strongsville is a proposal to rezone portions of a 1.4-acre site at the southeastern corner of Royalton and Prospect roads from residential to retail. Heritage Development Company wants to build a 25,000-square-foot drug store and a 25,000-square-foot strip mall on the wooded property.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission recently adopted a complete streets policy. Plans for roadway projects that receive funding through the Columbus-area MPO now must consider all potential users. NOACA does not yet have a similar policy.

Ed FitzGerald, the mayor of Lakewood and a candidate for Cuyahoga County Executive, proposed establishing a county Office of Regional Collaboration. It would have a cabinet-level director and would encourage collaboration (PDF) within the county and the region.

After being rejected by the City of Middleburg Heights, Cuyahoga County officials have proposed moving their $2 million wind turbine project to the Berea side of the county fairgrounds.

Update: Berea's Heritage Architectural Review Board discussed the proposal.

There are now 27 proposals for governmental collaborations in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. The Fund for Our Economic Future will announce the finalists on April 30 and public voting will begin on May 1.

The state Controlling Board voted to accept federal funding for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line. The 4-3 party-line vote will allow the state to proceed with $25 million in engineering and environmental studies. The Columbus Dispatch liveblogged the meeting. Republican support likely will be needed for future expenditures.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority narrowed its list of CEO candidates to three: Diane Downing, William Friedman, and James Weakley (PDFs). The Port Authority's board expects to make a selection by May.

Update: the Plain Dealer is impressed with the finalists.

The board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland will ask Westlake Reed Leskosky to produce final construction drawings for its planned University Circle building. The board will vote again on June 15, and may then reveal Farshid Moussavi's concept for the museum. A November groundbreaking is possible.

The new Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor is an effort to redevelop Euclid Avenue in Cleveland by leveraging the area's strengths in the biomedical, health care, and high-tech industries.

The U.S. EPA today announced $78.9 million in brownfields grants to communities in 40 states. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank received a $400,000 grant to conduct brownfield assessments.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information.

Avon City Council may soon approve the proposed tax increment financing district for the area around the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road.

Fairhill Partners continues to raise funds for its planned Kinship Village, which would offer 29 kinship care residences at its Cleveland campus.

Cleveland City Planning Commission Chairman Anthony Coyne wrote a defense of Burke Lakefront Airport, listing the reasons why he believes it should be maintained as an active airport.

The Ohio Inspector General's Office has "serious concerns about the payment of the $1 million stipends (PDF) to unsuccessful bidders on the Inner Belt Bridge project," and said that the "stipends would constitute an unjustified expenditure of public funds." Ohio Department of Transportation officials said that the agency will follow the recommendations for future projects.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

Marc Lefkowitz described the latest happenings in the Re-Imagining Cleveland process and the growth of a new green movement in Cuyahoga County.

The Strickland administration is seeking approval from the state controlling board of $25 million in planning work for the 3C Corridor passenger rail line. Ohio Department of Transportation officials now say that a supermajority vote is not needed, which would sidestep Republican opposition to the plans.

Update: the maneuver has political risks.

Stormwater runoff from developments surrounding the Cleveland Metroparks creates extensive erosion problems within the reservations.

A recent trip to Indianapolis prompted Steven Litt to consider lessons that Cleveland could learn from its Midwestern neighbor.

Preliminary tests of the sediment behind the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park found moderate contamination but no major toxic issues. The U.S. EPA wants to collect more samples.

By June, parking lots and garages in Cleveland must offer spaces for bicycle parking. The deadline was specified in the City's 2008 bicycle parking ordinance.

The City of Shaker Heights will plant an orchard on a vacant lot at the corner of Avalon and Kenyon roads. It is one of five properties where the City is using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars to make greenspace improvements where houses used to stand.

In a letter to Governor Strickland, a top administrator with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that his office will be forced to stop dredging the Port of Cleveland and Cuyahoga River in five years unless a new confined disposal facility is built. Also available is the final report (PDF) from the dredging summit held in February. The Cleveland Dredge Task Force will hold its next meeting on May 5.

Update: Save Our Shore posted a copy of the letter.

The Ohio EPA announced that two local brownfield sites have completed the state's Voluntary Action Program and are ready for redevelopment. The properties are a 2.78-acre site on Cedar Avenue in Cleveland (PDF) and a 16-acre site on Northfield Road in Warrensville Heights (PDF).

Developer MRN Ltd. has secured financing for the $44 million first phase of the mixed-use Uptown development in University Circle, and hopes to break ground this summer. Architect Stanley Saitowitz created conceptual designs for apartments over retail along both sides of Euclid Avenue, and presented them to the Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee. The committee unanimously approved the plans, but criticized the presentation for lacking detail.

Update: the Cleveland City Planning Commission also unanimously approved the designs.

The first public meeting for the Clifton Boulevard Transportation Enhancement Program took place on Wednesday in Lakewood. The stimulus-funded project's process will refine streetscape enhancement concepts first identified in a 2006 plan (PDF, 28.7 MB). One attendee shared her reactions.

Update: the City of Lakewood summarized the event and the Sun Post Herald published a report.

On Wednesday, Governor Strickland signed Substitute House Bill 313, the county land bank bill. A 2009 law established the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and the new legislation will allow up to 41 additional counties to create and operate land banks. It will take effect in 90 days.

An unidentified suitor submitted an offer to purchase the 160-acre Acacia County Club property in Lyndhurst. The club's shareholders will discuss the proposal.

Update: there are three parties interested in buying the club.

A new community development corporation may be created to serve residents in Cleveland's Clark-Metro and Stockyard neighborhoods.

Backers of a proposed Cleveland international welcome center are developing strategies for attracting international immigrants to the area.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's leaders must support the concept. Participants on Channel 3's Between the Lines also discussed the subject.

On Friday, the Cleveland Coalition will hold the second event in its series on the planned Cleveland casino, a charrette at the Levin College of Urban Affairs. The event is free and open to the public, but participants should register and review an information packet.

The planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line will require subsidies, but estimates of the costs vary. Critics of the line have focused on its projected 39 mph average speed, and Republicans on the state controlling board may block the plans. Former Ohio Rail Development Commission director James Seney is dismayed.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is gathering feedback from local communities on the draft guidelines for its stormwater management program.

Update: NEORSD posted the draft stormwater fee credit policy manual.

Developer Pirhl purchased a property near the intersection of Chagrin Boulevard and Lee Road in Shaker Heights for its planned Library Court senior housing development. The company intends to break ground on the 44-unit project in May.

A real estate consultant told Broadview Heights officials that the area around Route 82 and Broadview Road should be developed as a community-scale retail center.

Activist and consultant Majora Carter spoke at a City Club in the City event on Tuesday. She told the audience at St. James AME Church about environmental justice and stories of her experiences in the South Bronx. Audio of her talk (MP3, 52.1 MB) is available.

Cleveland City Council's City Planning Committee approved an agreement for the planned Croatian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. A spring groundbreaking is possible.

The Berea Municipal Planning Commission approved the West Bagley Road Commercial District, a new zoning classification. The district's permitted uses include office, retail, and adult-oriented businesses.

Update: Berea City Council also approved the rezoning.

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