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On Wednesday, the Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission approved an initial five-year economic development plan. County Council's Economic Development and Planning Committee will review and discuss the plan on June 6.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more information about the draft plan and posted the document (PDF).

Update 2: the plan is available from the Cuyahoga County Department of Development.

The Global Cleveland initiative officially commenced with a launch party on Tuesday evening and a day-long summit on Wednesday. The initiative will employ a four-part strategy targeted at strengthening Northeast Ohio by attracting and retaining newcomers. A Plain Dealer editorial supports its goals. The Civic Commons spoke with the initiative's leaders and with summit attendees for its weekly radio show and is hosting continuing discussions.

American Greetings will partner with Cuyahoga County and City of Brooklyn to bring new jobs to its Brooklyn offices when it moves its headquarters to Westlake. The company is willing to donate or make available some or all of the 1 million square feet for use by nonprofit groups. The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is interested in converting it to a movie studio.

At its meeting on Thursday morning, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission tabled the proposed demolition of the Columbia Building until its next meeting on June 9. Rock Ohio Caesars' proposal for a casino welcome center and parking garage includes the site of the Columbia Building.

A new study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy named Cleveland as one of five American cities with high-quality bus rapid transit systems. Under the report's 100-point scoring system, the HealthLine's score of 69 was the highest in the nation, but well below the scores of the top-rated lines in Bogota and Guangzhou.

Guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed greenspace conservation in Northeast Ohio.

The Ohio EPA awarded 10 grants through its Section 319 program to help communities address nonpoint source pollution. The $2.8 million in grants included a $184,429 grant (PDF) to Mayfield Village for the Chagrin River watershed, a $478,075 grant (PDF) to the City of Aurora for the Upper Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River, a $169,000 grant (PDF) to the Medina County Park District for the Chippewa Lake watershed, and a $57,078 grant (PDF) to Bath Township for the Yellow Creek watershed.

The agency also declared that brownfield remediation has been completed (PDF) at the Steel Slitting site on Aetna Road in Slavic Village, and issued a covenant not to sue.

Update: the Sun Messenger has more details about the grant received by Mayfield Village.

A Wednesday public hearing about the proposal to rezone the South Euclid portion of the former Oakwood Club property attracted a large audience. Prior to the meeting, a group of citizens protested outside. The 72 residents who spoke at the meeting expressed a variety of opinions.

Environmental advocates in other Great Lakes states are worried about the proposed Lake Erie water withdrawal limits recently introduced in the Ohio General Assembly. The proposed limits provide less protection than those established by other states.

Update: the proposal is also receiving criticism within Ohio.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the legislation "fails to meet the compact's spirit and letter," and Gary Wilson of the Biodiversity Project cites it as an example of the region's failure to protect the Great Lakes.

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial strongly opposes the bills.

Plans to demolish the former St. Paul Lutheran Church on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood for a CVS store are proceeding through the review process. Meanwhile, Michael Gill looked to Cleveland's Hessler Road and Collinwood neighborhoods for ideas about saving the closed Detroit Theater from possible demolition. Several construction projects are also planned for the West 117th Street corridor along the Cleveland-Lakewood border.

A new Greater Ohio analysis of Ohio's sales tax patterns and policies concludes that "Ohio's county-based sales tax structure is misaligned with regional shopping trends." It recommends strategies for modernizing the state's taxation system. A short report issued (PDF) by Advance Northeast Ohio puts forward a case for increasing local government collaborations as a method of increasing efficiency.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business and WKSU reported on the Advance Northeast Ohio report. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that communities need more financial support for collaboration initiatives.

In its second Dangerous by Design report, Transportation for America highlights pedestrian safety issues and recommends actions to create safer walking environments. The report examines pedestrian fatality statistics, maps individual pedestrian deaths, and ranks the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was the nation's second-safest. Meanwhile, the League of American Bicyclists issued its fourth annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Ohio was ranked 37th-friendliest.

Preservation Ohio will release its annual list of Ohio's Most Endangered Historic Sites in June, but because of deliberations underway in Cleveland, revealed that downtown's Columbia Building and Stanley Block are on the list. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposed demolition of the Columbia Building on Thursday. Cleveland Area History shared more information about the history of the Columbia Building, Bill Barrow considered a historical parallel, and Ashley Shaw called the parking garage plans an "effort to cater to auto-centric suburban visitors rather than the residents of Cleveland."

Update: Marc Lefkowitz also criticized the proposal, and the Cleveland Coalition urged the Landmarks Commission to postpone demolition approval.

On Monday, developers unveiled the new $21 million MidTown Tech Park in the Health-Tech Corridor along Euclid Avenue. Cleveland Economic Development Director Tracey Nichols described the 128,000-square-foot building as post-incubator space.

RTA received an additional $2 million in federal funding for the reconstruction of the University Circle rapid transit station. Construction bidding for the project is scheduled to begin this fall. RTA has not been as successful in securing funds for the planned new East 120th Street rapid transit station in Little Italy.

The National Park Service will use $5.29 million from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund to complete the second of two land purchases at Blossom Music Center. The 344 acres of forests and meadows will be added to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along with the 233 acres purchased in March. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says it is "welcome news for all who support and enjoy the Cuyahoga Valley National Park."

Northeast Ohio retail developers at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas are focusing on renovations and expansions of existing shopping centers. Stark Enterprises is seeking upscale retailers for the final phase of Crocker Park in Westlake.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded a $290,345 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant to the City of Cleveland to conduct an environmental assessment at Water Tower Park on Coit Road. The 24.6-acre former Fisher Body property is one of the largest contiguous brownfield sites (PDF) in Cleveland.

American Greetings notified its employees that it will move its headquarters from Brooklyn to Westlake in 2014. The company plans to build a a 700,000-square-foot complex on a 13-acre site at the southern end of Crocker Park, and is in discussions with the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools about a 30-year tax increment financing package. The $100 million development will require about $41 million in infrastructure improvements. Mayor Balbier of Brooklyn said his city made every effort to keep American Greetings, but "can't compete with a wealthy suburb like Westlake."

Update: a Morning Journal editorial said it "should make the entire West Shore region of western Cuyahoga and eastern Lorain counties even more appealing". Roldo Bartimole called it a "big theft of public dollars".

At its meeting on Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved plans for a casino parking garage and welcome center. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal on Thursday. Steven Litt was disappointed by the plans, calling them "the kind of actions that can erode a city's visual integrity and sense of place."

The Center for Neighborhood Technology issued an analysis of the Greater Cleveland economy (PDF). It examines regional strengths and weaknesses, and offers a variety of suggestions. CNT published similar reports for Cincinnati and Columbus.

Update: the Plain Dealer highlighted several of the report's recommendations.

At its meeting on Wednesday (PDF), the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted to open Dike 14 to the public as the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. The board also approved issuing $2.5 million in bonds for a planned hotel in University Circle and an additional $5 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. It did not approve an extension of a parking agreement with the Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland City Council approved $550,000 for the planned Cleveland Skateboard Park in the Flats. Organizers hope to raise a total of $670,000 for the project.

The Ohio Department of Transportation agreed to pay an additional $650,000 to resolve a ramp design dispute for the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland.

The City of Lakewood received one response to its RFP for the redevelopment of the former Spitzer dealership on Detroit Avenue, a proposal for low-income senior housing from the NRP Group. The proposed $7.8 million Parkwood Pointe development would be three stories tall and include 40 rental units.

Update: Lakewood Patch published a brief article about the proposal.

The City of Beachwood is reshaping its economic development efforts. City Council approved the hiring of a consultant team led by SZD Whiteboard to review its programs and hired Brad Sellers as an in-house adviser.

The Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center dedicated its new inpatient bed tower, homeless veterans domiciliary, and administration building at its Wade Park campus in Cleveland on Monday. The VA is concurrently winding down operations at its Brecksville campus.

The NOACA Governing Board voted to oppose the proposed privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. Members said that it would lead to higher tolls, reduced maintenance, and increased traffic on alternative routes. The Governing Board also adopted the agency's 2012-2015 TIP (PDF).

"Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America", a new report from the Brookings Institution, compared access to public transit in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. It analyzed how well transit systems connect people to jobs, examining the share of residents served by transit, the share of jobs accessible by transit, and its frequency of service. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked 41st, with figures close to (PDF) national averages. Alan Berube said that "transit simply must be part of a successful 21st century metropolitan economy," and Shaun Donovan and Ray LaHood described shifts in federal programs. An interactive map offers detailed information at the block group level.

Citing "recent legislative action and discussion proposing significantly higher taxes and fees", Rock Ohio Caesars suspended construction of its casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Matt Cullen of Rock Gaming said that there is too much economic uncertainty for construction to proceed. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the casino developers' stance.

Meanwhile, representatives of Rock Ohio Caesars presented the company's plans for a parking garage and welcome center to the Cleveland Landmarks Commission on Thursday. Their plans include the demolition of the landmark Columbia Building on Prospect Avenue. The neighboring Stanley Block was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, and Heritage Ohio included the building in its annual Top Opportunities List.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2010 Census demographic profiles for Ohio and several other states. They provide information at state, county, and city levels. The profiles show that Ohio's population aged over the last decade, while the West and South had younger populations. The number of single-parent households in Ohio increased, and the rate of home ownership decreased. The profile data is available through the Census Bureau's American Factfinder.

Two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would implement the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. The enabling legislation includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie. Industry groups support the bill, but environmental advocates say that it provides insufficient protection.

Prompted by a recent blog post and an online conversation, the discussion on this week's Civic Commons radio show centered on urban sprawl. The participants were Angie Schmitt of Rust Wire and economic development professionals Tim Smith of Brunswick and Ralph Waszak of Richfield.

Marc Lefkowitz wrote about the Healthy Communities Active Transportation Conference & Workshop held earlier this week and the state of local bike planning. Cleveland Bicycle Week 2011 starts on Monday. Meanwhile, a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation says that most states lack adequate information to accurately evaluate the performance of their transportation networks. Ohio's scores were in the middle.

Update: ODOT posted the presentations from the HCAT conference.

A preliminary version of the Westlake Bikeway Plan makes short-term and long-term recommendations for a citywide bicycle transportation network. The TLCI-funded project should be completed in about a month.

RTA will celebrate the grand opening of the reconstructed Puritas Rapid Transit Station on Tuesday. Construction of the $9.6 million project began in May 2009.

The U.S. EPA launched an initiative to promote green infrastructure and reduce stormwater runoff. The agency will partner with 10 cities, including Cleveland.

(via the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC)

Planning consultant David Hartt of D.B. Hartt, Inc. has begun a major revision of the Village of Moreland Hills' zoning code.

Draft changes to the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council project scoring criteria (PDF) would de-emphasize the creation of an integrated multimodal transportation network in favor of prioritizing economic development potential.

Update: the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club doesn't support the changes.

Michael Gill is concerned that Lakewood may lose buildings that contribute to its architectural character. He considered the abandoned plans to demolish the Heideloff House and the proposals to raze the former St. Paul Lutheran Church and the closed Detroit Theater, which could be replaced with a CVS store and a McDonald's, respectively.

Supporters of the plans to remake the Mall in downtown Cleveland have about two months to raise $500,000 for preliminary engineering and design work.

The Foundation Center reports that grants for economic development activities in Ohio grew by 152% between 2005 and 2008. The largest contributions over that period were made by the Knight Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation.

The Plain Dealer published more information about the City of Cleveland's plans for a waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station and environmentalists' concerns about the concept.

Update: participants on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the proposal.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "the concept is intriguing."

The two-year budget approved by the Ohio House on Thursday would indefinitely extend the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, capping the annual allocation at $25 million. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the provision.

A Summit County Court of Common Pleas judge issued an injunction against a company seeking to drill a natural gas well in Munroe Falls. The driller has not applied for municipal approval of roads and other construction associated with the well, and asserts that the only permits required are those from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "ruling reflects is an effort to find a middle ground before it is too late." Other Northeast Ohio communities are searching for ways to regulate drilling.

The latest designs from Rock Ohio Caesars for a parking garage and welcome center near the planned downtown Cleveland casino call for building around the Stanley Block and demolishing the Columbia Building. The company is also interested in purchasing the Gateway North Parking Garage from the City of Cleveland.

Stark Enterprises has revived plans to build a hotel at Crocker Park in Westlake, and hired a consultant to study the idea. Plans for a hotel at the development were first announced in May 2005.

The City of Cleveland's plans for Burke Lakefront Airport include increasing hangar space (possibly on the site of the former Aviation High School), building a new terminal, and adding a runway. Lute Harmon of Inside Business is among those who think that it would be better to close the airport.

In this week's issue of Fresh Water, Douglas Trattner describes the transformation of Tyler Village from an industrial facility to a mixed-use complex.

Cleveland State University Provost Geoffrey Mearns will mediate the dispute between the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and suburban mayors over fees associated with the District's stormwater management program.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee voted to open Dike 14 to the public. The full board is expected to approve the decision at its meeting on May 18. To start, the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve would be open one or two days per week.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

Update 2: the spring 2011 open house (PDF) will be held on May 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the decision "exemplifies a sea change in attitude."

Participants in the 2011 Cleveland Design Competition will offer concepts for a new K-12 public school on a site north of Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland. Organizers expect to receive at least 100 entries from around the world.

A new paper by Alan Mallach and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution describes how outdated state laws create barriers to the redevelopment of abandoned properties. They suggest policy changes that would give municipalities more tools for repurposing distressed land and buildings.

Voters in Fairview Park approved the rezoning of the former Garnett School property from low-rise planned development to general business. O'Neill Management plans to build a skilled nursing and assisted living facility on the site. It was the only rezoning issue on Tuesday's ballot in Cuyahoga County.

Members of Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission and students from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University discussed downtown Cleveland design issues (MP3, 53.8 MB) at the City Club last Thursday.

Re-imagining Greater Cleveland issued a request for proposals for a consultant to develop a plan for the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in Kinsman.

Ohio City property owners voted to establish a special improvement district for the neighborhood. If approved by Cleveland City Council, the SID will go into effect next year.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial backs the proposal.

The American Lung Association's 12th annual State of the Air report says that Cuyahoga County's air quality continues to improve, but it again gave the County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked as having the nation's 12th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Previous reports: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.

The Ohio Department of Transportation agreed to have consultants prepare an economic impact study as part of its Innerbelt reconstruction plans. Businesses in Midtown are challenging ODOT's plans to close the ramps at Prospect and Carnegie avenues.

The Cleveland Coalition published a report on the planned Cleveland casino. It builds upon two events held last year, and includes a variety of suggestions for integrating the casino into the city.

The South Euclid Planning Commission discussed the Coral Co.'s plans for the redevelopment of the north side of Cedar Center. Developer Peter Rubin said he will incorporate the feedback into the plans. A GFS Marketplace store at the western end of the site was approved in January, and Gordon Food Service purchased 1.4 acres of the property for the store in February. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in April.

In the fifth report (PDF) in the Paying More for the American Dream series, a group of nonprofits examined mortgage refinance lending in seven metropolitan areas. In the five-county Greater Cleveland area, residents of neighborhoods with large minority populations were denied loans at a much higher rate than homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The Ohio EPA is offering a set of four proposed water quality rule packages for public comment. Three of the four packages were released in 2008. Both environmental and industry groups have issues with portions of the rules. The deadline for comments is June 6.

The municipal Wi-Fi network for Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood went live on Friday. The $1.2 million Old Brooklyn Connected initiative will provide free wireless access for the next five years.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Councilman "Kelley and his allies deserve credit for bringing the project to this advanced stage. What remains to be seen is how it will play out and whether it will justify its projected cost".

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday for the redevelopment of the former St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland. The project's $15.1 million first phase will rehabilitate the central wing as 72 units of senior housing that will be called St. Luke's Manor. The Ohio EPA recently declared that brownfield remediation is complete (PDF) for the 5.19-acre site.

Case Western Reserve University selected the firm of Perkins+Will to design the Tinkham Veale University Center. The architecture firm was one of four finalists for the proposed $50 million student center. Preliminary designs should be ready by the end of July.

Removal of the concrete dam on Euclid Creek in Euclid is complete. The dam in the Cleveland Metroparks Euclid Creek Reservation was built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and its removal was a five-year process.

Cleveland Metroparks Commissioner Dan T. Moore, appointed in January, is interested in public access to Lake Erie and lakefront parks. The Metroparks are in the midst of a master planning process, which includes an examination of a greater lakefront presence.

Local environmental groups have questions about the City of Cleveland's proposed waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station. They are concerned about its air quality implications and its potential to discourage waste reduction practices. The groups will host a community discussion (PDF) on May 10 at the Cleveland Environmental Center, where Neil Seldman of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will make a presentation.

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