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November 2010 Archives

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to accept an agreement with the U.S. EPA. The agreement covers plans to reduce combined sewer overflows over the next 25 years. Proposed rate increases will not be a part of the vote. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the board to ratify the agreement, using Akron's experience as an example of the alternative.

Update: the Plain Dealer described its projected impacts on sewer rates.

The City of Cleveland may adopt a new tactic for dealing with companies that purchase foreclosed houses in bulk and then neglect them. City officials are considering legal action against the company owners.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial addressed the subject.

Workers have begun removing a Euclid Creek dam at the Cleveland Metroparks' Euclid Creek Reservation in Euclid. Removal of the 6-foot-tall, 40-foot-long concrete dam should be completed by May.

Over the course of five days last week, the Westlake City Schools razed the historic Red Brick school building. The district had planned to demolish it earlier, but was delayed by asbestos abatement.

Update: West Life has details and videos.

Middleburg Heights leaders are considering a proposal to rezone the former C. A. Thomas School property from single-family residential to governmental. The City has offered to purchase the 10-acre site from the Berea City School District.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association will change its name to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. An official announcement is expected in January.

A video prepared for Rock Ventures shows preliminary massings and site plans for the downtown Cleveland casino. It was shared at a recent meeting about the proposal to narrow the Cuyahoga River for the casino and was not intended for public release, which Steven Litt says raises "questions about whether Rock Ventures should be more transparent in the early stages of its thinking about the casino."

Next American City presents the current status of a Neighborhood Progress Incorporated subsidiary's lawsuits against Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank. Scene reports on the City of Cleveland's plans to appeal the latest ruling in its case against 21 banks.

On Tuesday, the Coast Guard broke ground for a new 24,500-square-foot building at North Coast Harbor in Cleveland. When completed in fall 2012, it will replace several smaller World War II-era buildings.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad expects to serve a record-high 180,000 passengers in 2010. Since 2006, the National Park Service has invested close to $9 million in capital improvements for the railroad.

The Kamm's Corners Development Corporation kicked off the the Lorain Infrastructure Plan at a recent brainstorming session. The TLCI-funded project will develop concepts for integrating land use, transportation, and livability for a stretch of Lorain Avenue.

Smart Growth America looked at Ohio's brownfield redevelopment initiatives and their potential to spur economic development. The Ohio EPA declared (PDF) that the City of Cleveland has finished cleanup of a 0.75-acre brownfield site at Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street.

WKSU's Jeff St. Clair interviewed Stan Austin, the superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the Soul of the Community survey and what makes people attached to their cities. Tuesday's program was devoted to a discussion about the future of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Update: Neotropolis also looked at the Soul of the Community survey.

While the future of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's building program is in question, the school board voted to proceed with construction of three new elementary school buildings and to demolish 13 closed elementary schools.

Cleveland leaders are seeking public input on ideas for the downtown Malls at Your Changing Cleveland. The new Cleveland Group Plan Commission will hold a design charette on November 30.

Update: Steven Litt described the process.

The West Creek Conservation Committee wants to purchase a conservation easement for a 37-acre municipally-owned property in Highland Heights. It could become part of an 86-acre greenspace that would also encompass the Dusty Goldenrod Preserve.

On Thursday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a series of agreements for the planned Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland. They include purchase agreements for the properties, a construction agreement, and a lease with MMPI. Steven Litt said that the project has "switched from imagination to reality" and that "the real impact of the project won't be evident until several years after its completion in 2013."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the actions.

A group of out-of-state investors plans to convert the vacant John Hartness Brown Building and an adjacent building into a hotel. The $55 million project on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland would add more than 200 hotel rooms, enclosed parking, and 12,000-13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The state awarded $5.8 million in historic preservation tax credits for the building in 2007.

American Greetings revealed that company officials are considering seven sites for its corporate headquarters. The locations include the current headquarters in Brooklyn, four other suburban Cuyahoga County sites, and two locations in the Chicago area. The company wants to make a decision by the end of February.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorials says that retaining the company should be a priority for Greater Cleveland.

Cleveland's Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee approved conceptual designs for public spaces at the Uptown development in University Circle, including a plaza outside of MOCA's planned building at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road.

CMHA recently celebrated the grand opening of its Heritage View Homes, the redevelopment of the Garden Valley Estates in Cleveland. The first phase of the development along Kinsman Road includes 81 units of public housing (PDF) in 20 townhouse buildings.

At a Thursday meeting, ODOT staffers and local transportation advocates discussed proposed pedestrian and bicycle enhancements to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, a possible alternative to including a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge.

Bloomberg reported on residential demolitions in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities.

Northeast Ohio experienced 15 days with elevated ozone levels in 2010, an increase over recent years. Average ozone levels over the three-year period were an improvement over the previous three-year period for most Northeast Ohio counties, but not enough to meet anticipated new federal standards.

Brian Zimmerman, executive director of the Cleveland Metroparks, spoke at the City Club on Wednesday (MP3, 53.1 MB). He talked about what he has learned in his time in Cleveland and the future of the park district.

As the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority begins its strategic planning process, a consultant prepared an economic impact study. It says that the port directly or indirectly contributes to more than 10,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity (PDF).

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office identified Ohio and Greater Cleveland as being among the areas that have experienced the most bank walkaways. It recommends that federal agencies should require mortgage servicers "to notify borrowers and communities when foreclosures are halted and to obtain updated valuations for selected properties before initiating foreclosure." Sherrod Brown said that the practice exacerbates neighborhood blight.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the report "a welcome first step, but still just a beginning."

Consultants Landrum & Brown are conducting an update of the master plan for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Ten alternatives for improving the airport's concourses were shared at a public workshop on Wednesday evening. Additional public meetings will be held in the first quarter of 2011.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development posted the Randall Park Mall Redevelopment Plan, a document prepared by Larry Finch for the Devland Group.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer and Chris Ronayne of University Circle Incorporated were the guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program. They discussed University Circle's successes, the role of the community development corporation, and ways to improve conditions in surrounding neighborhoods.

A mistake by an Ohio Department of Transportation engineer has delayed the agency's Greater Cleveland launch of Intelligent Transportation System technologies by a month and a half. ODOT now hopes to have the system operating in December.

Update: the first message boards are now operating.

The new Syrian Cultural Garden, under construction in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park, is scheduled to be dedicated in May. The garden was first proposed in 1929, and will be the first Arab-American garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

Euclid City Council approved the acquisition of four lakefront properties from the K&D Group. The City will pay $470,000 for two of the parcels, and the developer is donating the other two properties.

Update: City Council voted to revise the funding process.

Hillcrest Hospital opened its new Jane and Lee Seidman Tower on Wednesday, marking the completion of the hospital's $163 million expansion and renovation project. The new facility adds 72 beds and 180,000 square feet to the hospital in Mayfield Heights.

Parma Heights City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Big Creek Watershed Balanced Growth Plan, a document completed earlier this year by the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.

Update: Parma City Council also passed a resolution of support. The plan recommends preserving an 168-acre greenspace in southern Parma.

Update 2: It also makes recommendations for the Brook Park portion of the watershed.

Avon City Council added two sites to the list of properties the City is seeking to acquire through eminent domain for the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road, bringing the total to 14 properties. Mayor Smith of Avon wants the City to manage construction of the interchange instead of the Ohio Department of Transportation, and a Morning Journal editorial says that state leaders should consider the proposal.

Update: the City reached an agreement to purchase the two properties.

A Plain Dealer editorial said that the idea of international "container service between Montreal and Cleveland merits further study."

The City of Cleveland Heights is using its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to to renovate 12 houses and demolish 12 others. The City of Parma is using its award to demolish more than 20 houses.

The Akron Beacon Journal examined the plans to complete the last miles of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland and the challenges facing its construction.

The Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan was unveiled on Saturday at the Northeast Ohio Local Food Mini-Congress. It includes an analysis of the current state of the local food system and proposes that within 10 years, local production could supply 25% of Northeast Ohio's food needs. The document then offers more than 50 recommendations for meeting that goal. Michael Shuman, one of the plan's authors, will present its findings at the City Club on Tuesday.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake and Crain's Cleveland Business provided more information about the plan, and the City Club posted audio of Michael Shuman's talk (MP3, 52.2 MB).

The Berea Municipal Planning Commission recommended approval of the Berea Master Plan Update. The 80-page document (PDF) was prepared by Reveille of Bowling Green, Ohio.

At the Urbanophile, Aaron Renn used U.S. Census Bureau and IRS data to separate domestic migration statistics into in-migration and out-migration figures. He found that several Midwestern metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland, did not have disproportionally high out-migration rates, but did experience very low in-migration rates.

Meanwhile, Professor David Barnhizer wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that Cleveland needs to make itself more attractive to high-skilled international immigrants. The Knight Foundation and Gallup recently completed the Soul of the Community survey, a three-year study of community attachment in 26 American cities. One of its findings in Akron was that new residents felt more attached to the city than residents who had lived there longer.

The Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation is conducting riparian restoration at two sites along Big Creek's Chevy Branch. In Broadview Heights, the City will hold a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming Elsa Drive Wetland Restoration and Protection Project.

Update: the Sun Star Courier summarized the meeting in Broadview Heights.

Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal, the Plain Dealer, and the Blade urge Congress to fully fund Great Lakes cleanup efforts through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and to pass the Great Lakes Legacy Act. Many of the Great Lakes' congressional advocates will be leaving office in January.

Update: Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer says that the GLRI "is in serious danger of being trimmed after only one year."

Medical Mart Executive Director Dennis Madden and Public Relations Director Dave Johnson discussed the project on WDOK's Cleveland Connection show.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is installing three waste-to-energy incinerators at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cuyahoga Heights. They are expected to go online in 2013.

Update: a waste-to-energy forum will be held on December 1 in Akron. Registration is free.

The $298 million Ahuja Medical Center at the Chagrin Highlands in Beachwood is scheduled to open early next year. The 144-bed facility is the first new hospital complex built in Cuyahoga County in 30 years.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District shared details about its proposed agreement with the U.S. EPA. The documents describe plans to spend $3 billion over 25 years to address combined sewer overflow problems and specify the speed at which sewer rates would rise. Some Clevelanders oppose the agreement. The plans will be presented to the agency's board on November 18, and the board is expected to vote on the plan on December 2.

American Public Media's Marketplace reported on bus rapid transit, using Cleveland's HealthLine as an example. NPR's Talk of the Nation visited Cleveland for a program, and discussed the creative reuse of abandoned properties, among other topics.

St. John Medical Center officials announced a five-year strategic plan for the Westlake campus. The plan calls for investing $100 million in a modernization and expansion of the 29-year-old facility.

Fairlawn leaders are concerned about plans to build new Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in neighboring Copley Township, and may close two roads in an effort to keep the stores in Fairlawn. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart recently completed a 46,000-square-foot expansion of its Macedonia store, and Giant Eagle hopes to build a 14,184-square-foot expansion of its Brunswick store.

Following voter approval of a zoning change for a proposed Giant Eagle store, officials in Broadview Heights have begun reviewing plans for the supermarket. It is expected to be 84,000 square feet and will include a gas station.

The former Joseph & Feiss building on West 53rd Street in Cleveland was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 28.

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures proposed narrowing the Cuyahoga River at Collision Bend behind Tower City Center in order to create additional room for parking and to provide a buffer for the planned downtown Cleveland casino. Alterations to the federal navigation channel require an act of Congress. Rock Ventures intends to break ground for the casino next year.

John Kasich formally asked Ted Strickland to cancel planning studies for the 3C Corridor passenger rail line, but Governor Strickland declined the request. Governor-elect Kasich wants to use the state's $400 million in federal rail funding for other purposes, but U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood replied that the funds must be used for passenger rail or they will go to another state.

Update: passenger rail advocates and opponents discussed the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas, while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial addressed the attitudes of the governor-elect and other critics.

Downtown Cleveland stakeholders are developing a concept for rebranding and promoting downtown's financial district, possibly under the NineTwelve District moniker.

Update: a Plain Dealer article explores the concept in more depth.

A new report from the National Housing Law Project highlights five Neighborhood Stabilization Program grantees that "used innovative strategies to meet their obligations to provide housing for very low-income families." It profiles programs in Cleveland, Knoxville, Phoenix, Greenville County, South Carolina and Hamilton County, Ohio.

(via ReBuild Ohio)

Monday's Plain Dealer looked at how the Playhouse Square Foundation uses its real estate holdings to support its performing arts mission. The nonprofit owns about 1 million square feet of real estate, and manages other buildings across the region. Managers plan to add the former Woolworth store at 1317 Euclid and the Middough Building to their portfolio.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that "such promising ventures carry the sweet smell of success for downtown Cleveland and the foundation."

Update 2: the Plain Dealer's Tony Brown described the plans for the Middough Building.

The City of Avon has been unable to reach purchase agreements with the owners of 12 properties needed for the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. Avon City Council yesterday voted to begin the eminent domain process for acquiring the land.

Update: the Sun Sentinel and the Press of Avon Lake have more details.

Mayor Akers of Pepper Pike recently spoke in Shaker Heights about the Regional Prosperity Initiative. He described it as "connecting existing systems of collaboration."

Cuyahoga County officials now expect to break ground in early January for the Medical Mart project in downtown Cleveland. The County Commissioners had hoped to begin construction in late October.

In his first press conference after the election, John Kasich said, "Passenger rail is not in Ohio's future." He later said that Governor Strickland should halt planning studies for the 3C Corridor. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt wrote an open letter to Governor-elect Kasich, asking him to reconsider his stance against the 3C Corridor and to support a robust multimodal transportation network. Many of the 120 attendees at the Ohio Department of Transportation's public meeting in Cleveland also want the state to better support transportation choice.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board published its draft recommendations for implementing (PDF, 17.3 MB) the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house at the Bay Village Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on November 19, and will submit the final recommendations by December 15. The Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club has issues with the recommendations.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan described the federal Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and its recent $4.25 million grant for regional planning in Northeast Ohio. Columnist Neal Peirce highlighted the Northeast Ohio award and said that the grant program shows how federal government can be made more efficient and effective through cross-department collaborations.

At the annual Real Estate Deal Maker Forum, local employees of URS Corporation rated sections of Cleveland and made suggestions for improving the city.

Researchers at the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities.are studying the impacts of foreclosures on residents who remained in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. Their work will focus on Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway and Hough neighborhoods.

Cleveland's Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee approved the design for the planned Courtyard by Marriott hotel in University Circle, but members said that design needs more work.

The Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners were expected to approve a 99-year lease of Seneca Golf Course and the adjoining Tree Farm site from the City of Cleveland. The agreement calls for the Metroparks to make $4 million in improvements in the next five years to the property in Brecksville and Broadview Heights. Cleveland City Council approved the agreement in June.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is holding a series of public meetings to explain its plans to address combined sewer overflow problems and the associated rate increases. The first meeting was held on Thursday in South Euclid, and NEORSD tweeted updates from the event. The program, dubbed Project Clean Lake, is facing opposition from Summit County officials. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "regional approach makes the most sense."

The unsuccessful Innerbelt Bridge design-build team of Trumbull-Great Lakes-Ruhlin refiled its lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Transportation. There was disagreement within ODOT over whether the selected proposal met the agency's design requirements.

Election recap

Bay Village
Issue 13 (attached housing): passed

Brecksville
Issue 30 (accessory structures): passed

Broadview Heights
Issue 37 (retail rezoning): passed

Fairview Park
Issues 54 & 55 (residential rezonings): passed

Mayfield Village
Issues 84 & 86 (referendum zoning changes): failed

Moreland Hills
Issue 88 (open space zoning): passed

Solon
Issue 129 (residential rezoning): failed

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

On Tuesday, the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland unanimously voted to proceed with construction of its new building at Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road in University Circle. MOCA plans to break ground in December. The $26.7 million project is fully funded.

The new leaders of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland Metroparks appeared on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program. CVNP Superintendent Stan Austin and Metroparks Director Brian Zimmerman spoke about the future of the parks.

South African developer Neill Bernstein elaborated on his plans for Devland City, his proposed redevelopment of Randall Park Mall. The closed North Randall shopping mall would become a mixed-use facility for offices, manufacturing, distribution, and events, but not retail. He is scheduled to acquire the mall and two of its anchors in December, and he intends to use it as a model for redeveloping other malls across the country.

Work on the downtown Cleveland bike station is underway. The facility at the Gateway North Garage is scheduled to open in the spring, and will include public art by Scott Stibich and Mark A. Reigelman II.

Tim Donovan of Ohio Canal Corridor spoke at the City Club last week (MP3, 54.1 MB) about the Ohio & Erie Canalway and the Towpath Trail.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is expected to accept a $3 million state loan to improve rail access to the Port of Cleveland. The loan could become a grant if the Port Authority meets several conditions.

Update: the loan could be approved in December.

The Ohio Department of Transportation may build noise walls along the portion of I-90 on Cleveland's west side, and recently held a meeting to hear from the public.

Bluestone Business Park (PDF) in Euclid was one of three properties certified by the Ohio Department of Development for industrial site improvements through the Ohio Job Ready Sites Program. The redevelopment of the 80-acre former PMX property received a Jobs Ready Sites grant in 2008.

The first citizen members of Moreland Hills' new Green Commission were sworn in at a September Village Council meeting. The Commission's objective is to "improve the quality of life and protect the fragile ecosystem (PDF) of the Village of Moreland Hills."

Consultants from JJR presented the latest plans for lakefront development in Euclid to City Council's Growth, Planning and Development Committee. The Committee also recommended accepting three grants for lakefront projects.

The Ohio EPA declared that brownfield cleanup has been completed at a site on Euclid Avenue (PDF) in Cleveland and at Cedar Center in South Euclid. The agency is also considering an expansion of the Urban Setting Designation in Cleveland (PDF) to cover the entire city. The designation (PDF) would would reduce groundwater cleanup requirements in the brownfield remediation process.

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