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July 2010 Archives

Developer MRN Ltd. has arranged financing for the $44.5 million first phase of the Uptown project in University Circle, and plans to break ground on Monday. Phase one, which includes two buildings with 102 apartments and 56,000 square feet of retail, is scheduled to open in fall 2011.

The State of Ohio awarded a $3.5 million grant to the MidTown Tech Park, a 128,500-square-foot office, laboratory, and research project in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Developers intend to break ground in November for the $22 million development, formerly known as the Euclid Tech Center. The project was one of 14 sites that received grants from the state's Job Ready Sites program.

The U.S. EPA extended the boundaries of the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern to include the 34-acre pool behind the dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. The designation makes the area eligible for federal funding for testing and possible cleanup of contaminated sediment behind the dam.

Ohio Canal Corridor and the Trust for Public Land will purchase 11 acres in the Flats for the planned extension of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland. The $4.8 million purchase will allow the trail to connect to Cleveland's planned Canal Basin Park.

Update: planners anticipate additional acquisitions.

The Cleveland Clinic broke ground for its 135,000 square-foot medical testing laboratory at Carnegie Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland. Construction of the $75 million building should be completed by the end of 2011.

The Natural Resources Defense Council published its 20th annual Testing the Waters report today. The survey of water quality at U.S. beaches ranked Ohio's (PDF) beaches 27th of the 30 states in the survey, an improvement over last year's rank of 29, but still among the nation's worst. Urban runoff and combined sewer overflows contribute to the pollution problems.

The City of Cleveland lost an appeal in its lawsuit against 21 banks and mortgage companies. The City sued the subprime lenders in 2008, charging that their activities led to the foreclosure crisis and created a public nuisance. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the suit in 2009. Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling (PDF), and said that Cleveland failed to prove that the banks were directly responsible for the damage to the neighborhoods. The City plans to appeal.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the city to continue.

Organizers of the Evergreen Cooperatives are preparing to launch their third employee-owned business. The Green City Growers Cooperative will operate a 5½-acre hydroponic greenhouse in Cleveland's Central neighborhood.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial concludes that the "commitment to go from grit to green offers a healthier future not just for neighborhoods but for the local economy."

Cuyahoga County Airport officials dropped their plans to extend a runway and reroute surrounding roads. The alternative recently approved by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners instead calls for modifications within the airport's existing footprint.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information. The Sun Messenger also published details about the plans.

Work on the Chagrin Falls Region Alternate Transportation Study is nearing completion. A final public meeting took place on July 6, and a final stakeholders meeting will be held on August 4.

The planned October groundbreaking for the Medical Mart and convention center in Cleveland may be pushed back to December. Developer MMPI missed two deadlines in June.

Update: a citizens group wants the County Commissioners to postpone the groundbreaking in order to further study the project.

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved $5.5 million for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to complete the purchase of 635 acres of undeveloped land surrounding Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls.

The National Park Service selected Abcon Inc. of Youngstown to build the replacement Tinkers Creek Aqueduct on the Ohio & Erie Canal in Valley View. The $1.8 million project (PDF) will be funded by a federal stimulus grant.

A group of Summit County elected officials is urging property owners to refuse to pay the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's planned impervious surface fee. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia defended the stormwater management program (PDF) and said that the officials were acting irresponsibly.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the issues. The Akron Beacon Journal also published an editorial on the subject.

Update 2: A Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the Summit County officials.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $600,000 in federal stimulus funds for brownfield redevelopment. The Famicos Foundation received $100,000 of the funds to help with asbestos remediation at a building on East Boulevard in Cleveland.

Cleveland hosted a national conference on freshwater wind power earlier this week. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. also held its first public meeting, and said that they hope to announce a developer for the Cleveland pilot project within four weeks.

WKSU took a quick look at the connections between the major investments planned for downtown Cleveland. WTAM aired a week-long series that examined five downtown Cleveland developments.

Moreland Hills Village Council was expected to approve placing modifications of Village's open space conservation zoning classification on the November ballot.

Update: Village Council voted to place the issue on the ballot.

Maingate Business Development Corporation hopes to develop an east side market at East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland. Maingate Market Place is a $30 million proposal that would include a farmers market, restaurants, retail, offices, and warehouse space. Maingate intends to partner with a private developer on the 10-acre project.

The Plain Dealer published more information about the new Ohio City Farm in Cleveland and how it fits into the larger neighborhood market district plan. Channel 5 spoke with some of the recent immigrants working there.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission and the process for developing a new vision for the Mall.

In the first six months of 2010, foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County increased by more than 12%, compared to the same period last year. Levels in Cleveland remained similar, while levels rose in both inner-ring and outer-ring suburbs.

On Monday, the White House released the final recommendations (PDF) of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, and President Obama signed an executive order that established the country's first national oceans policy and created the National Ocean Council. The council includes representatives from a variety of federal agencies, and is intended to strengthen governance and coordination for the stewardship of the oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.

With the annual Burning River Fest starting tomorrow, Ohio Authority looked at the status of the former Coast Guard station at Whiskey Island and some ideas for its reuse.

Channel 3 aired part six of its Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface series. It looked at threats to water quality, actions that residents can take, and cleanup efforts.

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange recently held its third annual conference in Cleveland. More than 80 young leaders from across the region attended to compare notes, network, discuss new ideas, and explore Cleveland. This year's conference focused on rethinking what cities can be. Conference participants shared their reactions, summarized sessions, described site visits, and posted photographs.

Update: Cool Cleveland's Sarah Valek also posted a review.

Update 2: Lorri Meyers of Channelise added her experiences.

As urban agriculture grows in popularity, leaders in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities are considering its role in urban revitalization. An Ohio State University researcher is studying insect populations at community gardens to help inform future land use decisions. Lead contamination can also be an issue in urban soils, but several low-cost techniques can reduce its danger.

The first Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair, held last week, featured designs from Amish manufacturers, small Cleveland-area designers, and Cleveland Institute of Art students. The two-day event was organized as part of the proposed Cleveland District of Design.

The City of Parma is using its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to purchase and demolish an additional 14 houses. The City of Berea has also started demolishing distressed houses.

In addition to the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center under construction near Cleveland State University, RTA would like to build a west side transit center in the Warehouse District. The agency recently issued an RFP for a consultant to prepare a development plan. The project would be part of a transit-oriented development in a portion of the area where developer Bob Stark had earlier proposed to build.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is advancing the second phase of the Ohio Hub Plan. The Commission hired AECOM of Los Angeles to assess potential high-speed passenger rail routes from Cleveland to Detroit and from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, as well as upgrades to the planned 3C Corridor. Sherrod Brown and Policy Matters Ohio recently touted the 3C Corridor as an investment that will promote economic development and create jobs. Earlier this year, the Rail Development Commission released the Ohio Statewide Rail Plan.

Solon Planning Director Rob Frankland continues to work on a new municipal master plan. The latest draft sections to be released include a potential residential to industrial rezoning of land near Solon and Richmond roads.

Last Thursday, MOCA unveiled Farshid Moussavi's designs for the museum's planned University Circle building, and on Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved them. The abstract building's six facets will be clad in black stainless steel and glass. MOCA hopes to break ground by late fall on the $26 million project at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "the new building will allow MOCA to burst out of its shell."

The Premcor Refining Group of San Antonio reached a settlement with the State of Ohio. The company agreed to clean up leaking underground storage tanks at 55 former Clark gas station sites in 26 counties and to pay $4 million in penalties. Nine of the locations (PDF) are in Cuyahoga County.

Cleveland City Council last week voted to renew the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District for a second five-year period. Assessments from the SID fund the Clean and Safe program, among other initiatives. The SID was established in 2005, and the reauthorization covers 2011 to 2015.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial applauds the decision.

The City of Cleveland Heights hired Camiros, Ltd. of Chicago to conduct a sustainability audit of the City's zoning code. The planning firm will review the code and recommend ways to remove obstacles to sustainable development.

Update: a Sun Press editorial says that other communities should consider similar approaches.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland hired Kauser Razvi to develop plans for the proposed Cleveland International Welcome Center in downtown Cleveland.

FEMA awarded a $1.17 million grant to the Village of Valley View to protect houses from Cuyahoga River flooding. Thirteen homeowners are eligible to use the funds from FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program to elevate their houses. The grant will cover 75% of the costs.

The board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland unanimously voted to proceed with construction of a new building in University Circle. A December groundbreaking is planned, and architect Farshid Moussavi's designs for the museum will be unveiled on Thursday. The Gund Foundation recently contributed $2.5 million in grants and loans to the project.

The historic East Ohio Gas Building on East 6th Street in downtown Cleveland will be renovated as offices for the Calfee, Halter & Griswold law firm. The $30 million project includes the construction of a 190-space parking garage on the surface lot behind the 1916 building. The building was purchased at auction for $1.3 million in 2009. Earlier proposals for the building called for redeveloping it as condominiums or a hotel.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis said that the Cuyahoga County Land Bank is "the most effective and comprehensive program in the country to deal with vacant properties due to its entrepreneurial transactional capabilities and funding." Officials in South Euclid are pleased with the Land Bank's recent agreement with HUD. Next American City cited Cleveland's experience with HUD as an example of "the real danger of this newfound culture of thrift and austerity in Washington."

The current issues of the Cleveland Stater includes a series of articles about the evolution of CSU's campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. University President Ronald Berkman also discussed his vision for the campus.

"Facing the Foreclosure Crisis in Greater Cleveland" (PDF, 29.7 MB) is a new report from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. It "spells out what happened here, relating the symptoms and progressive stages of the crisis as it played out across the region" and "points to representative examples of programs developed and implemented locally to address particular aspects of the crisis."

As Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission prepares to meet for the first time, Steven Litt looked at the opportunities and challenges facing the panel.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges commission members to "think big."

The inaugural Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Halle Building. Organizers hope that it will lead to a permanent presence in the proposed Cleveland District of Design.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer urges the Ohio Department of Transportation to gather input about the proposed Innerbelt Bridge multipurpose lane from the competing design-build teams instead of outright rejecting the concept.

Plans for the Twinsburg Fashion Place lifestyle center remain stalled. A representative of the developer said that the project is not dead.

Will Friedman, the new CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, spoke about the future of the port on Sunday's Between the Lines program.

A real estate broker proposed redeveloping the former Ameritrust complex in downtown Cleveland for use as Cuyahoga County government offices. The County Commissioners said that the idea is impractical and intend to continue with plans to sell the buildings.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the commissioners to leave the decision to the new county government that will take office in January.

The City of Seven Hills may create a tax increment financing district to help fund improvements along Broadview Road.

The proposed redesign of the I-77 interchange at Route 82 in Broadview Heights continues to move through federal and state review processes.

The new Fulton Road Bridge in Old Brooklyn opened on Friday. Minor work beneath the structure will continue this summer. The original bridge was built in 1932 and demolished in 2007.

Landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations, who also developed the Public Square redesign concepts, will design the public spaces of the Uptown development in University Circle. At nearby Hazel Road, WXZ Development announced plans to build 60 upscale apartments near the Western Reserve Historical Society and Cleveland Institute of Music.

Huntington National Bank announced plans to invest $100 million in affordable housing developments across Ohio over the next 30 months. The funds are expected to leverage an additional $150 million.

The City of Cleveland is allowing the use of chemical treatments for the ash trees on West 50th Street as an alternative to removing the mature trees threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer.

Brooklyn City Council approved the construction of Memphis Industrial Parkway at Memphis Avenue near the Linndale border. The parkway will open land for development, and construction will run from September 2010 to May 2011.

RTA budget officials expect that fares and service levels will remain unchanged in 2011, but anticipate a $15 million deficit in 2012.

The conversation on today's Sound of Ideas program was about the plans for a Lake Erie wind farm and for encouraging the local wind turbine industry. The guests were Lorry Wagner of LEEDCo, Rebecca Bagley of NorTech, and George Sterzinger of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, who recently wrote an op-ed in which he described how the federal government could support the initiative.

Kent State University named Douglas Steidl as the dean of its College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and Terry Schwarz as director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. She had been serving as its interim director since last fall.

Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins rejected a proposal by the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization to expand its service area to include the Stockyard and Clark-Metro neighborhoods. He instead supports the creation of a new organization to serve the area. The Stockyard Redevelopment Organization will cease operations.

After being criticized for ending a program with the City of Cleveland, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reached an agreement with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. Under the new agreement, the land bank can acquire distressed HUD-owned houses for as little as $100. Officials with the land bank, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, anticipate that they will need to demolish at least 80% of the properties they purchase. Sherrod Brown praised the agreement, calling it "a victory for Cuyahoga County."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial congratulates the land bank on its productive first year.

Issues with traffic signals have prevented the HealthLine from attaining projected travel time efficiencies. The City of Cleveland continues to adjust the traffic signals, but has disconnected the traffic signal priority system.

Update: the buses will be permitted to travel faster than surrounding traffic on Euclid Avenue. The HealthLine also won an Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio.

The City of Shaker Heights and the Village of Highland Hills reached an agreement about the planned intersection reconfiguration that is part of the Warrensville-Van Aken transit oriented development.

The City of South Euclid is continuing its Green Neighborhoods Initiative with the purchase of three additional distressed houses. Using green building techniques, the City will renovate the bungalows on Warrendale, Colony, and Lambert roads.

The Plain Dealer looked at how local government agencies intend to use Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding to reduce bacteria levels at area beaches. Meanwhile, the ODNR Office of Coastal Management awarded $311,835 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants.

As anticipated, the Ohio Department of Transportation told Governor Strickland that including a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland would not be feasible. The agency instead proposed (PDF) replacing the bicycle lanes and sidewalks on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge with barrier-separated multipurpose lanes.

Update: Governor Strickland and Jackson agree with ODOT's conclusions, while backers of the multipurpose lane are continuing their advocacy campaign.

The Kamm's Corners streetscape project in Cleveland has encouraged area property owners to make improvements to their buildings.

After several delays, the new Fulton Road Bridge in Old Brooklyn will open on July 9. It includes four lanes for traffic, with bike lanes and sidewalks on each side. It will be reopened following a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Amish farmers and Burmese immigrants working with Refugee Response began plowing at the Ohio City Farm in Cleveland. Located behind CMHA's Riverview Towers, the nearly six-acre farm will be one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the nation.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake has additional information.

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