FirstEnergy announced plans to shut down its coal-fired Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County and Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland this September, nearly a year ahead of schedule. In Lorain County, NRG Energy revealed plans last year to convert its Avon Lake Generating Station from coal to natural gas.
14 March 2014
The U.S. EPA's national Toxics Release Inventory reported that disposal or other releases of toxic chemicals decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2012. In Ohio, releases fell by 21%, from 149 million pounds in 2011 to 117 million pounds in 2012. ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel remained the largest emitters in Cuyahoga County.
In a paper conducted for Harvard University, local researchers examined post-foreclosure transactions on 38,931 houses that were acquired from financial institutions. They found that "nearly one-third experienced a negative outcome: abandonment, condemnation, demolition or tax delinquency" and that those purchased by out-of-state investors were more likely to experience a negative outcome. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the "regulatory changes identified in the study should be implemented."
The International Mountain Bike Association awarded $10,000 in planning and design services for a mountain bike park at Kerruish Park, in Cleveland's Lee-Harvard neighborhood. The matching grant will be used to prepare a conceptual site plan and report for the proposed bike park.
Westlake City Council passed a package of ordinances that advance the construction of American Greetings' planned headquarters building at Crocker Park. The approved legislation includes a 30-year TIF, a 15-year income tax credit, issuance of additional bonds to fund public improvements, and authorization for the mayor to sign a development agreement. Stark Enterprises also plans to build more apartments and retail space at Crocker Park. The new construction will be supported by bonds from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.
The former Cuyahoga County Administration Building in downtown Cleveland has been razed. A 600-room convention center hotel will be built on the site, and the new County headquarters building at the former Ameritrust complex is scheduled to open in July. County offices formerly in the building relocated to temporary locations last fall. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt has written extensively about the plans for the new 30-story hotel (PDF).
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency allocated $49.5 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds to 11 counties with established land banks. The Cuyahoga Land Bank received $10.1 million. Last year, the state obtained permission from the U.S. Treasury Department to use a portion of the foreclosure-prevention funding to demolish blighted properties. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a smart investment in stabilizing neighborhoods."
Meanwhile, the Ohio Attorney General's office awarded an additional $3.8 million from the 2012 national mortgage settlement to support demolition programs in 87 counties. Cuyahoga County received $602,202. Counties must use the funding by the end of September.
In his final State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said that he "directed [his] staff to find an additional $50 million in bonding capacity to fund the most sweeping effort to not just demolish, but to demolish, protect, and restore our neighborhoods."
In addition, an Ohio coalition is seeking $200 million from a $13 billion federal mortgage-fraud settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase. The proposed Ohio Plan (PDF) would use $144 million to support demolition programs. A Plain Dealer editorial concluded that it "may be a long shot, but it's a shot."
The overhaul of the Shoppes at Parma, formerly Parmatown Mall, began in earnest with the demolition of the 305,000-square-foot former Macy's store. The upgrades include the construction of a new, larger Dick's Sporting Goods store, an expansion of the Walmart store, and the construction of six outbuildings. Mall owner Phillips Edison & Company (PDF) intends to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Cleveland.com looked back at the history of the mall and considered what may lie ahead.
24 February 2014
The City of Cleveland introduced an updated bikeway plan. It calls for adding 70 miles of bike lanes, paths, and sharrows by the end of 2017, expanding upon the current 47.5 miles. The plan does not specify the types of bicycle enhancements for the new routes.
Steven Litt of The Plain Dealer said that the expanded system "would be a vast improvement over the current patchwork" but that more is needed to "create the comprehensive citywide grid needed for a complete network of bike paths." A Plain Dealer editorial said that safety should be the top consideration when implementing the plan. At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz urged City officials to create protected bike lanes. Bike Cleveland called it "an exciting plan".
In addition, a feasibility analysis for a bike sharing program in Cleveland found that the City could support between 77 and 140 stations with between 770 and 1,400 bicycles. It calls for a dual-core system focused on downtown and University Circle, with additional stations in Midtown, Ohio City, and Tremont. Marc Lefkowitz said that Cleveland now needs "someone entrepreneurial who wants to start up a business that manages bike share."
In its recommendation to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA identified Cuyahoga County as a nonattainment area under 2012 federal fine particle pollution standards. Other Greater Cleveland counties that formerly were in nonattainment status now meet the standards. When the designation becomes effective, Ohio will have three years to implement strategies to bring the area into compliance. The final federal decision is expected by August 14. Last year, NOACA published an overview of Northeast Ohio air quality trends (PDF).
Placemaking in Legacy Cities, a report prepared for the Center for Community Progress, uses case studies in four cities to illustrate placemaking's potential in older industrial centers. The report explores how Buffalo, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have employed placemaking strategies in four different settings: downtowns, anchor districts, neighborhoods, and corridors.
In a paper they prepared for Ohio City Incorporated, Richey Piiparinen and Jim Russell said that Cleveland has suffered from a lack of demographic churn. Their research found that Greater Cleveland's outmigration rate was normal, but its inmigration rate was well below average. They also said the way population is growing in downtown Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods presents an opportunity to "position the city to be a model in the development of the equitable, integrated neighborhood." In The Plain Dealer, an editorial called for "more collaborative and comprehensive private-public effort", and Piiparinen summarized his recommendations in an op-ed.
09 February 2014
The Cleveland Restoration Society, Cuyahoga County, and First Federal Lakewood partnered to expand the Heritage Home Purchase Program. The program, which began in South Euclid, offers assistance to potential homeowners in purchasing and rehabilitating houses built at least 50 years ago. Participants receive a home purchase loan, a home improvement loan, plus free technical assistance from the Restoration Society.
For the third consecutive year, RTA bus and train ridership increased in 2013. The transit system provided 49.2 million rides, an increase of 2% over 2012 levels. The HealthLine and Red Line saw the greatest growth in ridership. RTA was also among the national leaders in ridership growth for the third quarter of 2013.
Scene explored the variety of challenges facing community development corporations across Cleveland's neighborhoods, and the different strategies they employ to improve their communities.
Update: Fresh Water also looked at their range of approaches.
The latest state capital budget includes funding for community projects. The Greater Cleveland Partnership recommended nine projects for state funding, requesting a total of $20.3 million. The largest item on the list is $7 million for a lakefront access project in downtown Cleveland. The City has unsuccessfully sought federal TIGER funding for the project in the past.
Update: at Rust Wire, Angie Schmitt criticized the organization's role in influencing regional infrastructure decisions.
After several years of work, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium released its vision document for the 12-county Northeast Ohio region. The vision makes nine recommendations for improving the future of the region, and identifies 41 initiatives for implementing them. The NEOSCC is collecting signatures from supporters of the vision, and its board is scheduled to vote on the vision's adoption at a February 25 meeting. Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake called it "a path forward that amplifies the good things about our communities."
The Ohio Department of Transportation began demolition of the closed 1959 Innerbelt Bridge, and announced that its removal will include an explosive demolition late this spring or early this summer.
Last year, ODOT selected a team to remove the existing bridge and build the second new Innerbelt Bridge in its place. This $273 million phase of construction is scheduled for completion in fall 2016. Other Innerbelt reconstruction projects remain more than a decade away.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency awarded $998,000 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants. Of the 29 planning studies submitted for consideration, NOACA selected 13 for funding, including nine in Cuyahoga County. The largest award, $118,000, went to support the Eastside Greenway initiative. Other awards went to studies in Collinwood/Euclid, Parma Heights, and Rocky River. NOACA staff also will provide technical assistance for six transportation studies in five Cuyahoga County cities.
A report prepared for (PDF) University Circle Inc. and the City of Cleveland Heights made recommendations for improving bicycle and public transit connections within and between University Circle and Cleveland Heights. The TLCI-funded report identified concepts for potential bicycle facilities and opportunities for changes and enhancements to transit service. Last year, the two cities partnered to add a bicycle lane on Edgehill Road.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed open-lake disposal of dredged sediments from the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie. Currently, dredged material is placed in confined disposal facilities. The Ohio EPA does not feel that the sediment quality will meet the open water placement criteria, and hopes to hold a public hearing in March. A Plain Dealer editorial called the proposal an "affront to environmental stewardship."
Mayor DeGeeter of Parma established a 15-member Town Center Task Force. The group is charged with developing recommendations (PDF) for the area around the intersection of Ridge Road and West Ridgewood Drive. Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Executive Director Glenn Coyne is serving as its facilitator.
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress awarded $340,000 to nine community development corporations in Cleveland for greenspace improvement projects. The selected projects (PDF) will convert vacant lots into usable green spaces this year. Funding was provided by Wells Fargo, as part of their 2012 fair housing settlement.
22 August 2013
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)).
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."
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.
12 August 2013
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.
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."
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.
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.
18 July 2013
ArtPlace America awarded $15.2 million in grants to 54 projects in the U.S., including $375,000 to support the UrbanUpcycle program in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. The new program uses an arts-based approach to creative placemaking, and is part of an effort to emphasize upcycling as a community reinvestment strategy. The Collinwood Rising project received an ArtPlace grant last year.
Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examined urban decline in Rust Belt cities, and included a closer exploration of the changes in Greater Cleveland. Another report from the Federal Reserve Bank offered an analysis of housing policy "areas that merit careful consideration in Ohio" and "identified some opportunities for Ohio to improve its ability to deal with foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties."
The federally-funded Wildwood Lacustrine Refuge Stream and Wetland Restoration Project in Cleveland is in its final stages. The Euclid Creek Watershed Program Partners planned a July 10 celebration, but it was rescheduled due to inclement weather, and will now be a part of the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District's annual Conservation Day on September 21.
For the first time, the League of American Bicyclists included Cleveland in its list (PDF) of Bicycle Friendly Communities, awarding the city a bronze-level designation. Bike Cleveland's Jacob VanSickle celebrated the announcement, but noted that much work remains. Marc Lefkowitz said that "Cleveland needs to 'name and claim' bike progress." Meanwhile, the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy produced a video about how "Cleveland is riding the bike boom all the way back to prosperity."
Update: the League of American Bicyclists published a community feedback report for Cleveland.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald proposed investing $7 million from the County's Casino Revenue Development Fund to support three downtown Cleveland projects. He recommended supplying $4 million for planned Playhouse Square improvements, $1.5 million for the second phase of the Flats east bank project, and $1.5 million for the residential conversion of the East Ohio Building. County council approved the two latter proposals.
The NOACA Governing Board adopted Connections+ 2035, the five-county agency's long-range transportation plan. It "proposes $9 billion in major transportation investments to meet the needs of the traveling public" and emphasizes the need to maintain the region's existing transportation infrastructure. The previous plan was approved in 2009.
With the completion of the Ernst & Young Tower at the Flats east bank project, Crain's Cleveland Business looked at the potential for more office tower construction in downtown Cleveland.
Developer Andrew Brickman of Abode changed his plans for redeveloping the Mandley-Vetrovsky Funeral Home property in Fairview Park, dropping his proposal for townhouses and proposing a new 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot office building. The concept requires approval from the Cleveland Metroparks, who control an easement on the property. A residential-to-office rezoning is also needed, which voters will decide in November.
The renovation of Victory Center (formerly the Victory Building and the Arts Building) in Midtown is scheduled to be finished this month. The 150,000 square-foot building at 7012 Euclid Avenue is being marketed to biomedical and technology companies. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA declared that brownfield remediation was completed at the adjacent 2.16-acre 7000 Euclid Avenue site.