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August 2012 Archives

A couple purchased the historic Sears-Adams House in Chagrin Falls, saving it from potential demolition. They plan to renovate it as their home. The Greek Revival house was built in 1844. In May, Heritage Ohio identified it as one of the state's top preservation opportunities.

Aurora City Council approved a JEDD agreement for the Marketplace at Four Corners development in Bainbridge Township. The Bainbridge Township Trustees approved the agreement in May.

Five to 10 new independent retailers will open along St. Clair Avenue between East 61st Street and Addison Avenue through a new program of the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation. Inspired by Oakland's Popuphood initiative, the program includes six months free rent, storefront renovations, marketing assistance, security, and business training for merchants.

Update: more than 80 people applied for the program.

An analysis of U.S. EPA data by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked states by the amount of toxic emissions generated by their electric sectors. Ohio had the second-highest levels, trailing only Kentucky. All of the states bordering Ohio appeared in the list's top 10. The NRDC expects toxic emissions to decline dramatically because of new federal standards.

With Ford scheduled to close its Walton Hills Stamping Plant in 2014, officials have begun discussing the future of the site. Terry Coyne of Grubb & Ellis thinks that there are reasons to be optimistic about the plant's fate.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation completed the sale of 2.4 acres at Rivergate Park to the Cleveland Metroparks. The park district will operate its Institute of the Great Outdoors at the new park in the Flats.

Cleveland leaders are considering a development agreement with Geis Companies for a proposed waterfront office park near Burke Lakefront Airport. The company would receive a one-year lease on the 20-acre site. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "significant and exciting" news that "could be the start of something truly grand," while Alec Pacella of SB Equities listed six things to consider about the plan.

Update: City officials said that the nearby USS Cod will continue to have a place on the lakefront.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt praised downtown Cleveland's redesigned Perk Park, calling it "a powerful demonstration of why it's essential to make more places like it throughout the city's heart." Channel 3 also reported from the park on a Walnut Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Cleveland residents and officials celebrated the reopening of the redesigned outdoor spaces at the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center. The $3 million project (PDF) in the EcoVillage combines active recreation with green infrastructure.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Office's announced that 12 suburban communities will share $1 million of the $5 million the office committed as a local match for housing demolition funding from the national mortgage settlement. The communities receiving grants between $50,000 and $100,000 are Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Newburgh Heights, North Olmsted, North Royalton, Parma, Parma Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, and Warrensville Heights.

More than 250 supporters celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking for a 0.6-mile stretch of the Towpath Trail on the Scranton Peninsula in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County posted video of the event. The $9.1 million project will also restore 2,800 feet of natural shoreline and create new fish habitats. Construction is scheduled to begin in September and a late summer 2013 opening is planned. A Plain Dealer editorial offered praise.

A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (PDF) said that while American metropolitan economies continue to improve (PDF), funding shortfalls are making the nation's transportation infrastructure less competitive. It said that in 2011, the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area's $106.6 billion gross metropolitan product was the 27th largest in the U.S., and about equal to the GDP of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, American Society of Civil Engineers President Andrew Herrmann made similar remarks at the Build Up Greater Cleveland annual meeting, telling attendees that the country needs to invest more in maintaining its infrastructure.

A libertarian group joined a liberal organization in filing an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the JobsOhio program and who has legal standing to issue a challenge. Two lower courts said that the groups lacked legal standing.

Because of the legal challenges, Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman has declined to sign an agreement transferring state liquor revenues to JobsOhio. The Kasich administration responded by asking the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on the program's constitutionality. An Akron Beacon Journal concluded that this "presents an opening for the high court, finally, to get the matter settled." Joe Koncelik considered its implications for brownfield redevelopment funding.

The Strongsville Planning Commission approved plans for a 110,000-square-foot Market District supermarket on Pearl Road. The City's Architectural Review Board also approved the plans. Giant Eagle intends to break ground in September or October and open the store next summer.

The West Creek Preservation Committee soon may purchase a 60,800-square-foot lot near the southern end of the Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation in Parma. Adding the property to the park will create more options for extending the West Creek Greenway Trail.

Mayor Alai of Broadview Heights said that he is committed to implementing the City's 2010 Town Center Master Plan. The Broadview Heights Planning Commission is studying zoning code changes that would permit mixed-use development.

No developers responded to an Ohio Department of Transportation proposal to add commercial development at five southeast Ohio highway rest areas. ODOT will continue to pursue the program, despite persistent opposition.

Hemingway Development reached an agreement to purchase the building at 6555 Carnegie Avenue (PDF) in Cleveland. The 64,000-square-foot building will become the third phase of the MidTown Tech Park office development.

Cuyahoga County officially launched its property consolidation effort, offering 13 properties for sale and requesting proposals for new office and storage space. The buildings for sale include the County Administration Building, the Ameritrust complex, and the former Juvenile Justice Center. They are being presented to potential purchasers at a series of open houses. The County is seeking 225,000 square feet of downtown office space and 200,000 square feet of storage space. County officials intend to discuss the proposals in private, but County Executive FitzGerald pledged to make public all proposals before presenting them to County Council. County leaders are also considering a real-estate consulting contract.

Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine wrote about the lack of transparency and compared the process to old county government practices. A Plain Dealer called it "a huge opportunity for the county to secure its own bottom line and to boost downtown."

Update WKSU's Kevin Niedermier explored how the building sales could affect downtown Cleveland.

The former Ivex mill in Chagrin Falls was added to the National Register of Historic Places, listed as the Adams Bag Company Paper Mill and Sack Factory (PDF). It is being redeveloped as the mixed-use Spillway project.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board recommended four Cuyahoga County sites for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places: the former Richman Bros. factory (PDF) on East 55th Street in Cleveland, the Neal Terrace and Oppmann Terrace (PDFs) apartments, both located on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland, and the Euclid Heights Historic District (PDF) in Cleveland Heights. It would be the City's 11th historic district.

Greater Cleveland residential projects in the news:

Update: a West Shore Sun editorial says that "things are looking up" for Rockport Shopping Center in Rocky River.

Update 2: Cleveland Heights Patch has more information about the plans for the Meadowbrook-Lee development.

RTA reports that ridership figures continue to increase. Overall ridership in the first half of 2012 was 6% higher than the same period last year. The system has experienced 15 consecutive months of ridership growth.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted to place a five-year, 0.67 mill tax levy on the November ballot. The levy would increase a property owner's tax from $3.50 per $100,000 of assessed value to $20 per $100,000 of assessed value. The new funding (PDF) would be used to implement recommendations (PDF) in the strategic plan the port authority adopted last year, including capital improvements to port facilities, a new sediment disposal program, and Cuyahoga River ship channel restoration and slope stabilization. Steven Litt said it is "a credible, well-conceived plan to rethink and rebuild critical pieces of infrastructure on the lakefront and along the river," while Erick Trickey called it "pretty smart political packaging and coalition-building."

The sixth report in the Paying More for the American Dream series "examines systemic inequities in the mortgage market" (PDF) in seven American cities, including Cleveland. It found that African-American and Latino homebuyers were significantly more likely to receive government-backed loans than white homebuyers. The government-backed loans are typically more expensive than conventional mortgages.

Cleveland developer/architect Dick Pace spoke with Fresh Water about his role in renovating historic local properties for contemporary users.

At the first of three public hearings convened by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald on the future of the Ohio Turnpike, residents expressed opposition to privatizing the toll road. Turnpike Commission Executive Director Rick Hodges said that the study being conducted for the state by KPMG should be completed by the end of the year, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that Governor Kasich faces "hurdles in making his case" to lease the turnpike.

A study of job accessibility by Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution found that "over three-quarters of all jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas are in neighborhoods with transit service" but added that "the typical job is accessible to only about 27 percent of its metropolitan workforce by transit in 90 minutes or less." In the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF), the figures were 74.7% and 26.0%, respectively, ranking 42nd and 40th.

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