The conspiracy to build the Mayor Frank Jackson state mental hospital

Submitted by Lee Batdorff on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 01:46.

In the Sunday Nov. 29th Plain Dealer cover story about the Health Line Steven Litt deserves much praise for mentioning in the fifth to the last paragraph of a 32-paragraph article that somehow, “a state psychiatric hospital planned near East 55th Street could discourage development of housing and other businesses nearby.”

At least Mr. Litt said it somewhere. This soft touch on something that could be very destructive to the future of Cleveland is puzzling. There is much to look into concerning this proposal.

1-What the American Public Transit Association would say about the advisability of a transit agency (in this case the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority) selling strategically located land next to a $200 million dollar “nationally important demonstration” Bus Rapid Transit line to be used as a parking lot to serve a mental hospital? What about the much touted “transit orient design” that environmentalists talk about?

2-Did the Ohio Department of Mental Health take a good look at the 8.4 acres of shovel ready land on Broadway that is the site of the former St. Micheal's Hospital? It had 222 beds and a look at the site from Google Earth shows about a quarter of this property was taken up by a surface parking lot. The proposed state hospital is to have 300 beds. It is likely the new state facility would fit just fine on the St. Micheal's site. Did Broadway neighborhood leaders reject such a proposal?

3-How much income tax money from this facility will be new to Cleveland? Rumor is that some of the beds and the jobs are being transferred in from Cleveland-located Metro Hospital, not just from outside of Cleveland. Mayor Frank Jackson has touted all the new income tax the city would receive from this facility.

4-Where does State of Ohio policy stand on something like building a suburban styled regional mental hospital sprawled over 14 acres of some of the most commercially appealing property in the state. Has Governor Strickland's administration ever set statewide standards for making sure huge strategic public investment, such as the $200 million Health Line, is put to the highest and best use, instead of squandering it with a property-value-destroying State mental hospital? If this facility is built as proposed, then it will be tax money used to destroy potential great value produced by tax money. It will be a massive collision of public dollars destroying the potential for private, and much public good. I fear that the good governor does not have a rudder on the good ship Ohio.

5-What about the overwhelming volume of public land use already on Euclid Avenue? None of it pays property taxes. What does continuing this trend mean for the future of property taxes in the City of Cleveland? Information provided by the Cuyahoga County Treasurer's office shows that there are currently at least 12 properties on Euclid Avenue, some large, that are now tax exempt between E. 46th and E. 86th Streets. This does not include the mammoth tax exempt properties of the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University further east along Euclid.

6-With all the property tax exemptions given to encourage land development in recent decades, has it finally come to pass that “the highest and best” use is no longer a valid model for development that produces tax income? Maybe Mayor Jackson has insight into this.

7-Who benefits from the destruction of property value in the middle of midtown? Downtown business interests that have gone unexamined by the Plain Dealer? Perhaps the downtown boys are concerned for protecting the value of their property by making sure the State and City steer public funds to limit land available for commercial development and competing with their under appreciated properties.

Without the town's major newspaper taking a hard look at this proposal, conspiracy theory and rumor become the only ways to explain why such a thing as the Mayor Frank Jackson state mental hospital is being propsed for such prime land.


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Without facts it is easy to resort to crackpot theory

No need for crackpot theory.  Euclid between 30s and 80s has been a dead zone since
I lived there and probably for decades before- so according to sprawl-era
conventional wisdom its the perfect place to put undesirable land uses.  I'm
surprised someone hasn't suggested storing nuclear waste there- its at least as
desolate as the Neveda desert!

From: Michael Lewyn, formerly Cleveland-based attorney and member of the Urban Sprawl Committee of the NEO Sierra Club who now lives in Toronto Ontario.

scholarship available at
other writings available at

Mayor Jackson's role at Cleveland public schools

Who gets hurt most when property taxes are depressed in Cleveland? Cleveland public schools. And who has a measure of control over the hiring of the Cleveland schools superintendent? The mayor of the City of Cleveland, Frank Jakson. Don't expect the school's leader to take a stand on Mayor Jackson's decision to support a property tax destorying mental hospital be built in the middle of Midtown.

Schools, graft, construction contracts, demolitions $$$$

The Plain Dealer is not looking at any of this Lee--

Without the town's major newspaper taking a hard look at this proposal, conspiracy theory and rumor become the only ways to explain why such a thing as the Mayor Frank Jackson state mental hospital is being propsed for such prime land.

I call and I call asking for follow-up on the mystery demolitions in my neighborhood.  Councilman Cummins is suddenly mute and the school district would have more west side schoools demolished...

Sanders was brought in with his cronies from Toledo to take down the "dysfunctional" public schools as part of the PD's sick idea of "regional" sharing...and I am afraid that there is an agenda for other vital community needs and institutions, too. 

Whitopia...does seem to be the PD's ultimate goal, if they have one.

Past Plain Dealer stories about the hospital

Hi Lee -

I'm the Plain Dealer real estate reporter, and I've been writing about the hospital project and responses to it. The following stories we've run about the hospital project and other proposals in Midtown might interest you.

In June, before the state had made a decision on where to locate the hospital, we published a story about the development challenges in Midtown:

We also ran a story in July, when the state announced it had selected the Midtown site:

To answer your second question, my understanding is that the St. Michael's site was one of the four Cleveland locations that the Ohio Department of Mental Health considered. They ruled out that site, which is actually more like 10 acres - smaller than the 14-acre site the state selected in Midtown and much smaller than the 30-acre site the state already owns and considered in Highland Hills. There also was an existing proposal to redevelop the St. Michael's site for a velodrome facility.

Regarding your third question, about where the beds and jobs are coming from: The city and the state have said from the start that if the hospital landed in Cleveland, the city would keep some existing jobs and gain new ones. The Midtown hospital will replace two existing hospitals that are out-of-date. The smaller of the hospitals, with 100 beds, is in Cleveland already. The larger hospital, with 180 beds, is in Sagamore Hills Township. The city will be keeping the income tax revenues from jobs that were at the Cleveland hospital. It will be gaining income tax revenues from jobs that were at the Sagamore Hills hospital. The new hospital will have 300 beds and 500 jobs.

There is no indication at this point as to whether this hospital will be "suburban-styled," though, as I've written, property owners and investors in Midtown are very focused at this point on how the hospital will look and how it will fit into the urban environment. The state has not yet released drawings showing what the project could look like. The city has told me that the land deals will close by early next year, and I expect we will see and be able to assess potential designs for the hospital sometime after that.

Michelle Jarboe

PD response

Thank you MJarboe--

The smaller of the hospitals, with 100 beds, is in Cleveland already.

That would be the Northcoast Behavioral Institute at Metrohealth Hospital, formerly Cleveland Psychiatric Institute in my neighborhood of Cleveland. 

Does this allow Metrohealth's hand-picked, apparently clueless, board to proceed with even more demolition contract work and steered contracts for friends of the Clinic? 

(P.S. Could the PD follow-up on the fate of Carroll and Sideras? at Tri-C and one at CWRU...seems pretty cushy to me--Apparently, the only design/construction "work" to be had in this town is through public state and federal funded demolitions and quick depreciation projects funded through ODOT, CMSD, HUD, Tri-C, and now CSU..oh, and in University Circle).