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February 2011 Archives

As University Hospitals opens its new $298 million Ahuja Medical Center in the Chagrin Highlands, the Plain Dealer looked at the hospital's evidence-based design features, usage of new technologies, and its attention to wellness and green building. The 53-acre campus features 144 patient rooms, and has space for two additional towers that could bring the total to 600 rooms. Steven Litt contrasted the hospital's advanced design and construction techniques with its automobile-oriented location in suburban Beachwood.

Through its new Strategic Code-Enforcement Partnership, the City of Cleveland will collaborate with the network of community development corporations to address building code violations. They intend to conduct exterior inspections of every building in the City over the next three years.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the initiative.

Construction of the Renaissance Park shopping center in Strongsville remains stalled while its former developer's bankruptcy issues remain unsettled. The Timberstone Group of Toledo filed for bankruptcy in September 2009.

Cleveland Area History reports that the congregation of the Euclid Avenue Church of God in Cleveland "has been offered an unspecified sum by the Cleveland Clinic in return for demolishing the structure, a Cleveland Landmark, and providing the Clinic with a vacant lot."

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Transportation will permanently close University Road between West 14th Street and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks in Tremont, and will begin demolition of the Cleveland Cold Storage Building. Soon after that, the East 21st Street ramp to I-77 southbound will be closed for at least six years. The work is in preparation for the construction of the new Innerbelt Bridge.

Lake County Chief Deputy Engineer Bruce Landeg asserts that security implications make high-speed rail unfeasible. In a News-Herald op-ed, he says that "rail is for freight and people are for cars" and the "status quo in transportation system choices is the best and the fiscally responsible choice".

A developer hopes to build Cedar Creek Estates, a 12-house large-lot subdivision in northern Strongsville. In Rocky River, construction and sales of the upscale Eleven River condominiums continue.

Update: the Strongsville Planning Commission approved the plans for Cedar Creek Estates.

Two Northeast Ohio funds received a total of $53 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit allocations, part of the $3.5 billion awarded nationwide. The Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund received $35 million in tax credits and the Northeast Ohio Development Fund received $18 million.

Within two weeks, the Cleveland Metroparks will begin construction of a multipurpose trail, a visitor center, and other improvements at the West Creek Reservation in Parma. Work is scheduled for completion in fall 2012.

Update: groundbreaking is scheduled for March 7 (PDF).

Through its Neighbors Invest in Broadway program, Slavic Village Development acquires distressed houses from banks and makes them available for purchase and rehabilitation.

Forest City Enterprises and Rock Ohio Caesars signed a five-year lease agreement for the phase one casino at the Higbee Building in downtown Cleveland. The lease covers about 303,000 square feet on four floors and includes extension options. Its long-term prospects depend on its performance once the phase two casino opens in 2013.

The City of Beachwood eliminated its economic department, and Economic Development Director Vince Adamus resigned. Municipal leaders are evaluating their options. Late last year, the City decided to close the Beachwood Business Development Center, which reopened as the Cleveland Heights Development Center earlier this month.

More than 350 people attended a Tuesday working meeting to discuss the future of the Flats. They initiated a six-month planning process to devise a vision for the district, which faces the challenge of balancing industrial, recreational, residential land uses.

Leaders of local governments, businesses, and nonprofits will serve on the board of Global Cleveland, an initiative scheduled to launch in May. The group seeks to make Cleveland more welcoming to immigrants and to assist immigrants after they arrive. They hope to attract 200,000 immigrants and minorities over the next 20 years.

Update: a Global Cleveland video describes the initiative, and a Plain Dealer editorial backs the effort.

The AsiaTown Transportation & Streetscape Plan (PDF, 29.0 MB), completed in December, recommends mutimodal enhancements for Superior Avenue and East 36th Street in Cleveland. The TLCI-funded plan is "intended to serve as a first step in the process of realizing a vision for a main street district within AsiaTown."

(via Cool Cleveland)

The 83-acre Bluestone Business Park in Euclid is ready for new businesses. Demolition and brownfield remediation of the former PMX Industries/Chase Brass site was completed last year. Mayor Cervenik said that it eventually could include about 1 million square feet of industrial and office space with 1,000 jobs.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights municipal officials, business owners, and nonprofit leaders met on Monday to discuss the future of the Cedar Taylor business district.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health announced that it is dropping its plans to build a new psychiatric hospital on Euclid Avenue and that it will close its facility adjacent to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The department says that it will save $30 million by instead expanding its Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare campus in Sagamore Hills Township. The City of Cleveland has spent more than $4.1 million on land assembly and environmental cleanup for the planned hospital in Midtown.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal provided more details.

The City of Berea will hold a series of public meetings from March through May to discuss proposed changes to the City's zoning code and map. The first event is on March 11.

The Kresge Foundation awarded $6 million in grants, including $750,000 to a coalition in East Cleveland that will work to improve the health outcomes of young people. The East Cleveland Teen Collaborative will address the social determinants of health for the City's youths.

After making several changes to the House version of the bill, the Ohio Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that will privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobOhio development corporation. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill on Friday (PDF).

Update: Governor Kasich signed the bill on Friday. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the "Senate amendments were steps in the right direction," but called for more transparency and accountability.

President Obama's proposed 2012 budget could have a number of local impacts.

Funding for many urban development, environmental, and historic preservation programs would also be reduced.

Update: Great Lakes advocates are urging Congress to restore funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Great Lakes congressional delegation "must join together, in a bipartisan manner, to preserve" the program.

Leaders of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and Central Elgin, Ontario soon may begin formal negotiations on the proposed Cleveland to Port Stanley ferry (PDF). Unlike earlier proposals that emphasized trucks, the proposed pilot program would focus on on tourism and recreation.

Update: officials may soon schedule a meeting. Discussions about ferry service between Ashtabula County and Port Burwell, Ontario are moving more slowly. Bill Callahan supplies more context.

Ken Kilbert of the University of Toledo summarized Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie shorelines case recently heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Following its $45 million investment in the Flats east bank project, the Cleveland International Fund is looking at financing the expansion of University Hospitals in University Circle.

The Redfields to Greenfields project proposes that public-private partnerships should acquire unproductive urban properties and convert them to greenspace or set them aside for future development. Its Cleveland report (PDF), issued in 2010, says that a $2 billion investment would "remove an estimated 1,850 acres of non-performing real estate from the market" and "create over 120 miles of interconnected greenways."

(via SmartPlanet)

After 15 years of increases, Ohio's foreclosure rate declined in 2010. There were 85,483 new foreclosure filings in 2010, down from the record-high 89,053 filings in 2009, a 4% decrease. Some of the drop can be attributed to the robo-signing moratorium. Filings in Cuyahoga County fell by 9.5% over the same period, but the county had 12,825 filings, the most of any Ohio county. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "task to drive down the risk of foreclosure in Ohio is no less urgent than it has been the past decade."

The new Re-imagining Cleveland Ideas to Action Resource Book (PDF) is now available. It's intended to "put ideas and helpful information into the hands of people who can and will change the city for the better" and to "introduce you to some local heroes who are leading the way". On Thursday, the Levin College Forum at Cleveland State will host a Re-Imagining Cleveland forum and gallery opening.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the initiative.

Update 2: Marc Lefkowitz and Gloria Ferris wrote about the event.

A group of local paddlers is developing a plan for a Cuyahoga River water trail, and held a day-long workshop in Cuyahoga Falls. Officials in Cuyahoga Falls also anticipate that the removal of two dams will create conditions for whitewater rafting.

The Trumbull-Great Lakes-Ruhlin design-build team, one of the two unsuccessful finalists in the Innerbelt Bridge project, dropped its lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Euclid City Schools are building four new elementary schools. Work on the $65 million project is scheduled to begin in April. When construction is finished next year, the existing buildings will be demolished.

URS Corp. will conduct engineering studies for the Mayfield Village Green Corridor this year. Construction is scheduled for 2012 and 2013. The project received $600,000 in Transportation Enchantment funds in December, as one of 17 selected for funding (PDF).

The Plain Dealer published more information about the planned demolition of the Walker and Weeks-designed James H. Foster house in Cleveland Heights. Habitat for Humanity is currently salvaging architectural details from the building.

The City of Cleveland plans to build a skatepark on the Columbus Road Peninsula in the Flats, adjacent to the new Rivergate Park. Construction of the $550,000 project could begin this summer. The new facility will replace the North Coast Harbor skatepark, closed last year because of safety concerns. A Plain Dealer editorial says it "makes sense, on a lot of levels, as a way to make the riverfront -- and downtown living -- more inviting."

Cool Cleveland looked at how Cleveland State University is refashioning its campus to make it more attractive to students.

Update: Channel 19 also reported on CSU's plans.

The Planning and Urban Design Working Group of the City of Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission presented its recommendations (PDF) on Thursday. Its set of recommendations for the Mall and Public Square suggest ways to improve downtown's connectivity and to shift from an automobile-focused pattern to a more human-oriented scale. The estimated cost of the investments is $87.6-89.6 million.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Cleveland can't afford to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine its center".

A bipartisan group of northern Ohio Congress members met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to talk about the possibility of building a high-speed rail line along Lake Erie. It could connect Cleveland and Toledo with Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, as well as Youngstown and Pittsburgh.

The Ohio Department of Transportation committed $6 million for improving bicycle and pedestrian access on Cleveland's Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. Construction is tentatively scheduled for next year. Marc Lefkowitz called it a victory for the Access for All campaign.

Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson has concerns about the proposed Hazel at the Circle apartments in University Circle, and delayed a rezoning request for the property. Developers had planned to begin construction of the 59-unit complex on Hazel Drive by this June.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Councilman Johnson should allow the project to proceed.

Participants in the community roundtable on this week's Civic Commons radio show (MP3, 16.3 MB) discussed regional collaboration.

Representatives from the City of Cleveland, the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation, and Cleveland Public Art shared the latest plans for the redesign of Ohio City's Market Square Park. The $1.5 million project at West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue is scheduled to be completed by this fall.

Update: an OCNW video describes the project.

The new mayor of Central Elgin, Ontario expressed interest in discussing a proposed Cleveland to Port Stanley ferry. Another group wants to establish ferry service between Port Burwell and Conneaut.

(via GLIN)

A new study from Enterprise Community Partners "examines the value of parcel-level real estate data for neighborhood stabilization programs in general, and looks specifically at how the Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing system (NEO CANDO) is used in Cleveland."

After incorporating input from Broadview Heights residents, the Elsa Drive Wetland Restoration and Protection Project (PDF) now calls for expanding the existing 1.9-acre wetland to 3.15 acres.

Ohio Department of Transportation leaders announced that the agency will rescind a large portion of the funding it pledged for public transportation, reducing the three-year, $150 program to $80 million. RTA will lose the $2.2 million in funding it received in January, and will not be able to initiate planned new services.

ODOT Director Jerry Wray added that Ohio will not be participating in the proposed new $53 billion federal high-speed rail initiative. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that the state's absence will not harm the program.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the decision to cut public transit funding is a mistake. A Blade editorial said that it "may cost the state tax revenue from business activity in the long run."

The renovation of the former St. Luke's Medical Center will begin this week. The project's first phase will convert the central wing to 72 units of senior housing, and should be completed in 2012. The three-phase project could be completed by 2013.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called it "a perfect fit for this family-centered neighborhood."

Cleveland City Council authorized spending $387,000 on plans for the renovation of League Park. City officials have committed $5 million to the project, and hope to raise another $3.5 million in private donations.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew wrote that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be among the federal programs targeted for funding cuts in President Obama's proposed 2012 budget. Congress has not yet approved the 2011 budget, and could make further reductions in spending. Great Lakes advocates continue to support the initiative.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that it's "an example of how misguided the budget debate has become", while Tom Henry said that "if the lakes are to ever reach their potential, there's got to be more than just money."

A new report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University examines bank walkaways and "stalled foreclosure cases in Cuyahoga County in order to describe the factors involved in delayed foreclosure cases."

On Tuesday, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new building in University Circle. The museum at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road is scheduled to open in fall 2012.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial extols the construction in University Circle.

This spring, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin construction of the Euclid Creek Tunnel, a 18,000-foot-long, 24-foot-diameter sewer tunnel that will be up to 220 feet under Lake Erie. The work is part of the district's Project Clean Lake program.

A piece by the Plain Dealer editorial board highlights positive news about Cleveland and offers a set of goals for this year. It proposes ways to rebuild human capital, rebrand the city, and reform government and civic life. The newspaper also published a set of ideas from readers.

A Sun Press editorial says that "neighboring municipalities are pooling resources to purchase items or utilize services that can benefit all municipalities involved" and that municipal collaboration can save money.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will soon begin searching for a designer for the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. ODOT officials say that the second bridge, which will replace the existing span, will appear similar but not identical to the first new bridge.

Bay Village City Council may establish riparian setback rules, which would limit construction within 25 feet of six creeks.

By a vote of 59-37, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that would replace the Ohio Department of Development with Governor Kasich's proposed JobsOhio development corporation. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate.

Update: editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Senate to improve the legislation.

Update 2: columnist Thomas Suddes questioned the proposal's constitutionality.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is preparing to demolish the first three buildings in the Innerbelt Bridge project. Long-term lane closures will follow later this month and next.

In an op-ed in Toledo's Blade, Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution said that "Ohio must recognize the power of its economic engines: the metropolitan areas that house most of its people and generate an even greater portion of its gross domestic product."

(via Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

The owners of the Walker and Weeks-designed James H. Foster house in Cleveland Heights intend to demolish the 1911 structure.

Update: Cleveland Area History has more information about the house (part 1, part 2).

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