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May 2010 Archives

Dan Gilbert would like to build the downtown Cleveland casino in two phases. The first phase, which would open next year, would occupy the first floors of the Higbee Building on Public Square. The second phase would include the construction of a contemporary building along Huron Road near Tower City. It would be finished in mid-2013. The plan to build in phases needs approval from state legislators.

Hemingway Development wants to redevelop the former Warner & Swasey complex at Carnegie Avenue and East 55th Street in Cleveland as offices, labs, and warehousing or manufacturing space. The buildings have been vacant since 1985 and are currently owned by the City of Cleveland. City officials hope to obtain state funding for brownfield remediation at the site.

The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision, and ruled that Cleveland Housing Court cannot conduct trials against negligent landowners in absentia. Judge Raymond Pianka has adopted an alternate strategy.

Update: Next American City examined the implications of the decision.

Representatives of each of the 10 finalists in the EfficientGovNow competition described their projects on the Sound of Ideas this morning. The Mahoning County Land Bank project continues to lead the voting, which concludes on May 31.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial praises the initiative.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that includes a permanent 100% property tax abatement for the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland. The Ohio Senate has not voted on the proposal.

In a 2½-hour meeting today, Drew Carey and Nick Gillespie of the Reason Foundation discussed their libertarian ideas for Cleveland with members of Cleveland City Council. Some Council members characterized the suggestions as overly-simple solutions to complex problems. Council President Martin Sweeney invited them after the release of a Carey-produced online video series earlier this year. Jim Russell believes that Gillespie's arguments are unhelpful.

More than 150 sites were selected to participate in a two-year pilot program for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The interdisciplinary initiative is an effort to establish a national rating system for sustainable landscape design. The projects in Ohio are at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, the West Creek Reservation in Parma, and the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about the Botanical Garden's participation.

Update 2: the Parma Sun Post described the project at the West Creek Reservation.

Susan Condon Love of the Plain Dealer wrote about the City of South Euclid's Green Neighborhoods Initiative and the Wilmington Road bungalow undergoing renovations. The City will unveil the makeover at an open house on June 5 (PDF).

The City of Pepper Pike and Forest City last week agreed to revisions of the development plan for the Pointe at Sterling Lakes. It now calls for 102 units in the residential development, down from the 132 units in an earlier proposal.

GreenCityBlueLake reported on the recent "Rebuilding the Cities that Built America" conference in Youngstown, and the Vindicator summarized Dan Kildee's remarks.

Cleveland State University selected Polaris Real Estate Equities of Cleveland to develop the first phase of its North Campus Neighborhood. The 6.8-acre residential and retail project will include 275 to 300 market-rate apartments along the north side of Chester Avenue, between East 21st and East 24th streets. They may open in summer 2012.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the announcement is "very good news not only for the school, but for anyone who cares about the future of downtown Cleveland."

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District postponed implementation of its new stormwater management program until at least October. The district had intended to impose an impervious surface fee in July, but agreed to the delay because of an ongoing legal challenge.

Update: the Plain Dealer supplied additional information.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation will work with General Electric to build five wind turbines in Lake Erie, about six miles north of downtown Cleveland. The $100 million pilot project would be the first first freshwater wind farm in the U.S. and would have a generating capacity of 20 megawatts. LEEDCo plans to have the turbines, the largest in nation, generating power by the end of 2012. By 2020, they hope to have hundreds in place, generating 1,000 megawatts of power.

Outgoing Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority interim CEO Peter Raskind shared his observations about the port in a Plain Dealer op-ed. He wrote about the port's priorities, finances, and said that the "plan to move the port to East 55th Street was ill conceived and built upon layers of questionable assumptions." Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey believes that Raskind was "throwing out the old regime's troubled ideas so the new guy can start with a clean desk" and "may also be providing cover for the port board."

About 250 people, including Jesse Jackson, attended a rally for public transit funding on Cleveland's Public Square on Saturday. The event was part of a multicity campaign for changes in transit funding policies.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library's Facilities Master Plan provides "background data to support future decisions about capital improvements within the system." Branch libraries may be consolidated, expanded, repaired, or replaced. The plan is open to public comment through June 16.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

The Plain Dealer has more details about the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to grind rumble stripes along the edge lines of state routes.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the sale of the Cleveland convention center to Cuyahoga County and the conceptual designs for the new convention center. City Council still must vote on the agreement. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "city and county officials need to keep momentum going" on the Medical Mart and other major downtown projects.

Kent State University recently opened a canoe and kayak livery on the Cuyahoga River. The livery in Kent is the second on the Cuyahoga, joining Camp Hi in Hiram.

Cuyahoga County reached an agreement to purchase the Sportsman restaurant in Cleveland, the last property needed for the Medical Mart and convention center project. The County and MMPI also announced the selection of Turner Construction Co. as construction manager and URS Corp. as the architect of record. Preliminary renderings by LMN Architects show that views of Lake Erie will be preserved. Project Manager Jeff Appelbaum presented a progress update (PDF) to the County Commissioners.

A new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution looks at the "challenges facing America's distressed older cities," examines the "role and influence of federal policy on these cities" and "offers a set of specific recommendations for how the federal government can help." A second paper by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman focuses on Ohio and suggests changes in state policy.

The landmark Prince Hall Masonic Temple on East 55th Street in Cleveland was heavily damaged in a Wednesday night fire. The cause is under investigation, but arson is suspected. Crews are preparing to demolish the building.

Update: the fire was ruled arson.

As part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's trail management plan update, park staffers and volunteers are exploring potential locations for new trails.

The city councils of Solon and Twinsburg approved a memorandum of understanding that calls for cooperation on business relocations that involve incentives. Officials hope to reach similar agreements with other neighboring communities.

Towpath Trail planners continue to examine the options for the stage in Cleveland between Harvard Road and Steelyard Commons. Cleanup of the Harshaw site threatens to delay construction or force the use of a less desirable route.

This week is Cleveland Bicycle Week, and a variety of events are being held across Greater Cleveland. The Plain Dealer reported on the City of Cleveland's bicycle parking requirements and the plans for the downtown Cleveland bicycle station.

This week's issue of Scene presents a "Beginner's Guide to Dead Zones," a look at five vacant Cuyahoga County landmarks, plus several local examples of successful adaptive reuse.

Northeast Ohio furniture makers will hold the the first Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair at the Halle Building in July. It will serve as a test of the Cleveland District of Design concept.

Downtown Cleveland businesses are working together to compost their food waste, and hope to establish a downtown compost pickup route.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a forward-looking initiative Clevelanders can celebrate."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that incoming Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO William Friedman has many challenges awaiting him.

The City of South Euclid is nearly finished renovating a Wilmington Road house through its Green Neighborhoods Initiative. The bungalow is for sale, with an asking price of $149,000.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation interviewed architect Paul Westlake about the restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Cleveland.

Update: the National Trust also described the monument and the restoration process.

A new multi-state report (PDF) by a coalition of seven organizations examined the lending patterns of four large national banks in seven metropolitan areas. It found that between 2006 and 2008, prime mortgage lending decreased disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. In Cleveland, prime purchase and refinance lending fell by 42.7% in predominately white neighborhoods and 68.5% in minority neighborhoods.

Rock Ventures is investigating the possibility of using the Higbee Building on Public Square in Cleveland for a "phase one" casino. The space is currently occupied by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Positively Cleveland, which have started looking for new office space.

Update: the Plain Dealer likes the idea.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners tentatively approved a purchase agreement for the Cleveland Convention Center. As part of the Medical Mart project, they agreed to pay the City of Cleveland $20 million for the building below Malls B and C and to pay for severing the facility from Public Auditorium. The City will retain ownership of Public Auditorium. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey analyzed the agreement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that the Harshaw Chemical site in Cleveland presents "no unacceptable risk to current or reasonably anticipated future land uses" and that "no further action is necessary". The findings will allow the Towpath Trail extension to pass through the site. The Harshaw Investigative Area 06 Proposed Plan (PDF) is open to public comment through May 26.

The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks continue to discuss a potential 99-year lease of Seneca Golf Course and adjacent land in Broadview Heights.

Backers of the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative recently presented its regional planning and tax-base sharing concepts to local officials at a meeting in Fairview Park. The Initiative was also the subject of a debate in Hudson.

Update: organizers delivered a similar message in Shaker Heights.

Update 2: a Sun News editorial supports the initiative.

The City of Solon will release the final two sections of its master plan this month. Planning Director Robert Frankland began updating the master plan early last year.

Issue 46 failed by 25 votes in Strongsville's Ward 4, according to unofficial election results. Developers will wait for an official tally on the rezoning issue before deciding their next steps.

As of Wednesday, the Mahoning County Land Bank project was leading the voting in the EfficientGovNow program. The 10 competing finalists are promoting their entries to potential voters. In Cuyahoga County, the Sun Press described the solar power project, while the Sun Star Courier wrote about the road salt project.

Officials in Brunswick and Brunswick Hills Township hope to encourage commercial development along the Pearl Road corridor in Medina County. They remain interested in creating a joint economic development district.

The State of Metropolitan America is a new report from the Brookings Institution. It "focuses on the major demographic forces transforming the nation and large metropolitan areas in the 2000s" and says "that our nation faces five 'new realities,' currently redefining the country." It also sorts the country's metropolitan areas into seven categories, placing the Cleveland MSA in the Industrial Core classification, which it describes as "in some ways the most demographically disadvantaged of the metropolitan types." Local leaders and academics expressed concern about the demographic trends.

Update: the News-Herald backs the report's recommendations.

This year's RiverDay will be celebrated on Saturday and will feature a variety of events along the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the Canal Basin District Plan. The plan identifies three trail loops that would connect the planned Canal Basin Park to downtown and other neighborhoods.

The Ohio City Near West Development Corporation plans to attract specialty and independent retailers to the area around the West Side Market, and brand the neighborhood as the Market District.

The Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh Regional Learning Network will hold a conference in Youngstown on May 21. Titled "Rebuilding The Cities That Built America," it will feature workshops, speakers, and other events. Hunter Morrison wrote about the megapolitan area that some call the Tech Belt.

Ideastream's David Kanzeg said that the potential cuts in flights at Cleveland's airline hub provides an "opportunity to reimagine Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as the Midwest's first intermodal passenger transportation hub."

Two state legislators from Greater Cleveland intend to introduce legislation that would make it easier for communities to collaborate on municipal services. The changes would allow the City of South Euclid to contract with the City of Cleveland for trash collection. Cleveland may be able provide the service at a lower cost than a private company.

At the public forum on the redesign of Malls B and C, architect Mark Reddington of LMN Architects and landscape architect Shannon Nichol of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol shared their research and visions for the Mall. More than 100 people attended the event at the Cleveland Public Library.

Update: Doug Bardwell also summarized the forum.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative's tax base sharing proposal has its supporters and detractors. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with a backer and a critic.

The Ohio EPA awarded grants for restoration of stretches of the Chagrin River and Little Cuyahoga River (PDFs). The Geauga Park District received $400,000 and the Lake Metroparks received $349,584 for projects along the Chagrin River, and the City of Akron received $400,000 for work along the Little Cuyahoga River.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal published more information about the project in Summit County and WKSU has more details about the Geauga County work. The Ohio EPA also awarded a $394,000 grant (PDF) to the West Creek Preservation Committee.

The Berea Planning Commission approved plans for a 275-foot wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County fairgrounds. The City's Heritage Architectural Review Board also recently approved the plans. City Council approval is not needed in this instance.

The Chagrin Falls Board of Zoning Appeals approved Spillway LLC's plans to lower a Chagrin River dam as part of its redevelopment of the former Ivex mill. Village Council is expected to vote on the proposal on Monday.

Update: Village Council also approved the plans.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's implementation of Intelligent Transportation System technologies will include traffic cameras and sensors. The $22 million system should be in place along Greater Cleveland highways by October.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced plans to demolish 25 closed or closing school buildings. The list includes South and East high schools as well as seven buildings that are Cleveland landmarks or have pending landmark applications.

Update: Cleveland Area History looked at each of the schools slated for demolition. A Plain Dealer editorial said that it "smells like a tactic to evade an Ohio law requiring districts that sell vacant schools to let charter schools bid first."

Election recap

Fairview Park
Issue 29 (residential rezoning): passed

Solon
Issue 44 (industrial rezoning): passed

Strongsville
Issue 46 (retail rezoning): uncertain; apparently failed

For complete results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

RMS Investment Corp.'s plans for Parmatown Mall include the construction of five freestanding buildings in the parking lot around the mall, and a 10,034-square-foot expansion of its Wal-Mart. The Parma Planning Commission approved a portion of the proposal.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority named William Friedman (PDF) as its new president and CEO. Previously, he worked at the Port of Seattle from 1990 to 2000 and served as the CEO of the Ports of Indiana from 2000 to 2004. Friedman will succeed interim CEO Peter Raskind when he begins on June 1.

Update: the Plain Dealer approves of the Port Authority's choice.

The Cleveland Clinic hired Foster + Partners of London to conduct a 20-year master plan for the Clinic's main campus in Cleveland. The Clinic is also developing plans for two new buildings at its Cleveland campus.

The Veale Foundation donated $20 million to Case Western Reserve University for a new student center. The Tinkham Veale University Center will be built at the corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road.

Marc Lefkowitz describes the Re-Imagining Cleveland process as "a surgical first strike that aims to put vacant properties back into productive use."

Devland Holdings signed a contract to buy Randall Park Mall in North Randall. The company plans to redevelop the mall as a mixed-use project that would include light industry and research and development space.

Public voting in the second round of the EfficientGovNow competition began on Saturday and will continue through May 31. Two of the 10 finalists are projects in Cuyahoga County: a solar power project in Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs, and a road salt collaboration for four south side suburbs.

ODOT District 3 has proposed installing rumble stripes along the edge lines of some state highways (PDF) in the eight-county district that includes Lorain and Medina counties. Bicyclists object to the rumble stripes, saying they would make the roads more dangerous for bicycles.

The City of Euclid began renovating the first of 25 to 30 houses under its Housing Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program, an initiative funded by the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

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