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May 2013 Archives

The City of Cleveland Heights canceled its development agreement with the Orlean Company for a planned mixed-use project at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard. The City issued a new request for development proposals (PDF) for the site and for several other City-owned properties.

Mayor Summers of Lakewood and Mayor Clough of Westlake participated in a recent League of Women Voters forum (PDF) on regionalism. While they agreed on some aspects like service delivery, they offered different views on topics like tax-base sharing and the role of the central city.

Tony Hull, a planner helping to develop Cleveland's bike sharing plans, said that the City "can no longer claim the mantle of being first. At this point, it would be better served to get it right."

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt drew connections between a series of seemingly-unrelated headlines to outline the "compelling overall narrative" of Northeast Ohio as a region "at odds with itself as it tries to figure out how to meet the 21st century."

Cleveland City Council approved transferring management of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the Cleveland Metroparks (PDF). The 99-year lease agreement covers Wildwood, Villa Angela, Euclid Beach, Gordon, and Edgewater parks and the East 55th Street Marina, plus the transfer of $14 million in state funding to the Metroparks.

Update: the Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners approved a step toward completing the transfer. Endorsement of the final agreement is expected in June.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Jim Rokakis described the region's problems with abandoned houses and presented the arguments for a strategic demolition program.

The latest report on job sprawl by Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution said that the recession "helped drive a slight uptick in urban core job share in more than half of the nation's largest metro areas between 2007 and 2010." However, job sprawl was more pronounced in the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF) from 2000 to 2010. Of the nation's 100 largest metro areas, Greater Cleveland had the 19th-highest share of jobs located in outer-ring communities.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center issued two of its yearly reports. The 2013 State of Fair Housing in Northeast Ohio (PDF) said that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a decline in the number of housing discrimination complaints, but estimated "that there are annually at least 33,690 instances of housing discrimination" in Greater Cleveland. Its Racial & Ethnic Disparities in 2011 Ohio Mortgage Lending (PDF) report said that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit."

A $175,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation enabled the the Cleveland 2030 District to hire architect Jon Reidy as its executive director (PDF). He's working to increase membership of the green building organization.

Leaders in Strongsville hope that funding from the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission will be used to build more noise barriers along the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 71. In addition, a Strongsville city councilman says that the City should pursue funding for a new highway interchange at I-71 and Boston Road.

While skeptics have questioned whether the phase two casino in downtown Cleveland will ever be built, City officials are confident it will proceed. Casino owner Dan Gilbert dismissed critics in a series of tweets and at a Positively Cleveland meeting. He said that it's currently in the design stage, but wouldn't reveal details.

Voters in Broadview Heights and Solon passed zoning issues in the May 7 primary election. Issue 1 in Broadview Heights established a a conversion corridor along Royalton Road, and Issue 2 in Broadview Heights created the Town Center Special Planning District. (The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt recently critiqued the town center plans.) In Solon, Issue 8 rezoned a 2.5-acre parcel from retail to office and Issue 9 rezoned a 5.7-acre property for an auto dealer expansion. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has complete election results.

Meanwhile, Lorain County voters rejected a countywide transit levy. The County will return more than $1.5 million in unused federal transportation funding because it has not fulfilled its 20% local match.

The latest draft of Public Square redesign concept aims to unify the square. It calls for closing the section of Ontario Street that currently bisects the square, adding trees and grass, and creating new attractions. Landscape architect James Corner's Field Operations will continue to refine the plans. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the ideas, and Channel 5's Leon Bibb said he's "a fan of the proposal."

Update: The Architect's Newspaper described the proposal.

Update 2: WKSU aired a report on the Public Square plans.

The Thistledown racino in North Randall officially opened to the public on April 9 as the state's second racino. It features about 1,150 slot machines. Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik said that the new facility is designed to appeal to a different audience than the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland. A relocation to the Green area in Summit County remains a possibility.

Work on the new Cuyahoga County headquarters building in downtown Cleveland began in early April with the start of demolition of the former P&H buildings at East 9th Street and Prospect Avenue. Demolition is scheduled to be finished by late June and the new building is slated to open by July 2014. The project's architect is striving for a subdued modernist design. The project is supported by $75.5 million in bonds from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

Local developer David Lewanski's proposed Pinecrest development in Orange would replace a 76-acre residential area with retail, offices, and housing. If Village officials and voters approve a rezoning, it would add 390,500 square feet of upscale retail, 30,000 square feet of office space and 266 residential units (PDF) to an area near the Chagrin Highlands. Lewanski said he has acquired has long-term purchase options on most of the area's existing houses and that he will not seek development incentives for the project.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park received 2,299,722 visits in 2012, keeping it among the nation's most-visited national parks. A National Park Service report said that visitors in 2011 spent $51,473,000 in communities surrounding the park and supported 728 jobs.

The Westlake Planning Commission approved plans for civic space at Crocker Park. Its Market Square will be a flexible one-acre paved area with a loggia and a stage. The area could host events, a farmers market, and an ice rink. The adjacent Crocker Commons will be a one-acre grassy park. Construction is expected to begin next year. Westlake leaders are optimistic about the delayed American Greetings headquarters project at Crocker Park.

Playhouse Square leaders unveiled a plan for $16 million in streetscape, signage, and lighting improvements. The plan's centerpiece is a 20-foot-tall LED chandelier that will hang over the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 14th Street. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a bold and logical next step in the establishment of a vibrant theater district downtown."

Update: Steven Litt said that adding the chandelier "might turn out to be a brilliant move." Next City also wrote about the plan.

The cities of Westlake and Lakewood continue to advance their bicycle planning initiatives. Westlake's draft Citywide Bike Plan (PDF, 10.3 MB) was approved by the Westlake Planning Commission, and identifies potential on-road and off-road routes for a citywide bicycle network. Lakewood is implementing its Bicycle Master Plan (PDF, 4.7 MB), adopted last year, by introducing a Bike Rack for Business Program and making infrastructure improvements. At the regional level, NOACA recently adopted an update to its Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan (PDF, 71.0 MB).

A local developer, a Cleveland CDC, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank collaborated in the low-cost conversion of a neglected house into a loft-style home. They are converting more houses through the Loft Home Rehabilitation Pilot Program (PDF). A Plain Dealer editorial called it "one way to make an impact in blighted neighborhoods."

Two new reports highlight the importance of the Clean Ohio program. An economic analysis conducted by the Trust for Public Land found that that the program returned $4 for every $1 invested in its land conservation portion. A second report by Greater Ohio said that the program's brownfield revitalization portion has "generated substantial direct and indirect economic impacts."

Following the successful installation of a pilot project last year in Ohio City, four additional bike boxes were placed in Cleveland neighborhoods this spring. The converted shipping containers provide safe, sheltered bike parking.

The Cleveland Foundation's most recent round of grants included $5 million to Neighborhood Progress Inc., $1 million to the Evergreen Cooperative Corporation, and $300,000 to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (all recipients (PDF)).

Construction of the new convention center in downtown Cleveland is ahead of schedule and about $10 million under budget. Officials anticipate that work will be completed by June 1. Crain's Cleveland Business published a series of articles about the project.

Update: a June 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned.

The Parma Planning Commission approved plans for Parmatown Mall's new facade and for one of six proposed outbuildings. City Council passed 18 zoning variances for the construction of the outbuildings. The renovated mall will be renamed The Shoppes at Parma.

Cool Cleveland columnist Mansfield Frazier said that land-use decisions in Cleveland's east side neighborhoods haven't benefited their African-American residents, and followed up with an interview with Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt about the equity issues surrounding the planned Opportunity Corridor. The corridor is one of several local projects competing for funding from the new Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.

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