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Pete

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  1. Construction on the steel sheet pile bulkhead will begin in November/December and run through April. Upon completion of the bulkhead, the boardwalk construction will begin. The boardwalk should be completed by the end of summer.
  2. Jerry: What's up with the escalator at the W. Blvd Redline station? It has been inoperable and blocked off for a quite a while now. Closing it causes people to miss their ride because the stairs are only wide enough for people to move in one direction at a time. Can the RTA at least open the escalator for use as stairs regardless of whether it moves? Thanks.
  3. If he returns the money, Kasich & Kucinich will have something in common: returning a huge sum of federal funds for a rail project (the Urban Mass Transportation Administration People Mover and Ohio 3-C). Maybe somebody should tell Kasich that liberal Rep. Kucinich is anti-rail and that being anti-rail is a liberal ideal?
  4. Litt's philosophy is basically that the further from Cleveland, the better the architect. He likes Gwathmey but can only tolerate LBBJ because they are from New York versus Ohio. He didn't like the old building, because the architect was local. And he loves the fact that an architecture firm from Norway that is designing a building at BGSU. The merits of the buildings themselves don't always matter to him. He should ask does it function well, provide ammenities that students want, fit into the context of it's surroundings, was it within budget/schedule, etc. But instead it's more important to him that a famous name from somewhere else designed it.
  5. The renderings for Options A & C show only the westbound bridge, a condiiton that will never really happen except during construction of the eastbound bridge several years later. Option B at least gives the general public some idea of what their bridge will actually look like, both with the existing truss (the immediate condition) and with a future twin (the long term condition). The perspectives of these renderings are all pretty bad. What will it look like while driving on it? What will it look like from Progressive Field? From the Lorain Carnegie? ODOT asked for specific renderings, so apparantly they only asked for mid-span perspectives. The reason that this bridge looks unimaginable in all three proposals is pretty simple. ODOT's technical scoring criteria is available here: (http://www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D12/Deputy%20Director/News/Pages/EvaluationBeginsonProposalstoBuildNewInnerbeltBridge.aspx). Bridge aesthetics is worth 5 of 105 possible points. Proposed Design is also worth 30 points, but may take into account dozens of other items, such as maintenance of traffic during construction, impact on the design to future maintenance, etc. So Bridge Aesthetics is worth less than 5% of the technical proposal. But then the technical proposal is merged with the cost proposal, weighted at 30% and 70%, respectively so the result is that Bridge Aesthetics is worth less than 2% of the total score. So if one team scores a 5 (unlikely) and another scores a 0 (also unlikely) the difference is less than 2% of the total score.
  6. Living on campus is not necessarily more expensive. Living on campus means that you don't need to purchase a car, auto insurance, or gasoline and you can get anywhere you want for $25 via the U-Pass. To buy a $10,000 car, throw in gas and insurance, and it will cost somewhere in the $15,000 to $25,000 range for 4 years of school (assuming gas doesn't go back up to $4+. I wish CSU would build more dormitories versus more parking garages.
  7. Shortly after Jackson was elected, I heard Ken Silliman (Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson's Chief of Staff) say that Frank supports annexing East Cleveland, however, Cleveland will not initiate the annexation. East Cleveland voters/gov't have to initiate the process. Jackson isn't much of a go-getter and East Cleveland officials are so dysfunctional that it'd take a miracle for annexation to happen.
  8. Do these "experts" recommending Tower City shop or dine at Tower City? I'm pretty sure their answer to this question would be the same as most Clevelanders: "No. Tower City sucks." But yet they recommend it for others. Tower City is a beautiful monument, but as shopping mall retail goes, it does kind of suck to people who knew how great it used to be. It's a better market for Dunkin' Donuts than for Coach. I cannot see how a TC connection to McDonalds and the Renaissance is really that much better than a Mall connection to Public Auditorium and the Marriott.
  9. Is there a feasible market for this building, as a theater? Shaker Square and the Cedar Lee are stiff competition within the market area, and the theater at Coventry has gone through several iterations, seemingly struggling to make a go of it. The Play House and university theaters probably don't leave much market for a live theater. The neighborhood might want to consider restoring the facade to its' former glory but demolishing the rest of the building and constructing a parking garage, disguised from the street as a theater with vehicular access from the alley at the back. I have no idea if the theater is worth saving/restoring or not. A new Mayfield RTA station will be great, but the neighborhood businesses would do much better with more plentiful parking available. This building is long and narrow, tucked up closely to other buildings. There is little opportunity to provide decent views, so a residential or office conversion might not have a lot of selling points. Reliable parking is quite possibly the limiting factor to neighborhood growth in Little Italy, both from a commercial and residential standpoint. Without the reliable, convenient (yet somewhat hidden) parking decks, Coventry & Cedar Fairmount would not be what they are today. A parking garage is probably a more reliable way to pay for itself than a theater restoration. The conversion to a parking deck could help reinvigorate the rest of the neighborhood - potentially a palatable trade off.
  10. MRN (E 4th developer/owner) despite doing great things to this street is one of the worst property owners downtown at shoveling their sidewalks. E. 4th itself is not a problem but once you turn the corner onto Euclid or Prospect and it's always a sheet of ice but its free of snow/ice at Colonial Marketplace, BP or 515. It's almost like they are trying to force people to use the valet when they drive in for dinner. Can the city make them shovel/salt? Why don't they have enough respect for patrons and tenants to shovel the dang sidewalk? The coffee shop is starting to look like a coffee shop, but you'd better not get it to go or you'll slip on your @$$!
  11. I like what RTA, University Circle, and the City have come up with here. I am curious about a couple of things. First, this tangle of streets, transit stations, the BioEnterprise Building, and the railroad run right through the middle of the underlying asset that makes University Circle so great - the park! This whole mess goes right over the culverted Doan Brook. It feels like the southern boundary of the park lies at Carnegie. But jump to the other side of the railroad tracks (which have been there as long as the park) and Ambler Park runs all the way to the Shaker Lakes through a deep and surprisingly scenic valley where one can actually see the Doan Brook, a forest, deer, an ugly dam, old stone quarries, old stone formations, and even a waterfall. This is true greenspace, albeit somehow nearly forgotten and desolate. Cleveland owns Ambler Park but much of it is in Cleveland Heights & Shaker Heights. Access to the park is very poor at best. Now would be a great time for University Circle to consider the extension of the multipurpose path that ends at Carnegie. Since park paths are out of the scope of what RTA does, UCI could provide funds for a direct crossing for walkers/joggers/bikers and provide a nice pathway along MLK and under the RR bridges to reunite these two sections of park. There should be a continuous path from the Shaker Lakes to Lake Erie. Even though the parks have been there since the late 1800s, somehow we've never found a way to connect these huge greenspaces separated by a mere 300 yards. Now IS the time to do it. RTA's slides don't address this linkage at all, but it could be accommodated. Second, any thoughts on how RTA will lessen the "get me out of here" feeling that comes along with walking underneath dirty old railroad bridges? Painting a mural on the wall is just not enough. They better have a lot of bright lights, not those dingy orange tinted things, and they better be prepared to clean the sidewalks sometimes. RTA's track record is bad: walking under the tracks adjacent to the Euclid/E. 120th Station in the middle of the day is disgusting and somewhat scary, and in its' current state this one at Cedar is pretty bad too. Hopefully, there will be quality under-bridge pedestrian treatments used here that can be used for the above mentioned underpass to connect the parks at MLK just to the south of the Cedar Station. Last, what are the plans for the old transit loop, labeled on slide 11 of the RTA presentation as "open space"? It isn't very accessible and will lie sandwiched between wide streets and the RR tracks.
  12. The biggest problem with the Tower City site is Forest City and the image of corruption that they have garnered. Forest City is so active donating to politicians that it is difficult, even for our less-than-clean commissioners, to back a site that provides vast monetary advantage to one company/land owner versus another site that will likely benefit dozens of surrounding property owners plus rehabilitating a city landmark. The Marriott is across the street and the Sheraton and Hyatt are a mere block away from the mall. Recommendations have included a major hotel connected to the CC, so that will be 4 hotels within a block. And the "connectivity" of an airport RTA link is almost a moot point because it is very unlikely that people staying at the Ritz or Renaissance will take public transportation to save $10 versus a cab when their company is providing them with a $200+ per night luxury hotel room. The summary of statements of the guy from Twinsburg given in the PD has a lot of holes. The political influence Forest City wields is not just local matter either. Remember Bill Richardson? He was just nominated for Commerce Secretary by Obama but withdrew the nomination since the FBI is investigating him for giving favors to a large donor (not Forest City). Richardson changed a New Mexico state law to allow Forest City to purchase 3,000 acres in Albuquerque from the state for a mere $3,000 per acre (and $290,000 in campaign contributions from Forest City and the controlling family). This recent NY Times article explains the situation and casts a shadow of corruption onto Forest City's dealing with Richardson. It's not hard to imagine Forest City being implicated with a politician under FBI investigation for taking bribes in the form of campaign donations. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/us/11newmexico.html?ref=politics&pagewanted=all This matters because Forest City donates to nearly every local politician. They do not want to develop Scranton Peninsula. They have not proposed putting up any of their own cash for this project, and they probably can't even afford to borrow to do so now. The Tower City site isn't altogether bad. But it isn't clearly better to a such a degree to overcome the "corruption" image that Forest City brings with it that the commissioners desperately need to avoid.
  13. Musky, I hate to tell something that you probably already know, but CSU still owns Fenn Tower. The University and developer struck an agreement (i.e. formed a partnership) and the developer turned Fenn into a dormitory. The University didn't run the construction or operations, but they obviously have had some input into the project. This past agreement is a similar type of partnership with a private developer that will be/has been formed for future residential construction on campus. Thus CSU and a private company are partners in building more housing on campus on land that CSU owns, but the developer will build run the project. American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) (they may have done Fenn) is one of the largest campus housing companies. Their stock has lost more than half of its' value in the last 3 months despite only moderate losses. Encouraging future demographic trends aren't enough to overcome the lack of investor confidence in campus housing, much like the broader market. In the current economic climate, when you are highly leveraged as real estate companies tend to be, banks are less than eager to lend. Significantly more capital is required for financing than two years ago. Schwartz has done a phenomenal job and hopefully his successor will make sure that projects such as this continue but don't expect to hear about secured financing any time soon. They've got some time before the bookstore moves anyway, so hopefully lenders will resume "normal lending" by then.
  14. A source told me that the ability to finance this project does not exist right now because it's not available with the university's bonds or with the private sector developers the university was counting on. It's not being tabled, but "normal" lending will need to resume to start construction. CSU needs a private partner/developer to do this project because the university is not able to access additional credit (maxed out on bonds from building rec center/ student center/ several parking garages, etc.). Also, that siding looks dreadful. Once funding is available, pray for a spike in vinyl and aluminum prices!
  15. My point is that I would not rent from a slumlord and expect that they are somehow going to change their ways. If the owner showed an effort to clean up their property, then they might be worth doing business with. As they conduct themselves right now, I would not do business with them. Since this building has one of the highest vacancy rates in the CBD, most companies agree and have therefore chosen to rent space from one of the dozens of more reputable landlords downtown. I admire your vision MTS, and if the landlord conducted their business in a more professional manner this could be a fine spot for a restaurant or other first floor retail. Now, if I were to own this building (and attached garage with a footprint 2x the tower) I would be exploring all options to convert this building to residential use. The building needs a new life and a new function. Other low occupancy buildings (Rockefeller, Galleria) are treated with far greater respect and kept clean, so these guys could do it too. One of the reasons for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance is its' "Clean" program. These guys powerwash sidewalks, clean trash, etc. that most landlords do on their own. But the downtown property owners were willing to charge themselves an additional fee to pay for providing these services around other buildings (like East Ohio) that don't do these things and have a negative impact on the greater community. Someday EOG will be worth investing in from a tenant's perspective, but it needs some investment, or at least commitment to investment, from the landlord first.
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