MART SITE DOESN'T ANSWER - SHOULD THERE BE ONE

Submitted by Roldo on Sun, 02/01/2009 - 13:08.

Steve Litt provides a good look at the mall site as the proper one for a medical mart and convention center in today’s Plain Dealer. http://blog.cleveland.com/architecture/2009/01/chosen_medical_mart_site_... It’s a good argument for where the project should be. However, it doesn’t address really – as no one has - whether we need this project or whether it is worth the price it will cost. Now County Commissioner Tim Hagan - and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the prime mover for this $1-BILLION project – has told us that the cost at the mall is $108 million cheaper than the Tower City site. That site was chosen by the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), a private government entity controlled total by our corporate community. I find this hard to believe. One reason is that the GCP site at Tower City called for the Medical Mart to be located in the under-used – and already there – Higbee building. When I asked Fred Nance at the press conference he ran for the GCP rollout of the Tower City site, how much space would the Medical Mart take in the Higbee building, his answer was the first and second floors, but not all of it. Now, we have the new Mall site project calling for a NEW four-story Medical Mart to be built on private land, which has to be bought. How that doesn’t raise the cost significantly above moving into two floors of the Higbee building, I can’t figure out. Are we seeing another tiff between our heavyweight developers behind all these machinations? The Tower City site obviously benefits Forest City Enterprises. That’s Sam Miller and Al Ratner and family. The new choice of the Mall benefits Dick Jacobs, rival for power in this town to the Forest City gang. How? The Medical Mart would be located right across the street from Jacobs’s Marriott hotel and the underground garage – both had 20-year tax abatements and millions of dollars in generous 20-year, zero percent interest loans from Cleveland – giving Jacobs a boost. It’s time for the Plain Dealer to put pressure on Hagan to reveal ALL the discussions and any other material that led to this change. Hagan, as I’ve mentioned in the past, has a connection to MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.) that should have caused him to recuse himself on the tax hike vote. The reason is his friendship with the Kennedy family since one of the MMPI principals is Christopher Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy. I might add in the late 1960s during the administration of Carl Stokes the Mall was made a lively place to be, especially in good weather. At very little cost, Stokes invited bands to play at noon time. There was some subsidy. It drew many people with lunches. The border around the fountains, since removed, provided seating for those bringing lunches and those buying from vendors there. Now there is an uninviting lawn where the fountains were, with sparse seating. The lack of a crowd of people inhibits use of this open space. It doesn’t take a lot of money or construction to make a living place. In fact, the less money expended the better. It just takes people and what draws people to sit out and enjoy the city. Music, entertainment and other people.

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but we're in an economic crisis so we have to do something!

As has been pointed out, Cleveland is and has been for some time circling the drain and all it's crap is poisoning our great lake, our soil and water. Do we care? Well, yes and Hagan says he has the answer - uh... my friend Chris Kennedy can make millions here, but he's convinced me that I can have a cut if I help him out, so he'll demand a convention center and I'll get my share and the glory of saving the city from economic ruin. Good plan Tim. The only problem is that your plan has no basis in fact, it's a dead idea. Convention centers like malls and highways through cities are dead ideas. Did you miss the memo?

Cleveland is the epicenter of more than the polluting corporations (Standard Oil, Sherwin Williams and Glidden,  and many others), make 'em sick make 'em well healthcare industry and foreclosures-du-jour. It is the home of a few luminary pirate developers. Sam Miller and Dick Jacobs did not rape only Cleveland's economy with their shopping mall crap (were they just following in DeBartolo's footsteps?). Along with their developer colleagues, they effected the demise of local economies throughout the US. In little and big towns nationwide, their strip malls with national retailers crushed family owned businesses. And consumers (not citizens - see how we have been made into what they want us to be - needy, addicted?), in a panic to have what everybody else had, surged forward  - effectively rushing toward the needle of their addictive drug. And like the drug dealers they were (are?), they got rich. Yes, indeed... "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

But that wasn't enough. In a country whose most recent president said the nation's response to 9-11 should be to "go shopping", these long emboldened thieves, developers who were accustomed to the bowing and scraping of elected officials trying to appease their constituents pressed forward - they asked for tax abatements and subsidies for ever larger and more publicly prominent developments. And the elected, with their campaign war chests full to overflowing, handed over public dollars to them. Even the nephew of JFK is in the grab and go corporate mentality. We didn't say no. Too busy shopping and keeping up with the Joneses apparently. We were still waiting for a miracle to come.

Can't we just change our minds and change our policies right now? Can't we just say, this is an emergency and we're stopping that bad idea of tax abatements and public subsidies for private corporations and developers because we're in crisis? Or are we too addicted to the  fading dream of the dead mall, the dead highway, the dead convention center and dead large gathering places nationwide?

Can't we just say no? Can't we order Cleveland to rehab?

 

Our "Activists" say build the MedCon, OppCon, And LakeCon...

All stupid ideas of corrupt and poor leaders and their lackeys, all stealing $ billions of public funds through corporate charity and philanthropy for the rich...  all part of the business-whoring PD Editors' corrupt vision for Cleveland...  

Specifically their bold corrupt vision and consipirators include...

1

Move ahead with infrastructure investments -- a new Inner Belt Bridge, the Opportunity Corridor, the West Shoreway and the Medical Mart and convention center complex, to name a few top priorities -- that will encourage economic development and again mark Cleveland as a place on the move.

2

Continue to nurture alternative energy research and firms, enhance the waterfronts and make environmental concerns an organizing principle in every decision. Aiming to become the "green city on a blue lake" that activist David Beach talks about will create jobs, change perceptions and make this an even better place to live.

3

Get our fair share from state government. It's time the Strickland administration and the General Assembly focused on the needs of metropolitan Ohio. The governor's announcement that Cleveland will be the laboratory for his education reform package is an fine start. But success requires funding key transportation projects and redesigning incentives to push investment into cities and closer to the research centers a 21st-century economy demands.

Some "plain dealer", "editorial agenda" and "activists" we have here... whores for industry and wealth... in this colorless city by a dead lake.

Disrupt IT

New County administration building

  Litt mentions that the existing County Administration building killed the original Burnham Plan.  It's ironic that we have an opportunity to rectify that mistake.  Why do we never hear about the administration building, anymore?

 

they don't have the money

In an earlier thread when the county had a lame plan to tear down the Breuer and put new offices there, Norm had this to say:

"Stick the county offices in one of the abandoned Malls around the county, or on land banked property seized in all the sheriff sales.... or in the old Higbee's Building on Public Square, or Halle's, or May Company, or Erieview Plaza... anywhere but on the County-blighted site of one of our only internationally important architectural landmark buildings ever. Duh."

I think the county can stay right where they are - they have a building - several buildings and do not need more space. They seem to need to cut back in fact on how many desks they require. But if they did need to move, Norm's list of potential sites seem like a good starting point for considerations. They said that their move to East 9th and Euclid would be an economic development movement - actually it would not be as it seems apparent that should the county administration move a few blocks south to live in the Higbee or May Company buildings, that move would not prove any more developing than their current site.

I believe that their plan to stay put for now had everything to do with the fact that spending $243 million on a new building was a lame idea to begin with - especially when they did not have the money. Taking more money from us to give to a convention center won the day. Hence we are embroiled in another building project that we cannot afford. When will these guys learn. August maybe?

I don't think it was the county admin building that killed the mall - Burnham Plan. It was the Van Sweringen's hijacking the train station to public square to serve the eastern suburbs that was its death knell. Oh yes and the Depression. It is outlined in this article: The Betrayal of Cleveland - Harper's 1934. Granted the admin building does not complete the mall in Burnham's vision either. Neither did the underground convention center addition.

This quote sounds all too familiar: "As early as 1924 a blow had fallen on that marvelous city. For Cleveland is a marvelous city. The place is solid. Wealth, strength, well-being are there-or at least once were. Its iron masters, its oil magnates, its railroad giants have kept flowing into it for decades a ceaseless stream of riches. But, for all its wealth, something had gone awry nearly a decade ago. Population rose, but real estate values fell. In 1929, when Mr. Coolidge went out of office, property values along Euclid Avenue were just half what they were when he took office. Population increased by 13%; land values fell by 50 per cent. Outside the city, country land values were being cut by 24 per cent. This was but one of the surface indications of the presence of the canker in the vitals of the city. But no one paid any attention to it. A man would have been denounced as a traitor and subversive knocker had he so much as whispered it. There were a thousand sick cities in America then. There were whole regions which were ravaged by various economic diseases. But it was the era of the booster and the promoter, and the great prophylactic for all ills was silence."

To see what Burnham had in mind (and it wasn't as medical mart) visit D.H. Ellison's Group Plan web compendium of all things mall.

I would love to see this plan completed, the hotels, Hollenden Hotel and Wedell House resurrected and the train station, but alas... Ellison's plan involves a municipal casino built in the traditional beaux arts style and that is about as likely as any of the lamo ideas we hear coming out of the BOCC these days. But who knows... maybe Ellison should go to Chicago like Mayor Frank did to pay them a visit. Maybe they would like his proposal better. This medical mart doesn't seem to be gaining traction here. And think of the jobs that would be created - stone cutting, plastering, ironworking, etc.  Not gonna happen in a depression.

sound familiar?

A little further down in the fascinating article mentioned above - the story of how Cleveland failed - played its part in the great Depression is this interesting bit - talk about bailout - does this sound familiar?

I believe this article should be required reading for the GCP, BOCC, MMPI, bankers, trust companies and all Cleveland taxpayers. 

"But by midsummer of 1931 the end was in sight. In July there was a devastating slump in employment. The nation sank down almost exhausted. Banks everywhere began to close. Later Mr. Hoover declared that these troubles flowed from England's abandonment of the gold standard. The shock was too much for American banks, though, oddly, it did not shatter any British banks. Of course the reason American banks began to fail was because they had been formed in the image of these Cleveland banks. The situation finally reached panic proportions, when it was met by the formation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. And among the early rescues of that amazing institution were the Van Sweringens and the Cleveland banks they had drawn upon. Within six months of its formation nearly fifty million dollars of government funds were poured into the various Van Sweringen railroads to keep them out of receiverships, much of the money to repay bank loans. And in the end some of them had to go into the hands of receivers in spite of all the rescue work."

He closes with this: "What is more, millions in taxes remain unpaid. The Van Sweringen companies owe in taxes for the current year and in back taxes over $3,500,000. Their real estate adventure round the Public Square has cost countless millions, supplied by mortgages and bonds now in default. Taxes on much of this property are unpaid, while its promotion has cut in half the tax values of the property in the old-established Euclid Avenue section of Cleveland.

What is to be the end of all this? Perhaps I ought not close this sorry tale without offering a suggestion. All this disorder and damage is but the logical result of the notion which has guided the growth of American cities. A city is a dwelling place of men and women. Their security, their happiness, their comfort, their varied objectives all require certain services at the hands of the city. Supplying those services makes up the functions of the city's political and social and economic organization. If those functions are to be seized, under the forms of law and with the aid of the money belonging to the people, by a small group of adventurous men to be used for their own purposes the city will suffer. Not only will it lose the benefit of those functions, but it will be victimized in many other ways. Yet this is precisely what happens. And it happens because our people look with complacence on the kind of disloyalties and betrayals by which the resources of a great city were forged into weapons for inordinately acquisitive men. I repeat here what I have observed before; that America has a job to perform in civilizing herself."

Why don't we learn from the past? Oh, yes, we prefer to let greed try again and again. We erase our historic structures and forget their stories, we mow down natural areas for greed. 

Americans railed against monopolies at one time. Now we have Exxon Mobil and Walmart. We had a great conservation movement (remember John Muir?) Now we have mountaintop mining and logging in national forests.

The Van Sweringen brothers died penniless. "At the time of his death, O.P. was worth less than $3,000."

I can think of a few who ought to suffer the same fate today. Maureen Dowd's commentary sounds right.

Disgorge, Wall Street Fat Cats

disgorging banks - chapter 1

In the link above, Maureen Dowd suggests that Wall Street banks banks "disgorge" (to surrender or yield (something, esp. something illicitly obtained).)

"The president’s disgust at Wall Street looters was good. But we need more. We need disgorgement."

The good news? Federal Prosecutors are doing thier jobs. Finally Swiss Bank UBS will disgorge $780 million.  As part of the deal, UBS will reveal the tax cheaters. "Federal prosecutors have been examining about 19,000 accounts at the bank, but UBS ultimately may disclose the identities of only a few hundred customers."

Kind of makes you wonder doesn't it? Who in Cleveland might be among those 19,000 accounts. Who in Cleveland has been cheating the IRS? Think its only fat cats in NY and LA? I doubt it.

Obama has a lot of work to do and part of it I beleive is clearing away the crap of the past, leveling and uncovering the graft and corruption so we can begin on a level playing field. We need to level our local playing field and I hope that federal prosecutors are busily connecting the dots of corruption in Cuyahoga County.

Swiss banks are a good place to begin, but it can't stop there. It has to get right down to the US regions, the counties and municipalities and the cheaters and legal loophole worms that have infected the democracy our forefathers sought to build here. The banks and those who run them and those who keep them in power need to have a strong emetic. Open and transparent. If that's the way Obama intends to run this show, I suggest we need to give our politicians a dose of ipecac and an enema. Then we'll know where we stand; we'll find out what's hidden deep inside those cavities - those executive sessions and meetings with no minutes - those "representative democracy", "father knows best" decisions. Do we have the stamina to hope for the audacity of catharsis? It could be unseemly, but then, it probably already is.

Medical Mart Convention Center Today-Bike Summit

The outcome is not bad - but it remains to be seen how the public will use this space and whether the results justify the money spent.  Also - the site has a number of high maintenance elements including mirrored vent structures that will  get grimy and landscaping that requires DAILY weeding.  The lawn is a big element, too - but mowing is something the City of Cleveland can manage.   Watering was (fortunately) considered - though sprinklers are are a schedule regardless of actual rainfall.

Here's the actual Medical Mart now called Global Center for Health Innovation

I was glad for the provision of bike racks - though you can see the drainage problem that already needs to be remedied:

And, thanks to Steven Litt for putting out the need for a major bike focused summit to be held at the new Convention Center - it can't happen soon enough:

http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2013/07/cleveland_needs_a_new_bike_sum.html
 

Medical Mart Convention Center Today

The outcome is not bad - but it remains to be seen how the public will use this space and whether the results justify the money spent.  Also - the site has a number of high maintenance elements including mirrored vent structures that will  get grimy and landscaping that requires DAILY weeding.  The lawn is a big element, too - but mowing is something the City of Cleveland can manage.   Watering was (fortunately) considered - though sprinklers are are a schedule regardless of actual rainfall.

Here's the actual Medical Mart now called Global Center for Health Innovation

I was glad for the provision of bike racks - though you can see the drainage problem that already needs to be remedied: