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Brownfield Conference Presentation in EPA Newsletter

Brownfield Conference Presentation in EPA Newsletter

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Euclid Avenue Corridor Redevelopment in Cleveland

Every city has a “favored quarter” with a spine that connects the downtown to the wealthiest close-in suburbs.

In Cleveland, it’s Euclid Avenue, which is being reborn for the same reason it attracted wealth in the 19th century. Euclid Avenue’s potential is comparable to that of great streets such as Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues between Dupont Circle and Bethesda, Md., in the Washington area or Peachtree Street in Atlanta from Midtown to the Buckhead neighborhood. What’s different here is that the catalyst in Cleveland is bus rapid transit, a relatively new idea in the United States. On RTA’s “Silver Line,” as it’s called, diesel-electric buses will move quickly along special lanes with coordinated lights at intersections.

The remaking of Euclid Avenue was initially a transportation project  a $197 million federally funded effort to improve a major artery and to connect downtown Cleveland to University Circle using a bus rapid transit line. However, despite a challenging financial climate, the renovation has become an economic development engine for the city. More than $3.3 billion in projects have been in the planning stages, under construction or completed near Euclid during the past two years. Much of the current redevelopment along Euclid involves federal and state tax credits to support the preservation of historic buildings.

In the early 20th century, Euclid Avenue was known as Millionaire’s Row for its concentration of wealth. As
Cleveland’s commercial district began to push eastward along Euclid Avenue, families moved east toward University Circle. The Great Depression hastened the decline with the final blow being the construction of the Inner Beltway in the 1950s, which cut through Euclid Avenue between downtown and the rail crossing at East 55th Street.

The Cuyahoga County Brownfield Program was founded in 1998 with a strategy to provide assistance and experience in returning brownfield sites to viable community and economic assets, including protecting the county’s remaining open spaces. There have been 22 county-assisted brownfield projects conducted along the Euclid corridor totaling more than $7.8 billion, including $4 million in COAF and CORF grant funding. These projects include the revamping of hotels and office spaces; industry and biomedical expansion projects; and specialty housing needs. Four sites were demonstrated to be cleaned up to VAP environmental standards and received covenants not to sue from the state:

• Baker Electric Building, 7100 Euclid Avenue;
• 4600 Euclid Avenue;
• Cuyahoga County Administration Building, 1010 Euclid Avenue; and
• E. 55th Street and Euclid Avenue.

The city has been partnering with local organizations and fellow governments to bring sites to market and develop opportunities. Its Brownfield Assessment Program partners to provide Phase I/Phase II site assessments, and additional funding for environmental or engineering complications. In 2005, the city created the Industrial-Commercial Land Bank to deliver “shovel-ready” sites for manufacturers and office users in priority economic development areas. Since fall 2008, the city has approved more than $21 million in loans through its Vacant Property Initiative, which aims to help property owners revive empty lots, vacant buildings and little-used structures. The amount of the loan is tied to job creation, and is partially forgivable to offset the costs of acquiring and modernizing the property.

The initiative allows brownfield sites to be competitive with greenfields. Properties in the Euclid corridor benefitting from the initiative include:

• Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center relocation to 11635 Euclid Ave ($800,000);
• Uptown planned mixed-use project, Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road (four loans totaling $5 million);
• Allegro Realty Advisors relocation to 1936 Euclid Ave ($500,000); and
• Proxy Biomedical Inc. U.S. headquarters at 7100 Euclid Ave ($500,000).

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SABR News Article - March 2011