Cleveland City Planning Commission notes 2012.02.17 – No, you May not park there !

Quote of the Meeting: “I didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night” – Coyne.

(My comments in Italics)

In attendance: Special K, Pinkney, Coyne, Bowen, Lumpkin, Cleveland, Brown.

Surprisingly, the meeting started on time.

This Week’s agenda: http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/designreview/drcagenda/2012/02172012/index.php

Here’s a couple of the highlights:

  • Dow’s rezoning plan:

Councilman Dow was sponsoring because he had recently made a comprehensive rezoning plan for the neighborhood(s) of Ward 7, (that map, courtesy of Cleveland GIS, the official GIS site of the City of Cleveland).. He wasn’t there to present it (and I forgot who did on his behalf, something I should have noted, so I’ll refer to them as ‘the rep’ here), it was supported by the city of Cleveland planning staff.

The rezoning’s Purpose was “to prevent nuisance-type retail from popping up”; the rep also said the few retail outlets that were there are ‘bad neighbors’ and ‘nuisances’ to the neighborhood.

One resident in attendance spoke up against the rezoning changes as the change to multi-family rezoning would encourage ‘riff-raff’ to the neighborhood.

Councilman Dow works with the Famicos Foundation and the St. Clair CDC in his Ward 7. (Here’s a map of Ward 7, courtesy of Cleveland GIS, the official GIS site of the City of Cleveland). Neither organization had made any statement of their position of the zoning changes to the CPC.

(My hunch is that there’s someone or something else that is supporting this.)(Why else did Dow come up with a comprehensive rezoning-plan for the neighborhood if the city already has a master zoning plan ?! He doesn’t have anywhere else to spend his time ? Was it driven by constituents ? I wonder when the city’s zoning plan was last updated)

Decision: Approval, on the condition that the CPC receives letters of support from Famicos and St. Clair CDC; and 603-11 specifically was approved on the that none of the changes conflicts with the master zoning plan. (typing from my notes, I don’t understand why only 603-11 was singled out that these zoning changes could conflict with master zoning plan).

  • New parking garage, on the southeast corner of Ontario and Carnegie. Built for Tri-C… Across from Progressive Field, the existing surface parking lot was a huge money maker for Tri-C. With the New Innerbelt taking out some of the land of the existing surface lot, they decided to make a multi-level parking garage. On the northwest Corner, the archetect interesting included a small concrete pedestrian ‘gathering space’ at street-level.(scalpers now have a new prime location ! )(I generally prefer downtown land to be use in ways besides parking. On the positive, this is a parking garage rather than a surface lot, so it will decrease the amount of additional parking needed. It increases supply of parking spaces available, giving less incentive to land owners to use land as parking lots)

Decision: Passed by City Planning Commission

====

  • The proposed Parking Garage in the May Company Building

Once the bastion of downtown Cleveland department store shopping, the May Company Building on Euclid (on the south side, between East 4th and Ontario) has sat dormant to the public eye for as long as I can remember.

Days before the meeting, the proposal to turn it into a parking garage received attention by local news- (Cleveland.com) and nationally at the Atlantic Cities blog.

One historical building demolished less than a year a go for parking, would another one bite the dust ?

In a nutshell, not anytime soon.

The CPC gave the strongest criticism of any project that I’ve seen covering their meetings for the past 13 months. Commission head Tony Coyne led the criticism, noted that the owner, in Florida and locally represented by Robert Zarzycki, ZM Architects, commented that the owner gave very little consideration of this building and its use and charged it as a ‘bottom-feeder approach.’ (Where was this criticism during the Columbia Building demolition?!)

Zarzycki tried to save face by noting that parking was only proposed on floors 2-5 of the 8 floors and although the building’s windows facing Euclid would be removed, the garage’s lighting would be minimally visible from the street. (Fortunately), Coyne and ‘Special K’ Norm Krumholz, weren’t buying it; Coyne replied that ‘he wasn’t born last night.’  and Norm noted it was ‘an incredibly bad land use.’ – No traffic study had been done and the archetect hastily mentioned that apartments wouldn’t work in the building because, who wants an apartment without windows (this building has 2 other buildings on its west and east sides) ?  – Coyne astutely mentioned that a light box could be added which also was done in other downtown conversions (the Bingham, National Terminal).

Decision : Rejected

Although it was rejected, the use of parking in the May Company in the future is still possible. As of now, the building is only occupied on the 6th Floor, as a ‘tech center’ (don’t know specifically what that is) and a portion of the 1st floor to a couple restaurants and bars. The architect noted that the other floors are sparse: most of its materials have been stripped and would require a bit of reinvestment before they could be used for anything.

Planning Director Brown said he wasn’t against it, although he said he wasn’t sure if the Planning Commission even has jurisdiction of over the use of the building (Me: If this is true, The fact that the CPC doesn’t have this power strikes me with only resigned surprise….), but jurisdiction over the windows and a traffic study that would need to be performed… Special K disagreed with him.

Chairman Coyne noted that if housing were a substantial part of the building in the future, he could see a floor or 2 being devoted to parking….

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