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October 2010 Archives

Living Cities announced that it will provide at least $80 million to five cities, including Cleveland, through its new Integration Initiative. Over the next three years, Living Cities will invest $14.75 million in Cleveland, with much of it supporting new worker-owned cooperatives and initiatives in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Cleveland was named a finalist in April.

Update: guests on The Takeaway talked about the awards.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial praised the initiative.

Local, state, and federal officials unveiled plans to establish an urban agriculture demonstration project in Kinsman. The three-year, $1.1 million Cleveland Urban Agriculture Incubator Pilot Project will start by creating a six-acre farm at East 83rd Street and Gill Avenue. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $740,096 in funding, and the City of Cleveland intends to eventually expand the project to cover 20 acres in the Forgotten Triangle.

Update: the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition supplied more details.

Attendees at a public meeting in Columbus told Ohio Department of Transportation officials that the agency should devote more resources to public transit and alternative transportation. It was the first in a series of workshops that ODOT is holding at various locations. A Cleveland meeting will be held on November 3 at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel. Officials with ODOT District 12 have also been meeting with local transportation activists.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more information about the Cleveland meeting, and ODOT posted its presentation (PDF).

The West Creek Preservation Committee is interested in building a multipurpose trail in Seven Hills and Independence.

Giant Eagle revealed that it is the previously-unidentified company that has proposed building a supermarket in Broadview Heights. Voters will decide a rezoning issue for the property on November 2.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka barred three out-of-state companies from conducting real estate deals in the city. The companies, which own a total of 126 properties in Cleveland, have failed to appear in court, address property violations, and pay taxes or assessments.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial praises Judge Pianka's approach.

A new Warehouse District steering committee and set of working groups are preparing to gather and review ideas for improving the downtown neighborhood.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages people to submit recommendations or volunteer.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hopes to make Cleveland the first Great Lakes city with regular international container service. Port Authority officials are negotiating with a Canadian company to provide weekly container shipping between Cleveland and Montreal. One of its ships visited Cleveland on Friday for a demonstration (PDF).

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Department of Transportation's revised timetable for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line was produced without a detailed analysis or input from freight railroads. Meanwhile, Amtrak ridership in Ohio grew by 14% over the last year, which ODOT says "shows that the demand for transportation choice is on the rise."

The City of Cleveland Heights painted its first shared lane markings along a 1.5-mile stretch of Euclid Heights Boulevard. The sharrows are part of a larger initiative by the Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition. GreenCityBlueLake offers its observations on what the group is doing right.

In the first round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit program, the Ohio Department of Development made $10 million in credits available to four Ohio entities. About half of the credits were awarded to two Cuyahoga County recipients, one affiliated with KeyBank and the other associated with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The credits may be used to support the Allen Theatre renovations and the Evergreen Cooperatives, among other initiatives.

In addition to the two funding announcements made earlier this week, RTA received $4.2 million from the Federal Transportation Administration. The award was part of the $776 million State of Good Repair discretionary grant program. RTA will use its funds to upgrade equipment and facilities at three garages.

The Ohio EPA is reviewing the Village of Kirtland Hills' final plans for restoring an 8,700-foot stretch of the Chagrin River's east branch. The Village has begun work on related stream bank improvements.

The Chagrin Solon Sun urges Moreland Hills residents to approve Issue 88, which would establish an open space conservation zoning classification. It also asks Solon voters to reject Issue 129, a proposal to rezone a property from single-family to two-family residential. The Sun Post-Herald encourages Fairview Park voters to pass Issues 54 and 55, which it describes as "housekeeping items that will correct a zoning oversight".

Under the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states, the old General Motors will commit $773 million for the environmental cleanup of 89 former manufacturing sites. Five plant properties in Ohio will share $39 million: $25.8 million will go to the facility in Moraine, $7.3 million to Elyria, $3 million to Mansfield, $2.6 million to Toledo, and $746,000 to Parma.

The Lakewood Observer summarized bicycle planning efforts in Lakewood, while the City of Lakewood provided a recap of the recent Birdtown/Madison community meeting. On November 9, LakewoodAlive will hold a community forum titled "Bailey Building & Beyond - Downtown Lakewood's Renaissance."

Early this month, Cleveland City Council approved zoning code changes that include adding agriculture as a principal use on all vacant land zoned for residential use. The revised code (PDF) will become effective on November 3.

Research conducted by the Brookings Institution and the Reinvestment Fund examined access to supermarkets in 10 metropolitan areas, including Cleveland. In the Cleveland MSA (PDF), they found that 11.3% of the population lives in areas with poor access to supermarkets. Results of the analysis for the 10 profiled areas and for the entire nation are available at the Reinvestment Fund's PolicyMap.

At a public forum sponsored by Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission, architect Mark Hinshaw of LMN Architects and landscape architect Shannon Nichol of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol presented observations and ideas for the future of public space in downtown Cleveland.

Following the national vacant properties conference held in Cleveland last week, the Detroit Free Press looked to Cleveland for innovative examples of urban revitalization, and MSN Real Estate described Cleveland as a city creatively working to reinvent itself. On Friday, the Center for Community Progress released Restoring Properties, Rebuilding Communities, a new report that encourages those interested in vacant properties to "build a truly effective agenda to turn vacant, abandoned, and problem properties into productive places in our communities, based not on one-off deal-oriented transactions, but on true systemic reform."

The Architect's Newspaper looked at Miguel Rosales' proposed designs for pedestrian bridges in Cleveland at North Coast Harbor, Whiskey Island, and Case Western Reserve University.

Through a program called 21st Century Transit Partnerships for Ohio's Next Generation, the Ohio Department of Transportation will provide $150 million over the next three years to public transit agencies in Ohio. RTA will receive $5.4 million each year, for a total of $16.2 million.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more information.

Homebuilder Pulte Homes began construction of the first five townhouses at the Townes of Pepper Pike at Sterling Lakes. This phase includes a total of 16 units.

The Bainbridge Township trustees say that they would like to cooperate with Aurora leaders to develop a plan for the redevelopment of the 500-acre Geauga Lake site.

Congressional offices have revealed some recipients of TIGER II grants, and the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to officially announce the awards later this week. Sherrod Brown announced that RTA received a $10.5 million grant for the planned reconstruction of the University Circle rapid transit station.

Update: 75 projects in 40 states received funding. The RTA project was the only one in Ohio. An RTA press release offers more details.

While Cleveland Metroparks employees are working to restore natural habitats and reintroduce native species, new Executive Director Brian Zimmerman is helping to guide the park district's strategic planning process. He will speak at the City Club on November 17.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt reviewed the two newest buildings at Cleveland State University, the Student Center and Julka Hall (the College of Education and Human Services building). He said that "both are well-designed; both make strong connections between their interiors and the surrounding city; both are flooded with daylight; and both do a lot to improve the appearance of Euclid Avenue."

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court ruled that neighbors of an abandoned house failed to meet the threshold for receiving financial restitution from the house's owner. He also rejected the City of Cleveland's claim.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages Cleveland City Council to approve changes to the City's urban agriculture ordinance, concluding that it has "the potential to turn Cleveland into a national model for how a city can remake itself as a better place to live, work -- and eat."

Brecksville City Council decided to halt a study of Cuyahoga River flooding issues. Members agreed that the funds should be used for other stormwater projects.

The Strongsville Planning Commission approved plans for phase four of the Woods of Schneider Reserve subdivision at Whitney and Webster roads. Pulte Homes intends to build 35 single-family houses, and may begin construction as early as next month.

Northeast Ohio was one of 45 areas selected for funding through HUD's $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The consortium of 21 entities from 12 counties was awarded $4.25 million to "develop a cooperative regional plan to address housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development for Northeast Ohio." The consortium consists of MPOs, housing authorities, and county and city governments, plus the Levin College of Urban Affairs, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and the Fund for Our Economic Future, which helped to fund and organize the application.

LMN Architects released the latest design concept for the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland. The renderings show a concrete and glass building at the corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue. Members of the Cleveland Design Review Committee and City Planning Commission were generally positive about the designs, and granted them conceptual approval. LMN and landscape architects Gustafston Guthrie Nichol continue to prepare designs for Malls B and C, and want to create a space that can be enjoyed in all seasons.

Cleveland hosted the National Vacant Properties Conference this week, drawing around 900 people. They heard from national experts, including Shaun Donovan, Dan Kildee, and Alex Kotlowitz, as well as local officials and academics. Attendees learned about best practices at more than 40 workshops and sessions, visited sites across Cleveland, and shared their reactions on Twitter.

Update: Marc Lefkowitz summarized day one of the conference. Streetsblog Capitol Hill also has a recap.

Update 2: Marc Lefkowitz provided summaries of the conference's second and third days.

The U.S. EPA awarded $4 million in grants for communities to develop area-wide approaches to brownfield redevelopment. The City of Cleveland was among the 23 recipients, and will use its $175,000 award to facilitate community involvement (PDF) in prioritizing brownfield remediation along the route of the planned Opportunity Corridor in Kinsman and Buckeye.

Joel Ratner, currently the president of the Raymond John Wean Foundation, was named as president and CEO of Neighborhood Progress Inc. He will start on January 3, and will succeed Eric Hodderson, who recently retired.

Update: an NPI press release has more details.

Snavely Development of Chagrin Falls and Concord Hospitality Enterprises of North Carolina plan to built an eight-story, 150-room hotel in University Circle. The $27 million Courtyard by Marriott project is on Cornell Road, near Euclid Avenue and adjacent to the University Hospitals campus. They intend to start construction early next year and open the hotel by fall 2012.

The third issue of Fresh Water includes articles about designs for Cleveland's public spaces, plans to extend the Towpath Trail through Cleveland, and the transplantation of prairie grasses from Mall B to the Morgana Run Trail in Slavic Village.

"Designing a Better Cleveland" is a new booklet written by Steven Litt and published by the Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Public Art. An outgrowth of last year's Lockwood Thompson Dialogues, it's meant to be "a call to action and a mini-primer on the ways in which citizens, developers, planners and designers can raise standards of civic design in Cleveland." Electronic copies (PDF) are available online, and paper copies can be obtained from Cleveland Public Art.

RTA will celebrate the grand opening of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center on October 19. The facility at the corner of East 21st Street and Prospect Avenue is RTA's first downtown Cleveland bus hub.

Update: Channel 5 and Channel 3 reported from the event, and WTAM has pictures of the new facility.

Shaping the State, a new report from Greater Ohio, compares demographic trends in Ohio and the nation from 2000 to 2008. It concludes that "demographic changes in Ohio reveal a state that is falling behind other states in some areas, but demonstrates strong potential in several others."

NOACA conducted counts of bicycle traffic at 17 locations in Cuyahoga County in 2006 and 2010. Over the four-year period, bicycle counts increased by an average of 50%.

Update: Channel 5 reported on the figures.

Update 2: the Plain Dealer published more information.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club are appealing a permit recently issued by the Ohio EPA for the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland. The permit authorizes the FirstEnergy facility to continue discharging mercury into Lake Erie.

Architect Chuck Miller of Doty & Miller makes suggestions for ways that environmentalists and historic preservationists can successfully work together instead of talking past each other.

A Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by one of the losing design-build teams on the Innerbelt Bridge project. The two losing teams are each seeking stipends of up to $1 million offered by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Brookings Institution prepared two analyses of metropolitan poverty. They found rising levels of suburban poverty and growing overall poverty rates in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas. In the five-county Cleveland MSA, the estimated poverty rate increased by 2.6% between 2007 and 2009, rising to 15.3%.

Members of a local group report that they have reached an agreement with the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to purchase the former St. George's Lithuanian Church in Cleveland "to create a local-food centric business development district centered around an 18,000 sq.ft. greenhouse." The effort is modeled on Will Allen's Growing Power project in Milwaukee.

Voters in Broadview Heights will decide a proposed retail rezoning for three parcels on Royalton Road. An undisclosed developer is interested in building a supermarket there. An earlier rezoning issue for the area was approved by voters in November 2008.

Plans for Malls B and C in downtown Cleveland identify a set of guiding principles for open spaces, gardens, promenades, and an urban edge. Mayor Jackson recently extended the new Group Plan Commission's deadline for recommendations, and the Commission will continue to work with architects GGN and LMN.

Plans for the Bike Rack in downtown Cleveland were delayed, and the bicycle station at the Gateway North Garage is currently expected to open early next year.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials presented plans for the Opportunity Corridor (PDF) at six public meetings in Cleveland this week. Residents in Central and Kinsman were skeptical about the project's benefits, while Slavic Village residents expressed mixed opinions.

Meanwhile, the City of Lakewood held its first Bikeway Planning Community Workshop on Tuesday evening. More than 60 people attended. The City plans to hold its next workshop in mid-November.

Update: Lakewood residents who were unable to attend the workshop can still provide input.

Local real estate professionals speculate that American Greetings' exploration of a headquarters relocation may be motivated by the condition of its current facilities more than the income tax issues raised by the company. American Greetings officials say they have not reached a decision and that they will make an announcement this fall.

The City of Cleveland Heights initiated its effort to craft sustainable development regulations, and consultant Camiros Ltd. introduced many of the concepts (PDF) at a recent public meeting. Interested residents can complete a survey (PDF).

The Parma Planning Commission approved expansion plans for the Wal-Mart store at Parmatown Mall. The store will become a supercenter, and the 10,034-square-foot addition will increase its size to 161,840 square feet.

The six candidates for Cuyahoga County executive discussed regional transportation issues at a Cleveland State University forum on Tuesday evening. They expressed different views about priorities and funding.

An article in this week's issue of Scene built upon an article the alt-weekly published in March. It examined land acquisition in the Flats for the planned Towpath Trail and described problems with "a pattern of excessively high property appraisals".

Participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the plans and the costs for addressing combined sewer overflows, both in Greater Cleveland and Akron.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's revised timetable for the planned 3C Corridor has done little to persuade Republican critics of the passenger rail line. Ohio is one of several states where Republicans could block or delay federal plans to expand the nation's passenger rail system. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood presented his reasons for supporting high-speed rail.

The National Resources Inventory, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows that every state lost farmland between 1982 and 2007. Ohio had the second-highest amount of prime agricultural land converted to developed land, losing 585,100 acres from 1982 to 2007.

(via Kaid Benfield)

The Plain Dealer looked to Beale Street in Memphis for lessons that could be applied to Cleveland's Warehouse District. On its editorial pages, Jim Peters of the Responsible Hospitality Institute laid out recommendations he made for the area in 2006, and a group of business owners and residents describe the district as a diverse neighborhood that is more than a collection of bars.

Lakewood City Council's Public Works Committee recently met to discuss the status of freight rail and plans for passenger rail. has a detailed summary of the meeting.

AIA Ohio's 2010 awards included a merit award to Robert Maschke Architects for the bus shelters at the Gordon Arts District in Cleveland. Dru McKeown was dismayed by the declaration, and said that while the structures are handsome, they fail to function as shelters.

As the 2012 centennial of Cleveland's West Side Market approaches, the City's West Side Market Centennial Commission has begun to explore potential changes to the market and its surrounding neighborhood.

Plans for the first phase of the Spillway project in Chagrin Falls have been scaled back. The initial redevelopment of the former Ivex mill is currently slated to include a microbrewery, a restaurant, offices, and some additional retail space.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District officials say they are close to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to address combined sewer overflow problems. Sewer rates would increase substantially, beginning in 2012. The final settlement could be announced by November.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the revised plans for the new convention center in downtown Cleveland.

Here's Looking at Euclid described the recent history and current status of lakefront planning efforts in Euclid.

Update: a second piece further explored the waterfront plans.

A woman from southwest Ohio and a man from New Zealand purchased the Big Dipper roller coaster, sparing the Geauga Lake ride from threatened demolition. They intend to dismantle and store the coaster, and to reassemble it at an undetermined location.

Update: the Aurora Advocate and the Chagrin Valley Times published additional details.

In one of its occasional rescissions, Congress required states to return transportation funds to the Federal Highway Administration. Ohio was one of 30 states to make a disproportionally large cut in funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. While Ohio was required to return 5.8% of its annual apportionment, it cut 33% from its Transportation Enhancement Program.

An Akron Beacon Journal article summarized the recent AMATS study on the proposed relocation of the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Montrose. An editorial says that "the challenge is for communities to examine together the impact of the proposed move."

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