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January 2011 Archives

The Plain Dealer explored the changes coming to the Flats and the more than $2 billion of development planned for the area. Cleveland Councilman Cimperman assembled an advisory group, and they met for the first time today. The groundbreaking ceremony for the aquarium at the Powerhouse will be held on Wednesday. The future of the district may not include the Flats Oxbow Association.

Update: the aquarium groundbreaking was postponed due to weather conditions.

Cleveland City Council declined to adopt a complete streets policy. Marc Lefkowitz looked at the issues and offered a response.

The General Services Administration unveiled the design of the new facade for the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building in downtown Cleveland. The new aluminum and glass skin, designed by architect Charles Young of Interactive Design Eight Architects in Chicago, is expected to reduce the building's annual energy costs by 17%. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt said that the "project could be a bellwether for skylines across the country, especially for skyscrapers that fall somewhere below the level of landmarks worthy of preservation in pristine condition." Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune said that the "building stands to be transformed from a muscle-bound but middling work of mid-20th Century modernism into something delicate, diaphanous and endearing to the passerby."

Ohio Authority's Jonathan Sin-Jin Satayathum interviewed Michele Kilroy of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the United States Green Building Council about sustainable development initiatives in Greater Cleveland.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program also discussed green building in Northeast Ohio.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center prepared an analysis of the occupancy codes of communities (PDF) in six Greater Cleveland counties. The report "examines limits on the total number and configuration of residents allowed in dwellings" and its data was "collected to make the varied requirements easily referenced and comparable."

Brownfields news:

On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. Tony Yankel of the Ohio Lakefront Group recently urged new Attorney General DeWine to withdraw from the lawsuit.

Update: multiple media outlets reported on the oral arguments. The Ohio Channel has video of the arguments.

Civic Economics and the American Booksellers Association issued the Indie City Index, a comparison of the strength of independent retailers by metropolitan area. It assigned a score to each metropolitan area in the United States. Of the 363 metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA was ranked 356th, earning the lowest score among metropolitan areas with populations between 1 and 3 million.

Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson explained why he does not support the Regional Prosperity Initiative to Dan Moulthrop of the Civic Commons. On Thursday, the Levin College Forum will host discussions about regional collaboration.

Update: participants on Thursday Sound of Ideas program also talked about regional planning.

Update 2: Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder addressed attendees at the CSU forum, and Dan Moulthrop spoke with Richfield Mayor Mike Lyons, one of the event's panelists.

Update 3: the Levin College Forum posted a summary of the event, and the Civic Commons radio show addressed the subject (MP3, 16.3 MB).

The Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday. At the meeting, County Executive FitzGerald announced more than $1 million in loans for three development projects.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial offers the Commission some advice.

On the one-year anniversary of the house explosion on West 83rd Street in Cleveland, Councilman Matt Zone and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization are raising funds to build new homes to replace the condemned and razed houses.

In May 2009, the Lakewood Board of Building Standards ruled that five neglected buildings required either rehabilitation or demolition. LoveLakewood.com observed the results.

Solon City Council appointed members to the Master Plan Citizens Commission. The 10-member panel will review the master plan adopted in October and make recommendations regarding its goals.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will build a passive house on its grounds as part of the Climate Change exhibit coming to the museum this summer. The energy-efficient SmartHome Cleveland will be built without a furnace, and will be moved to a permanent site on Wade Park Avenue in September.

The Fairview Park Planning and Design Commission recommended rezoning the former Garnett Elementary School property for a proposed skilled nursing and assisted living complex. City Council may place the rezoning on the May ballot.

The Ohio Water Development Authority and the Ohio Department of Development are launching two loan programs, the Brownfield Loan Program and the Alternative Stormwater Infrastructure Loan Program.

Update: Joe Koncelik described the brownfield loan program.

The Olmsted Joint Economic Development District revealed plans for the 385-acre Stearns Crossing Business Park in Olmsted Township. The first phase includes more than 250 acres near Stearns and Bagley roads.

Nepali refugees from Bhutan are settling in Cleveland Heights and South Euclid. The Northeast Ohio community may eventually exceed 1,000 people.

The Texas Transportation Institute published the 2010 Urban Mobility Report, which states that traffic congestion in 2009 began to rise as the economy improved. Drivers in Greater Cleveland (PDF) continued to experience one of the lowest average delay times of the nation's large urban areas. CEOs for Cities issued a critique of earlier reports' methodologies in September, and said that the 2010 report "continues to present an exaggerated and incorrect picture" of urban transportation issues.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the report.

Cleveland's Downtown Design Review Committee approved the latest plans for the Medical Mart. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt said that the designs need more refinement.

Update: committee members want more information about the Mall designs before approving that portion of the plans.

Update 2: the Cleveland City Planning Commission also approved the Medical Mart and convention center plans, but not the plans for the Mall.

The newly-established Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission will meet for the first time on January 25. Seven of its nine seats have been filled. At the state level, Governor Kasich revealed more details about his plans to privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobsOhio development corporation.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal says that Governor Kasich should be alert to the hazards of privatization. The Cincinnati Enquirer interviewed Mark Kvamme, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Update 2: legislation introduced in the Ohio House to create JobsOhio would allow the development corporation to operate in private. An amendment would give the Ohio inspector general the ability to investigate the corporation.

New Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray named the agency's 12 new district deputy directors. The District 12 Deputy Director is Myron Pakush.

With the help of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Village of Chagrin Falls acquired 9.9 acres of greenspace near Whitesburg Park. The land was formerly owned by the Spillway developers, and will be used for passive recreation.

On Wednesday, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority approved plans to expand rail service at the Port of Cleveland. The work should be completed this year (PDF).

Local officials and developers are encouraging Ohio legislators to renew the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The Ohio Department of Development's Urban Development Division is currently accepting applications for its sixth round, but will award credits only if the program is reauthorized.

Channel 3 looked at the renovations underway at the Tudor Arms building in University Circle. It is scheduled to reopen in March as a 157-room Doubletree Hotel.

Local, state, and MMPI officials participated in today's ceremonial groundbreaking for the Medical Mart and convention center in downtown Cleveland. They announced the Medical Mart's first 57 tenants and 31 conferences, conventions, and trade shows. The lists include many local companies. Construction at the site started on January 3, and the facilities are scheduled to open in fall 2013. Positively Cleveland posted video and photographs of the event, and MMPI has a live construction webcam.

Update: Cleveland Magazine and the Plain Dealer scrutinized the list of tenants, and a Plain Dealer editorial said that the groundbreaking was "a milestone to celebrate."

The General Services Administration plans to replace the roof of the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building in downtown Cleveland and to wrap the entire building with a new glass facade. Steven Litt described the work as "a fascinating case in which government is trying to balance two positive goals: historic preservation and energy conservation." The $121 million project is being funded by the federal stimulus program.

Changing Gears looked at the West Shoreway reconfiguration plans in Cleveland and other freeway removal projects across the United States.

Leaders in Brook Park are considering the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. Highland Heights City Council has also been pondering the proposal.

Update: Brook Park officials continue to discuss the proposal.

Developer Randy Kertesz intends to request another extension for his stalled Lakes of Orange subdivision at Miles and Brainard roads. He plans to obtain green building certification for the project's 156 proposed units.

Decades of road salt usage has changed the habitat of Northeast Ohio roadsides, creating areas where invasive halophytes can thrive. Stream and groundwater contamination is also a concern.

The Greater Cleveland RTA is seeking public input on Re: imagine RTA, its 2010-2020 strategic plan, and will hold a community meeting on January 13 at its offices on West 6th Street. The agency is also conducting a survey. Officials in Lorain County and the the Morning Journal encourage Lorain County residents to participate.

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability founder and president Holly Harlan announced that she will step down on February 15 in order to "have more time to explore new opportunities to create prosperity and improved quality of life for all." Mike Dungan will serve as interim executive director.

Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald's latest appointments include Ed Jerse as Regional Collaboration Director and Nathan Kelly as Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development.

Update: in addition, FitzGerald named former ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Bonnie Teeuwen as the County's first public works director.

South Euclid City Council referred the proposed rezoning for the Oakwood Commons development to the City's Planning Commission. Residents at the City Council meeting expressed their objections to the proposed big box retail. Community Services Director Keith Benjamin believes the area can support additional stores, and Ward 4 Councilwoman Jane Goodman supports the project. Oakwood Club leaders are satisfied with the sale to First Interstate Properties.

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of the issues. Fresh Water asked if the area can support more retail, while a Sun Messenger editorial backed the proposed development.

At a public meeting on Monday, consultants from Camiros, Ltd. presented their sustainability audit (PDF) of the Cleveland Heights zoning code. It recommends changes intended to "reinforce the community's commitment to sustainability."

Update: the Sun Press also summarized the meeting.

Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy ranked 50 major U.S. cities (PDF) by their vulnerability to climate change. He found that Cleveland was least likely to experience negative repercussions, while Miami was the most vulnerable.

The purchasers of the landmark Big Dipper roller coaster indicated in December that there were issues with the sale, and now say that problems with the transfer of ownership have led them to walk away from the transaction.

Update: the Aurora Advocate has more information.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved lighting, colors, surface textures, and other aesthetic details for the planned new Innerbelt Bridge. The presentation is available online (PDF). Last month Steven Litt called it "a depressing coda to a 10-year design process in which ODOT wasted numerous opportunities, ran down the clock and ended up with a mediocre concept for a bridge".

Update: ODOT issued a press release.

The Coral Company is resuming construction of homes at its Westhampton at Crocker Park development in Westlake. Other local residential developers have also revived stalled projects.

Update: the Coral Company anticipates completing the 125-unit Westhampton development in four to five years.

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded $2.2 million through its 21st Century Transit Partnerships for Ohio's Next Generation program to RTA to create and operate new services for one year. RTA will use the funds for several new routes.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information.

California venture capitalist Mark Kvamme will lead the Ohio Department of Development for John Kasich. The Governor-elect intends to dismantle the department, replacing it with the privatized JobsOhio development corporation. Kasich said he hopes it will be a "four- or five-month job".

Update: the Columbus Dispatch published more details. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the privatization of the department, while the Akron Beacon Journal is more cautious.

In his last official act as governor, Ted Strickland signed a lease option that grants LEEDCo the right to conduct tests and pursue a submerged lands lease within a two-square-mile area of Lake Erie for the planned wind farm pilot project.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald appointed Dorothy Baunach as the County's interim Director of Development. She succeeds Paul Oyaski, who did not continue through the county government transition. Baunach led NorTech from 1999 to 2009, and is now its president emeritus.

Miceli Dairy Products received a $5.49 million loan through the Small Business Administration's 504 program. The loan will permit the company to proceed with the planned expansion of its Buckeye Road plant in Cleveland.

The Ohio EPA issued its first statewide air toxics monitoring study (PDF). The report utilized data (PDF) from 34 monitoring sites in 16 counties, including several sites in Cuyahoga County. It identified elevated cancer risks in seven counties, but not in Cuyahoga County.

A local coalition plans to remove three low-head dams along Baldwin Creek in Berea to improve its habitat (PDF). The partners hope to complete the work by the end of the year, and will hold a public meeting on February 1 at the Berea Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

South Euclid boards and commissions approved plans for the first phase of the Cedar Center redevelopment, which will be anchored by a GFS Marketplace store. It's scheduled to open this fall.

U.S. District Judge John Adams said he has "grave doubts" about the plans to reduce combined sewer overflows in Akron. He is concerned about the timing and lack of certainty, and could reject the proposed settlement between the City and the U.S. EPA. Members of Akron City Council are also unhappy about the consent decree, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial characterized their reactions as "predictable sticker shock."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Judge Adams should allow the agreement to stand.

The Ohio EPA published draft rules for construction and demolition debris landfills. The revised rules are intended to reduce the landfills' environmental impacts (PDF) by preventing leachate problems. Landfill operators oppose the changes. The rules are open to public comment through April 1.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources finalized its update of the Coastal Erosion Area maps. They include projections for recession rates over the next 30 years. In addition, ODNR's Office of Coastal Management is accepting applications for two lakefront land acquisition programs, the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Land Acquisition Grant program and the Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

Ohio homebuilders oppose changes to the state's building code. The changes, based on International Code Council models, would require more energy-efficient construction. Neighboring states have adopted or are considering the changes, but in Ohio, they have remained in committees for two years.

Update: Builder Magazine also reported on the subject.

Economist and blogger Chris Briem described how Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania are interconnected and asserted that "in many ways it already functions as a single region." The Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh area is also the focus of the Regional Learning Network and the Tech Belt initiative.

Judge Russo appointed businessman Dan T. Moore to succeed Fred Rzepka as one of the three Cleveland Metroparks commissioners. Moore joins Bruce Rinker and David Whitehead as members of the board.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Moore seems like a good fit".

Passenger rail advocates estimate that canceling the planned 3C Corridor line will eliminate about 16,700 jobs and $3 billion in spinoff developments. The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin, a consistent critic of the plans, said that subsidies for the line would have "blown such a gigantic hole in the state budget it would have adversely impacted state spending for schools, children, the poor, the aged and the ill."

Fairview Park residents may vote in May on a proposed rezoning of the Garnett School site on Lorain Road. The City is acquiring the 4.77-acre property from the School District, and an unidentified developer wants to build a skilled nursing and assisted living facility on the property.

Jacobs Entertainment announced Friday that it had secured financing for the first phase of the proposed Greater Cleveland Aquarium in the Flats. Construction of the $33 million phase one at the Powerhouse is expected to begin this week, and the facility is scheduled to open in the fall. A $40 million phase two is under design.

Strongsville City Council approved the creation of the City's third tax increment financing district, the second along Pearl Road. The TIF district is expected to help fund the second phase of the Pearl Road widening project.

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