"Jacobs' exit will close an era of political corruption ..."

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The new interchange -- what else does Jacobs' want for his Chagrin Highlands development?

FREE TIMES, November 11, 1999, by Roldo Bartimole

"Cleveland has been very, very good to Dick Jacobs.

When he packs his bags at Jacobs Field they'll be filled with loot. He's taken taxpayers of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for just about all one man can carry away.

The record $320 million price tag (plus the $60 million he personally picked up when the stock went public) for a team he bought in 1986 for about $35-45 million, depending upon whose figures one uses, made a big-time hit for Jacobs.

He says he doesn't have "seller's remorse"? He should have seller's ecstasy.

Jacobs' exit will close an era of political corruption of civic life for the wealthy in Cleveland. In the 1980s, Jacobs replaced Art Modell as Cleveland's sports angel among politicians and the media.

His ascendancy led the way for the construction of Jacobs Field, Gund Arena and eventually Cleveland Browns Stadium as Modell got pushed to the wall financially and out of favor politically.

Let the sycophantic TV anchors and so-called sports reporters credit him with the five (puny) American League Central Division championships. His real title was in loot ...

No one seems to recognize the game that's played here over and over again with public resources for private gain. It wouldn't be bad if these guys took some big risks but they don't. They have mayors, council members, county commissioners, state legislators and governors to do that. And taxpayers to quietly pick up the tab ...

All you ever want to know about Dick Jacobs was revealed at the City Council committee table during a three-and- half-hour meeting in 1989. The reason for Jacobs' visit was to finesse, with the help of lame ducks Council President George Forbes and Mayor George Voinovich, a $120 million tax abatement and $17 million worth of UDAGs (Urban Development Action Grants) for the Ameritrust Center] and a Hyatt Hotel. (The two were never built and remain a parking lot on Public Square.)

Then Council President-elect Jay Westbrook and his supporters were desperately looking for a fig leaf from Jacobs to hide the civic crime they were about to commit.

Just give us $150,000 to take back to the neighborhood in exchange for the $137 million downtown gift we're giving you, was their plaintive request.

I watched Jacobs' face screw up and redden as if someone had asked for his first born son. No way, can't do, was the reply from the visibly irritated multi-millionaire. Westbrook and his allies relented and passed the abatement.

Yes, Jacobs knows how to play hardball a lot better than the team he's been fielding.

As he sat at that table, Jacobs also had the knowledge that whether or not Forbes or Voinovich were around, Cleveland was going to do him an even bigger favor.

The taxpayers were going to build him a first class stadium with $157 million and put his name on it.

Last week in the hubbub over the team's sale, Jacobs sent over the rent statement to Gateway for use of the Jake for 1999. The statement showed ticket sales alone plopped $62,319,438 into his ample pockets. That's up from $55.8 million last year and up more than 35 percent over the 1996 ticket income of $45.6 million. That's just ticket sales, mind you.

Jacobs, at that council table, was the recipient of untold riches in addition to that day's $137 million. Forbes had already secretly cut Jacobs in on the Figgie deal, a real estate dream of prime virgin land [site of Chagrin Highlands] for a developer ...

The goodies just rolled in for Jacobs. He had $3.5 million for the Galleria; a $120 million tax abatement for the now Key Center plus a $10 million UDAG, with a $7.9 million UDAG for the attached Marriott, also 100 percent tax abated for 20 years; a lease for the city's Mall A for an underground parking structure, also tax abated and at a cost of about 10 cents a day per car. The city also gave him two choice corner lots on E. 12th Street and St. Clair Avenue to develop into high-rise office buildings.

Jacobs can be droll, as he was in saying that he didn't believe in legacies or obituaries. However, he has left a legacy. A legacy of the greedy grouch (or bad pitching) ..."

[The new interchange -- what else does Jacobs' want for his Chagrin Highlands development?]

FEATURE ARTICLE from THE FREE TIMES, 10 - 5 - 00, by Roldo Bartimole


When mall developer Dick Jacobs bought the Cleveland Indians in 1986, he didn't just buy a baseball team, he bought a ticket to the Cleveland City Hall candy stand.

And he was smart enough when he sold the baseball team to keep two things: his name on the stadium for a few more years, and his loge, to retain his high profile.

From the City Hall candy stand in the late 1980s he took tax abatements, UDAGs (urban development action grants), a free stadium, and development rights to Chagrin Highlands, prime city land owned in the suburbs, all of it worth hundreds of millions of subsidized dollars.

Last week, he invited a number of City Council members as guests to his loge, to see a baseball game and hear a little about his troubles ...

Jacobs' concern: the hospitality at City Hall isn't what it used to be. He's not getting from City Hall now what he used to get with ease 10 years ago: subsidies and cooperation ...

Surprisingly, the city's master of the universe in the 1980s complained of slumping times, particularly at the hands of Mayor Michael White. He's getting the cold shoulder from White ...

While he entertained and fed hot dogs and chicken sandwiches to council members, Jacobs sought a menu of what goodies he needs for his tray.

Jacobs wants help with his downtown real estate that lies comatose, including the empty old historic Cleveland Trust bank building at East 9th and Euclid, along with two more behind the corner building that have been empty for years.

Furthermore, Jacobs faces time limits on two city-owned properties, on the north and south sides of St. Clair Avenue at East 12th Street. Jacobs has been speculating on these city properties for nearly 10 years. His contract with the city calls for him to construct office buildings of 17 to 18 floors. Both sites are now parking lots run by Jacobs.

Jacobs also presides over what has to be the highest valued piece of real estate used as a parking lot, at the west side of Public Square. He received a 20-year, 100 percent tax abatement from the city in 1989 to build a Hyatt Hotel and bank tower to match his complex at Key Center on the north side of Public Square. Now, 10 years later, the site remains undeveloped.

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Finally, a council member noted that Jacobs also complained about the lack of help from the city at the Chagrin Highlands development, formerly known as the Figgie project. Mayor White, earlier in his tenure, sued to eject Jacobs from the project, claiming Jacobs had been given a development role without the city's knowledge. The suit was finally settled, leaving Jacobs the major developer ..."

Roldo Bartimole publishes the newsletter Point of View.

He can be reached at 216-321-2757 or e-mail at pointofview@stratos.net

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