30 April 2013
In the question-and-answer portion of his State of the City address, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson responded to a query about immigration by saying, "I believe in taking care of your own." He attracted criticism for Dan Moulthrop and others for his apparent anti-immigrant stance, but Mayor Jackson later issued a statement in which he said that "a Cleveland that 'takes care of its own' will ultimately attract people from all across the globe". At Cool Cleveland, Richey Piiparinen related his first-hand experiences about the power of immigration.
Soon after, members of the local business community expressed support for immigration policy reform at a Greater Cleveland Partnership forum. Some of the panelists discussed the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "increased legal immigration may be the best way" to increase the region's economic and political clout, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said "it was heartening to see the gathering in Cleveland".
The site plan for proposed retail development at West 117th Street and Clifton Boulevard in Cleveland's Edgewater neighborhood shows a suburban-style shopping strip and includes the demolition of the former Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. A neighborhood group is seeking "good urban design promoting a pedestrian-friendly plan well suited for a historic district" and the rehabilitation of the historic church.
Update: the Sun News looked at a previous attempt to redevelop the church.
Update 2: the neighborhood group offered a plan for a park on the church site. The plan calls for retaining the portico and demolishing the remainder of the building.
Plans for skywalks in downtown Cleveland remain controversial. Rock Ohio Caesars may purchase the Higbee Building in an effort to advance its plans to build a skywalk connecting the casino to its parking structure. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County leaders plan to renovate an existing skywalk that would link the County's new headquarters building to a parking garage. A group of young professionals is urging County Council to demolish the skywalk and the City to reject the casino's plan. They a released video showing the negative impacts of skywalks in Detroit. A Plain Dealer editorial also encouraged County officials to remove the skywalk. The Atlantic Cities looked at the debate, and said that "it seems like a step backward in time."
Update: Rock Ohio Caesars will buy the Higbee Building for $79 million.
Update 2: on appeal, the National Park Service upheld its earlier rejection of the casino skywalk plans.
Two sites in University Circle have the potential to attract luxury residential towers. An unidentified developer is exploring the feasibility of a 28-story, 300-unit tower at Euclid Avenue and Stokes Boulevard. In addition, the Cleveland Institute of Art's Gund Building site could be redeveloped as high-rise residential, although no plans have been presented. Charles Belson, the president of AIA Cleveland, dislikes the idea, saying that it "could be a big step in the wrong direction."
The Cities of Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland will use funds from a mortgage fraud settlement to raze distressed houses and apartments in the North Coventry neighborhood. The properties will remain as greenspace. A Sun News editorial said the effort represents "regional collaboration at its finest".
In this year's County Health Rankings, Cuyahoga County again finished in the bottom third of Ohio's 88 counties, ranking 67th in health outcomes and 45th in health factors. Geauga and Medina counties were again ranked highly. Cuyahoga County health officials are working to improve health issues through the Health Improvement Partnership. Nationally, residents of the unhealthiest counties died at more than twice the rate of those in the healthiest counties. Previous rankings: 2012, 2011, and 2010.
The Cleveland Metroparks recently acquired two wetland properties. A 26-acre site on Engle Road in Middleburg Heights is now part of the Big Creek Reservation, and the 20-acre Heron Rookery wetland along the east branch of the Rocky River in North Royalton is now part of the Mill Stream Run Reservation. Funding for the Middleburg Heights purchase came from a legal settlement, and funding for the North Royalton conservation easement was provided by the WRSSP and NRAC.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for counties and metropolitan areas. For the period between July 2011 and July 2012, population shifts returned to pre-recession patterns, with the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the South and West, and the slowest-growing in the Northeast and Midwest. The Cleveland metropolitan area was the slowest-growing large metropolitan area in the country, and Cuyahoga County's loss of 4,872 people was the nation's second-largest numeric population decline. However, the 0.38% drop in Cuyahoga County was its smallest annual decline in 15 years. Franklin County's 1.38% growth rate was the fastest in Ohio, and Geauga and Medina counties also gained population.
The proposed Eastside Greenway would connect 14 communities in eastern Cuyahoga County through a network of parks, greenspace, and trails.
18 April 2013
The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy issued the BRT Standard 2013, which was "developed to create a common definition of bus rapid transit and recognize high-quality BRT systems around the world." It certified bus rapid transit corridors as basic, bronze, silver, or gold systems. RTA's HealthLine was the highest-rated line in the United States, and the only American line to receive a silver rating.
Update: participants on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed the corridor's impacts.
The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt described how Cleveland is becoming more welcoming to bicyclists and pedestrians, noting that it "echoes a rising national trend inspired by the new popularity of urban living".
The Gund Foundation's most recent round of grants included $3.75 million for Neighborhood Progress Inc., $250,000 for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, $180,000 for the Cuyahoga Valley Conservancy, and $150,000 for the Nature Conservancy.
At a March 7 auction, Drury Hotels was the high bidder for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District headquarters building in downtown Cleveland. The $4.83 million bid was well below the anticipated $8.5 million price, but the school board voted 5-3 to accept the bid. The new hotel will offer about 180 rooms when it opens in 2015, and is one of a number of proposed downtown hotels. The School District may move its offices into the former Eaton headquarters building on Superior Avenue.
March's City Club forums included talks from Lee Fisher of CEOs for Cities and Joel Ratner of Neighborhood Progress Inc. Lee Fisher spoke about his vision for the future of cities and the forces affecting every city. He also blogged about the importance of civic disrupters. Joel Ratner spoke with the City Club audience about reinvesting in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the Old Stone Church held its annual Hope for the City speaker series, starting with planner and author Jeff Speck. He talked about his latest book and the economic, environmental, and human health advantages of walkable communities. The series continued with Ann Zoller and Gregory Peckham, Jennifer Coleman, and Anthony Coyne.
The U.S. Census Bureau used American Community Survey data to publish commuting flow information, and reported that Cuyahoga County "has among the highest number of commuters coming from another county in the nation." The Census Bureau also noted that 80.3% of Cuyahoga County workers drove to work alone in 2011, higher than the national average of 76.4%. WNYC used the data to map average commute times, and The Washington Post mapped the commuting patterns.
Slavic Village Recovery, a new private-nonprofit partnership, intends to acquire, renovate, and sell or rent 50 vacant houses in the Cleveland neighborhood in its first year. The partners hope that the project can serve as a model for other neighborhoods.
Fairview Park officials unveiled the 2013 master plan update prepared for the City by City Architecture. The plan recommends establishing a marketing program, creating a signage package, and highlighting key intersections with special crosswalks and paving.
The Ohio General Assembly passed a two-year transportation budget bill that will allow the Kasich administration to proceed with its plans to issue up to $1.5 billion in bonds backed by Ohio Turnpike revenues. The Senate version of the bill included a provision that requiring that 90% of the bond proceeds be invested within 75 miles of the turnpike, while the House bill did not. The language was retained in a conference committee. A coalition called Ohioans for Transportation Choice urged legislators to increase the state's investment in alternative transportation options, but their proposal was not incorporated into the legislation. Governor Kasich signed the $7.6 billion bill at a ceremony in Warrensville Heights on April 1. The Ohio Turnpike Commission plans to raise tolls by 2.7% per year over the next decade.
A report from the Brookings Institution says that Amtrak ridership grew by 55% between 1997 and 2012, faster than other modes of travel. The report added that nearly all of the growth was on Amtrak's short-distance routes, and that its long-distance routes accounted for 15% of travelers and 43% of operating costs in 2012. Ridership in Greater Cleveland increased by 16.2%, and the two lines that serve Cleveland, the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited, also experienced ridership growth. However, both lines operated at a loss.
24 March 2013
The Literary Lots program aims to "brings books to life" in four vacant lots in Cleveland, creating summer programming spaces for children. In August, local artists will recreate places, concepts, or adventures from selected children's books. Project partners are raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign that concludes on March 30.
RTA began studying the feasibility of extending the Red Line rail line or HealthLine BRT line beyond the current terminus in East Cleveland. Its board hired AECOM Technical Services to lead a multi-year study on the potential of extending service to Euclid. RTA is also completing plans for its new Little Italy-University Circle Rapid Station.
The Green City Growers greenhouse, the third Evergreen Cooperatives company, celebrated its grand opening on February 25. The 3.25-acre greenhouse in Cleveland's Central neighborhood is the largest urban food production greenhouse in the U.S. It will grow an estimated 3 million heads of lettuce and 300,000 pounds of herbs annually, and its 25 workers are on their way to becoming employee-owners. Stakeholders discussed the company on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.
Local entrepreneurs continue to invest in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood and its Waterloo district. They plan to make the area a destination by opening several businesses in quick succession later this year.
CEOs for Cities looked at the potential for new transit-oriented development in Greater Cleveland, and predicted that in "10-20 years from now Cleveland's rapid transit system will turn some heads while possibly serving as a TOD beacon that helps stabilize the inner city population."
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald gave his third State of the County address on February 19. In addition to highlighting his achievements, he announced that the Medical Mart in Cleveland is now named the Global Center for Health Innovation. He also called on leaders to consider staging a second Great Lakes Exposition in 2016. The speech is online as video, audio (MP3, 53.7 MB), and text (PDF). His slideshow (PPT, 15.3 MB) is also available.
A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts looked at how former public school buildings are being reused in 12 cities, including Cleveland. It found that they were most commonly reused as charter schools.
via Fresh Water
Planners in Lakewood completed their update of the City's Community Vision document. The final public meeting was held in December, and the Lakewood Planning Commission is considering the update. City Council is expected to vote on the document this spring.
Under new executive director Grace Gallucci, NOACA is developing a regional transportation strategy for the agency's five-county region, and intends to conduct an 18-month inventory of area infrastructure assets and needs. At AMATS, Director Jason Segedy is calling for prioritizing maintenance of the region's existing infrastructure over expansions of highway capacity.
West side Cleveland neighborhoods are developing plans for the area's corridors. The final public meeting for the West 65th Street Corridor Plan was held in February. Its draft recommendations (PDF) call for implementing a road diet, while making streetscape improvements and increasing bicycle and pedestrian accessibility.
Meanwhile, Ohio City Incorporated and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization are leading a streetscape improvement plan for a portion of Lorain Avenue. They're currently conducting a survey. Further west, the Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation is working to improve Lorain Avenue's streetscape, and will hold a public meeting on April 2.
Five buildings in Cleveland and three historic districts in Cuyahoga County were recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. The new listings include the East Ohio Building, the Globe Machine and Stamping Company on West 76th Street, the Kendel Building at 210 Prospect Avenue, the former Record Rendezvous building at 300 Prospect Avenue, and the Herold Building at 310 Prospect Avenue. The new historic districts are the Baldwin-Wallace College North Campus Historic District in Berea, the John Carroll University North Quad Historic District in University Heights, and the West 25th Street-Detroit Avenue Historic District in Ohio City.
HUD reached a new nine-month agreement with the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and will continue to sell low-value houses to the Land Bank for $100. Late last year, HUD announced it would end the program, but Sherrod Brown helped facilitate its extension. Christopher Evans of The Plain Dealer visited a distressed HUD-owned house in Cleveland to highlight the importance of the partnership.
The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals operate adjacent facilities near East 185th Street and Lake Shore Boulevard in Euclid. Some Cleveland leaders asked University Hospitals to sell its Euclid Heath Center to the Clinic, which operates the landlocked Euclid Hospital. University Hospitals does not intend to sell its property, and plans to replace its existing facility with a new medical office building.
Update: construction of the new University Hospitals building is scheduled to begin in June.
A report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University examined the mobility of young and middle-age adults in Greater Cleveland. It concluded that the young adult population has grown in Cleveland's inner core, some second-tier neighborhoods in Cleveland, and in certain inner-ring suburbs. The Plain Dealer used the research as the basis of a January article, and the paper's Brent Larkin discussed it in the context of population decline.
27 February 2013
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.
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.
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.
13 February 2013
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.
06 February 2013
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.
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.
Planning and development news for the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area