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August 2013 Archives

Four projects in Cleveland and one in Chagrin Falls received awards in the 10th round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. In Cleveland, the Fairmont Creamery redevelopment received a $3.12 million tax credit; the final phase of the St. Luke's Hospital redevelopment received a $506,600 tax credit; and residential conversions of two adjacent buildings on Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland, the Starr Gennett Building and 1220 Huron, received tax credits of $422,001 and $3.55 million, respectively. The Spillway project in Chagrin Falls received a $1.65 million tax credit.

The Avon Lake Municipal Utilities are preparing an agreement for supplying water to the City of Westlake. City leaders want to transfer away from the Cleveland Water Department.

The Cleveland Institute of Art broke ground on the $33.5 million second phase of the expansion and renovation of its Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts in University Circle. The four-story, 79,000-square-foot addition will allow the college to unify its campus in a single location. Work is scheduled to be completed in fall 2015.

Developers have resumed the $50 million renovation of downtown Cleveland's Schofield Building. The 14-story building at East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue will become a 122-room Kimpton hotel and 55 luxury apartments. They expect to complete the project by the end of 2014.

An Ohio State University professor received a $909,200 grant from the National Science Foundation to study 64 vacant lots in eight Cleveland neighborhoods.

Regenerating America's Legacy Cities, a policy report by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, explores the challenges to redeveloping America's older industrial cities. It examines 18 selected cities, including Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown. It urges the cities to avoid 'silver bullet' ideas and advocates for a framework they call 'strategic incrementalism'.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Cleveland Metroparks will have tax levies on the November ballot in Cuyahoga County. The Port Authority's board of directors voted to place a 0.13-mill renewal issue on the ballot. Voters rejected a 0.67-mill levy last year. The Plain Dealer published an op-ed by Ed FitzGerald and Frank Jackson in support of the issue, and another by Jack Boyle and Jim Trutko in opposition.

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners voted to place a 2.7-mill levy on the ballot, a 1.8-mill renewal and a 0.9-mill increase. The Metroparks' last levy request was in 2004. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman recently spoke about the parks at the City Club (video, audio (MP3, 51.5 MB)).

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will also have a renewal levy on the November ballot.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count report showed that poverty remains an issue for Ohio's children. In 2011, 24% of Ohio children lived in poverty, up from 19% in 2005.

The $7.7 million reconstruction of Fleet Avenue in Cleveland includes $1 million in green infrastructure improvements. The complete and green street will feature bike lanes, tree plantings, bioswales, and pocket parks.

Members of Northeast Ohio's congressional delegation, including Senators Brown and Portman, are urging state leaders to seek a waiver for diverting federal foreclosure-prevention funds to support housing demolition programs. Federal officials approved a similar request in Michigan. Some housing housing counselors and foreclosure-prevention officials object to the proposal. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "smart public policy."

As Ohio communities try to meet an end-of-year deadline to spend state housing demolition funds, some Cleveland councilmen are calling for an approach that includes saving houses with 'good bones'. In a pair of Plain Dealer op-eds, Councilman Jeffrey Johnson advocated for rehabilitation and Jim Rokakis made the case for demolition. He also spoke about demolition efforts on the public radio program Here & Now. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Sandra Pianalto wrote about the "need to focus on the demand side of the market."

Update: the U.S. Treasury Department approved the diversion of $60 million from Ohio's remaining $375 million of Hardest Hit Funds to demolition programs.

The increasing number of bicyclists in Greater Cleveland is creating tension between divers and cyclists. Bike Cleveland launched a public awareness campaign intended to improve motorist awareness of cyclists. Participants in a recent edition of The Regina Brett Show discussed the issues, and NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci promoted sustainable transportation alternatives in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

Meanwhile, Angie Schmitt of Rust Wire criticized the City of Cleveland for the way it implemented its complete streets policy on downtown's Ontario Street. A local coalition developed an alternative, the Ontario Street Bikeway plan, that would add bike lanes to the street. Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake also considered the reasons why the region hasn't built a second bus rapid transit line.

A ribbon-cutting celebration for the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek was held in June. The 18,000-square-foot building "is dedicated to promoting healthy urban watersheds through science, education, research and restoration", and was developed through a partnership between the Cleveland Metroparks, NEORSD and the West Creek Conservancy (formerly the West Creek Preservation Committee). They anticipate it will receive a LEED Gold rating. The facility in Parma is open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., free of charge.

Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Asian Americans were the country's fastest-growing ethnic group in 2012. The estimates also showed that for the first time, more white Americans are dying than being born, and that the nation is poised to become a minority majority country by 2050, sooner than predicted. Asian Americans were also the fastest-growing ethnic group in Ohio.

Local officials celebrated the ribbon-cutting for the new Cleveland Convention Center in mid-June. Shortly after opening, it hosted the 2013 National Senior Games. The attached Global Center for Health Innovation (formerly known as the Medical Mart) is scheduled to open in October. Steven Litt said that the two buildings "project an image of Cleveland as a city able to complete large projects in a timely, efficient manner." Project managers discussed the development on WCPN's The Sound of Ideas.

Management of the former Cleveland Lakefront State Park was formally transferred to the Cleveland Metroparks. Edgewater Park, Gordon Park, and the East 55th Street Marina formed the Metroparks' new Lakefront Reservation, while Euclid Beach Park, Villa Angela Park, and Wildwood Park became part of Euclid Creek Reservation. The City of Cleveland continues to own the parks, leasing them to the Metroparks at $1 per year for 99 years. Visitors have noticed improvements in the condition of Edgewater Park.

Update: Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman outlined his vision for the lakefront parks.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced that they would work together to implement plans for downtown Cleveland development. The $350 million investment includes a 600-to-700-room hotel on the site of the County Administration Building at Lakeside Avenue and Ontario Street. The $260 million hotel would be attached to the new convention center. The action plan also includes implementation of plans for Public Square and the Malls, plus the construction of a lakefront connector bridge and a parking garage.

Seventeen architecture firms responded to Cuyahoga County's request for qualifications, and a committee recommended that Cooper Carry of Atlanta should design the hotel. Representatives of the firm were in Cleveland on August 8, where they gathered input from residents at a public forum.

Steven Litt said that "Cleveland finally seems to be getting the message" about the importance of vital public spaces, and said that the City should establish a set of urban design guidelines to preserve and enhance downtown views. He also said that the hotel represents "one of the most important design challenges in Cleveland in many years." In Crain's Cleveland Business, Jay Miller said that the partnership's success "will depend on continuing cooperation between city and county government," Stan Bullard compiled reactions from hotel operators, and Brian Tucker said that the new hotel must be more than "another lifeless rectangular box in our skyline." A Plain Dealer editorial praised the plans, while Roldo Bartimole denounced them.

A new Shaker Heights bicycle advocacy group met for the first time in June. Members of Bike Shaker will educate about the benefits of cycling and work with City officials to improve bicycling infrastructure. They hope to see the city named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

In its second annual ParkScore index, the Trust for Public Land rated the park systems of the nation's 50 largest cities. It gave the City of Cleveland a score of 50/100, the 25th-highest ranking. The top-ranked cities were Minneapolis and New York. Fresno and Louisville received the lowest scores. Cleveland was not included in last year's rankings.

Writing in The Huffington Post, Richey Piiparinen described how abandonment has harmed communities like Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. In The Plain Dealer, he criticized Cleveland's emphasis on play and image as economic development strategies. At Cool Cleveland, he said that authenticity and distinctiveness are good ways to attract in-migration.

A planning study identified (PDF, 13.5 MB) a site near the Ohio City Red Line rapid station for a potential transit-oriented development. The Market Plaza shopping center at West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue could be replaced by a mixed-use building with as many as 244 residential units. The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the concept.

Ideastream hosted conversations about waterfront plans in Cleveland, discussing the issues on The Sound of Ideas, and continuing with a Cleveland Connects community conversation. The keynote speaker at the Cleveland Connects event was Lisa Schroeder of Riverlife in Pittsburgh. Participants discussed the opportunities and potential for lakefront development.

The City of Cleveland, meanwhile, unveiled plans for a new transient marina at North Coast Harbor. It's scheduled to open this fall. The City also issued a request for qualifications for developers interested in managing and financing development at Harbor West and North Coast Harbor.

For the third consecutive year, Preservation Ohio's list of the state's most endangered historic sites included the Warner and Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland.

Ohio legislators may again extend the Ohio Enterprise Zone Program. Critics of the program say that it no longer functions as intended and that it should be redesigned.

Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic are partnering to build a medical education building on the hospital's main campus in Fairfax. The 165,000-square-foot building will be at the northeast corner of East 93rd Street and Euclid Avenue, currently the site of the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse. Foster + Partners of London is designing the $80 million building. It's scheduled to open in 2016. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a praiseworthy collaboration."

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent Stan Austin was promoted to director of the National Park Service's Southeast Region. Cheryl Schreier from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is serving as acting superintendent.

The Greater Cleveland RTA resumed weekday Waterfront Line service on May 30. It had been eliminated in the agency's 2008 cutbacks, but the opening of the Flats east bank development prompted the service expansion. RTA also refreshed two of the Waterfront Line stations.

The reforestation process is underway at the Cleveland Metroparks' new Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst. It may take 40 years for the 155-acre park to mature. A Sun News editorial called it "exactly the best outcome for the Acacia property."

The U.S. Census Bureau published its annual population estimates for incorporated places, covering the period between July 2011 and July 2012. The data showed that the nation's large cities grew faster than their suburbs for the second consecutive year and experienced accelerated growth rates. The figures also showed that the fastest-growing large cities were in the South and West.

All of Ohio's major cities, with the exception of Columbus, lost population between 2011 and 2012. Cleveland's estimated population fell from 392,694 to 390,928, a 0.4% decrease. Figures for all Cuyahoga County communities are available.

Amy Brennan, Reid Coffman, and Ron Wyss participated in a City Club panel discussion on stormwater issues (MP3, 61.3 MB). The conversation was moderated by NEORSD's Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, who also answered Fresh Water's questions about the agency's stormwater management program.

Enterprise Community Partners awarded a $40,000 grant to Burten, Bell, Carr for its Kinsman EcoDistricts and another $40,000 grant to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation to support its Cleveland EcoVillage. They also helped secure funding for the City of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability.

In their new book, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, co-authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube "paint a new picture of poverty in America as well as the best ways to combat it." The book explores the reasons behind the growth of suburban poverty in the United States and offers examples of promising policy models to address the issue. Their research presents profiles of metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland (PDF), and they highlight the challenges facing the City of Lakewood. Meanwhile, the Urban Institute posted a mapping tool that displays changes in poverty and race in metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2010.

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