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February 2013 Archives

At its February 14 meeting, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved the demolition of the former Euclid Avenue Church of God at East 86th Street. The Commission had rejected earlier requests in 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile, the City of Cleveland is pursuing redevelopment plans at West 117th Street and Clifton Avenue that include the demolition of the former Fifth Church of Christ Scientist.

Update: the Cleveland Restoration Society's Perspectives newsletter includes an update on the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist.

Update 2: Fresh Water said that the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist likely will be demolished.

An Ohio appeals court overturned a lower court decision and ruled that the City of Munroe Falls cannot enforce some of its ordinances covering oil and gas well drilling, saying that they are preempted by state law. The City plans to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Steven Litt said that the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is providing the region with "its best shot in decades to come up with a better vision for a more sustainable future that could also shrink the cost of government," but noted that "time is running out for NEOSCC."

Eaton Corp. moved about 700 employees into its new 53-acre campus in the Beachwood portion of the Chagrin Highlands. Its 600,000-square-foot building cost an estimated $170 million and replaces the company's former headquarters in downtown Cleveland. The City of Beachwood expects to gain $600,000 to $850,000 in annual payroll tax revenue.

Changes to the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund require projects to have an end user in order to receive funding. Local officials worry that it could make brownfield remediation more difficult.

via DevelopOhio

Governor Kasich's two-year budget plan calls for investing $500 million from Ohio Turnpike-backed bonds by 2015. The governor initially said that 90% of the funds would be spent in northern Ohio, but ODOT Director Jerry Wray called the figure a "foolish expectation." Statehouse Democrats accused the administration of misleading Ohioans and said that the percentages should be specified in the bill. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt said that the proposal is not good public policy, and U.S. Represenative Tim Ryan called it short-sighted and risky. The Turnpike Commission is preparing to issue the bonds.

The budget includes a provision that would return control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the City of Cleveland (PDF) and provide $14 million for the parks. Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik said that legislators should embrace the proposal, and an editorial called it a win-win deal.

Proposed changes to state sales tax laws could affect RTA's finances.

The Ohio Department of Transportation selected three teams of finalists to prepare proposals for designing, constructing, and financing the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. ODOT anticipates naming its preferred team for the $330 million contract this summer.

In its annual Urban Mobility Report, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute reported that traffic congestion in the United States increased slightly in 2011. It said that congestion costs the average Cleveland-area commuter (PDF) $642 per year, less than in most large cities.

Streetsblog DC criticized the report, saying that the "authors still haven't made the changes that would make their congestion rankings meaningful in the real world," and Transportation for America said that the "rankings don't really say much about the lives of the people who live in those places." Slate's Matthew Yglesias noted that the most-congested cities were "all big, exciting, prosperous, dynamic cities," while Better Institutions used the report's figures to calculate the savings offered by public transportation.

The New York Times looked at the League Park renovations underway in Cleveland, describing how the City plans to honor its rich baseball heritage.

A local developer and a New York investor intend to redevelop the Cleveland Athletic Club building as a 194-room Crowne Plaza hotel, apartments, and a fitness center. They hope to purchase the 15-story downtown building in April or May.

An ESOP summary of foreclosure rates reports that although the total number of foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County declined in 2012, residential mortgage foreclosures rose from 9,405 in 2011 to 9,905 in 2012. It says that the 5.3% increase means that the "foreclosure crisis is still thriving in Cuyahoga County and many years from fully resolving." Meanwhile, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank said that mortgage delinquencies continue to decline in Ohio, while figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association indicated that levels remain elevated in Greater Cleveland.

The Columbus Dispatch looked at the recent surges in downtown development seen by Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. Meanwhile, Next City examined how the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland (subscription required) is affecting downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland City Council voted to contribute $50,000 to a study designed to evaluate the relationship between foreclosure rates and housing demolition initiatives in Cuyahoga County. Richey Piiparinen described the need for the study, which is being championed by Jim Rokakis. Councilman Brian Cummins shared some of the City's housing strategies, and a Plain Dealer editorial said that a "plan to deal with the vacant and abandoned properties that crater Cleveland neighborhoods is long overdue."

Update: members of Greater Cleveland's Congressional delegation introduced legislation that would provide federal funding for housing demolition. A Plain Dealer editorial cheered the news.

Update 2: Researcher Richey Piiparinen said that "demolition and preservation are not mutually exclusive."

Sustainable Community Associates, developers of the East College Street Project in Oberlin, are preparing to redevelop the former Fairmont Creamery building in Tremont. They plan to convert the mostly-vacant 100,000-square-foot building into apartments, a fitness center, and offices.

Developers of the mixed-use Spillway project in Chagrin Falls hope to begin construction by mid-summer. They expect the construction and renovation work will take about one year.

The Transformer Station gallery in Ohio City opened to the public on February 1. The 8,000-square-foot galley is a joint project of art collectors Fred and Laura Bidwell of Peninsula and the Cleveland Museum of Art. One of its inaugural exhibitions features large-scale panoramic images of Cleveland bridges by Vaughn Wascovich.

Update: Steven Litt shared his thoughts about the opening.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies' State of Poverty 2012 report (PDF) employs graphics and case studies to illustrate the effects of poverty in Ohio. The report says that 1.8 million Ohioans live below the federal poverty line and that the number of Ohioans in poverty grew by 57.7% between 1999 and 2011.

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland summarized changes in concentrated poverty over the last decade. The analysis indicated that concentrated poverty tended to highest in northern cities. WKSU's M.L. Schultze spoke with Dionissi Aliprantis, the report's lead researcher. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the two reports "offer a grim perspective on the toll the economic downturn has taken in Ohio."

Update: the state Office of Research also published a report on poverty in Ohio (PDF).

In a 5-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state's Oil and Gas Commission cannot hear appeals of drilling permits issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The news pleased the drilling industry and disappointed environmentalists.

Cuyahoga County is again considering runway expansion plans for County Airport. Seven alternatives are being examined. The County Airport environmental assessment project will hold its first public open house on February 27.

Update: unlike earlier plans, the current proposal has generated little controversy.

As of late January, all of Cuyahoga County's 59 cities, villages, and townships have adopted the County's anti-poaching pledge. Middleburg Heights was the final community to sign the agreement. The Greater Cleveland Partnership applauded the announcement, and an earlier Sun News editorial said that "Cuyahoga County needs its communities to work together".

The City of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability recently hosted a workshop on street typologies. The next step in the project is to create a draft typology for public review. The effort is intended to help the City implement its complete and green streets ordinance.

Construction of the racino at Thistledown racetrack in North Randall is nearing completion. It's scheduled to open this spring, and will feature a 57,000-square-foot gaming floor plus multiple dining and nightlife options. A relocation to the Green area remains a possibility.

In Summit County, construction of the racino at Northfield Park began in January, and its owners submitted a license application to the state. The racino, a partnership between Northfield Park and Hard Rock International, will be called Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. They expect it will open in December. The work at the two racetracks is part of a statewide trend.

At its January 22 meeting, Cuyahoga County Council unanimously voted to sell the Ameritrust complex to the Geis Cos. and to lease a to-be-constructed headquarters building from the company. The Geis Cos. formally took control of the property this week. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "county officials must provide thorough oversight" of the project. Council members pledged to closely monitor spending on the new building, and issued an RFQ for a consultant to oversee construction. The County's decision may force Optima Ventures to reconsider its plans for the Huntington Building.

A new report from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy examined the status of land conservation in a 14-county Northeast Ohio region. It found that the area has preserved about 7% of its land, well below recommended levels. The report also explored farmland preservation, urban sprawl, and other challenges and opportunities. It concluded that "the need to wisely preserve the best of our undeveloped land has never been more urgent."

USA Today looked at how several historically black neighborhoods, including Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, are recovering from the recession. The improvements include the PNC Fairfax Connection, which opened at Carnegie Avenue and East 83rd Street late last year.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority provided 48.2 million rides in 2012, about 2 million more than in 2011. The 4.3% ridership increase included a 9.1% increase in Red Line ridership. The Red Line served 525,000 riders in December, its highest monthly figure in over 40 years.

Removal of two Cuyahoga River dams in Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to begin in June. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the plans in December. The City intended to remove the dams last year, but legal and regulatory issues created delays.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal described the process.

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