Cudell Improvement celebrates 31st Annual Meeting

(Plain Press, February 2006) Cudell Improvement’s 31st Annual Meeting on January 18th provided area residents and stakeholders with an update on major development projects, acknowledged contributions to the neighborhood through presentation of awards, and offered an opportunity to meet and greet newly-elected Mayor Frank Jackson.

Mayor Jackson briefly addressed the over 200 people attending the meeting at Brennan’s Party Center. Jackson stressed the importance of development corporations like Cudell Improvement to the continued vitality of Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

Development update

Cudell Improvement Executive Director Anita Brindza praised the effort of Ken Lurie of Rysar Properties and his staff in assembling a development site consisting of 104 parcels of land at Interstate 90 and W. 117th without the use of eminent domain. A Target Store and a big box (most likely a Giant Eagle) are planned for the site. Negotiations with a few remaining homeowners are to be completed soon, and demolition of the site is expected to begin by mid February. A Target official says the company hopes to open a new store on the site in July of 2007.

The rehabilitation of the Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) Highland Square Station at W. 117th and Madison will be “something of beauty, something special,” promised RTA Planner John Goodworth. The design of  $4.9 million rapid station resulted from a collaborative effort between RTA, the cities of Cleveland and Lakewood and Cudell Improvement, said Goodworth.

The project began last September with expected completion by September,2007. The newly-rehabilitated station will include a mural resulting from a Lakewood High School-sponsored art competition, will meet American Disability Act requirements for handicapped accessibility,  and will include a refurbished tunnel. Ohio Diversified, a female-owned company which built the W. 65th rapid station, was awarded the contract as the lowest bidder on the project, said Goodworth.

The West Side Industrial Retention and Expansion Network (WIRE-NET) entered into an agreement in October 2005 to explore the purchase of the former Midland Steel site on Madison Avenue at Berea Road for use as a business park for industry. The City of Cleveland and Cudell Improvement are working with WIRE-Net to create a ready to build industrial development in hopes of creating jobs and tax revenue, says Brook Fields on loan to the City of Cleveland Economic Development Department for this project from the Chicago office of the Environmental Protection Agency. The current owner of the site, Midland Madison Properties, bought the property in 2003 for its scrap steel after Midland Steel went bankrupt. Midland Steel produced car frames and other steel products at the plant where several generations of Clevelanders earned a living.

Field said the buildings on the 21+acre Midland Steel site have already been demolished, but foundations and large underground tanks will constitute a challenge. Before making the final decision to purchase the property, WIRE-Net must complete a Phase I environmental history of the site and a Phase II examination of environmental contaminants and structural challenges on the site. The Cleveland Foundation has provided WIRE-Net with funding to help with these assessments. Fields estimates that bringing the site up to developable condition will cost about $400,000 per acre.

Another large project planned is the environmental remediation of the Trinity Property at 9203 Detroit Avenue. The site’s building is the former home of Monarch Aluminum which made pots and pans until the early 1980s. During the 1980s and early 1990s the city cited owners of the property with numerous code violations and fire marshals visited the site on a number of occasions. The city of Cleveland gained title of the property in 1994 at an Auditor’s sale. City Council is currently considering a proposal by its Economic Development Department to enter into contracts to abate asbestos, demolish the building and clean up the soil. The cost estimate for the effort is estimated at $2.2 million, about $400,000 per acre. City officials hope to recover some of the cost of cleanup from former owners of the contaminated site. Energy-Wise, a growing Cleveland area company, has expressed interest in locating at the site if the site is completed soon. Planners say they hope to use sustainable green project design to redevelop the site. Bricks from the demolished buildings would be used to line walkways on the site.


Cudell Improvement presented its Excellence in Government Award to Cuyahoga County Engineer Robert C. Klaiber for his work on street improvement projects on W. 117th Street and Berea Road.

Ward 18 Councilman Jay Westbrook was the recipient of the Walter and Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a councilperson for the neighborhood since 1980, and  city council president from 1990 to 1999.  Westbrook has been a strong supporter in providing funding and other assistance to Cudell Improvement. In presenting the award in his parents’ memory, Cudell Improvement board member Walter Martens, Jr. noted some of the neighborhood organizations Westbrook was instrumental in founding, including Midwest Housing Partnership and WIRE-Net.

David Orlean of The Orlean Company received a Community Award for work on West Tech Lofts and West Tech Homes. Ken Lurie of Rysar Properties received a Community Award for work on West Tech Homes.

Chuck Hoven, Managing Editor of the Plain Press received a Community Award for neighborhood news coverage.

Deb Fisher, an account executive with Cleveland Magazine, received a Community Award for work with Cudell Improvement.

Catholic Charities Facilities Corporation was honored with a Community Award as a development partner in the recently completed renovation of Kirby Manor.

Stanley Mason, “Mayor of Clifton Boulevard” received a Service Award for his work with the Arts Festival Committee planning the Clifton Arts Festival.

Jeffrey Sugalski received a Service Award for volunteering to design the website for Lorain Station District, located at (Sugalski also designed the Plain Press website.)

Paul Glady was awarded a Service Award for his donations to the neighborhood archives.

Police Commander Gary Gingell and Captain Brian Heffernan of the Bureau of Special Services, as well as Lieutenant Doug Dvorak of the Detective Bureau, received Service Awards for their work  in the First District.

Mick Cochrane of the Liquid Planet was awarded a Charles Schambach Beautification Award for the outdoor living space created outside of the business at 11002 Clifton Boulevard.

Richard Randa of the Whispering Willow, 11618 Madison, was also awarded a Schambach Beautification award for maintaining plants in planters on Madison Avenue.

Three neighborhood businesses received Storefront Renovation Awards. Zum Properties received an award for the company’s $70,000 restoration of the façade of Brothers Lounge at 11609 Detroit Avenue. The new owners plan to operate Brothers Lounge once again as a music club. The city of Cleveland rebated $25,000 of the cost of the façade improvement.

Mark and Margery Ross received a Storefront Renovation Award for the restoration of the Ross Building at 9700 Lorain Avenue. The city of Cleveland rebated $24,000 of the $56,000 renovation cost.

Christine Hohlakis of Lorain Coin Laundry received a Storefront Renovation Award for restoration of the building that houses the Laundry at 9119 Lorain Avenue. The project included the cleaning and repair of the building’s original slate roof. The city of Cleveland rebated $25,000 of the $72,000 cost of the project.

Janet Loehr, Chair of the Nominating and Membership Committee, announced election results. Loehr also noted the passing of longtime Cudell Improvement board member and neighborhood activist Rita Lynch during the past year. Lynch’s memory was honored on the program for the annual meeting.

Cudell Improvement’s President Paul Vernon introduced a motion to reduce the size of the Board of Trustees from 21-27 members to 15-19 members. The motion passed with a voice vote from the general membership present at the meeting.


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