Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 11:12.

Damian Guevara in the Scene last week had a take on the Issue 3 that has been neglected by most, including me, but touches on a damaging game among Cleveland developers. They vie among themselves for advantage no matter what the cost to community.


It has cost us plenty over the years.


Guevara points out that Forest City Enterprises would be a winner if the measure passes. And that its rival, Jeff Jacobs, wants to stop it, making him the winner.


The battle between the two families – Jacobs & Ratner – has been going on in Cleveland for years. Neither cares much about the damage they cause the city.


“The question for Greater Clevelanders,” writes, Guevara, a former Plain Dealer reporter, “Do you trust wealthy pro-casino interests – in this case, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert – to deliver on the latest promise of blue-collar and hospitality jobs, multi-million-dollar tax payments and yet another facelift of downtown Cleveland?”


I’d say no.


He calls the manipulation of the constitution inherent in a “yes” vote for Issue 3, a “deal-breaker” for many.


But the beneficiaries are clear, he notices.


“For all the vagueness of the constitutional amendment,” he writes, “there is some astounding specificity to be found in the amendment’s wording, the list of designated parcels put aside for casino construction. In Cleveland, this includes 83 acres of real estate. The Cleveland casino will, parcel-for-parcel, go on land owned by Forest City Enterprises,  or the adjacent Scranton Peninsula in the industrial flats, just across the Cuyahoga river, all owned by Forest City.”


Of course, the major opponent to Gilbert’s casino desire is Jeff Jacobs, son of the late Dick Jacobs and a developer and casino operator himself.


The Jacobs-Ratner (Forest City Enterprises) battle has a long history of rivalry in Cleveland. Damaging to the city, too.


When Dick Jacobs built what is now Key Center he made it taller than Forest City’s Terminal Tower. There had been an unwritten law in Cleveland no building should be taller than Terminal Tower. That’s why the Sohio building remained shorter. They are all Public Square buildings.


Some called it developer penis envy.


When Jacobs got a special deal on the Marriott hotel, Sam Miller of Forest City demanded equal tax breaks for his Ritz-Carleton. He got it.


The biggest battle was fought over Chagrin Highlands, a plot of land more than 500 acres that the city allowed for development in 1989. Unbeknownst to anyone, Dick Jacobs was made a principal thanks to George Forbes. When Jacobs wanted to build a retail center at the same time as Beachwood Place was expanding, Mayor Michael White caused the city to sue Jacobs.


The suit stopped Jacobs’s plan; Beachwood Place, with Ratner interests, went ahead with its expansion. The suit was later dropped.


It was Jacobs vs. Ratner on the new County administration building. Jacobs sold his E. 9th property to the County for that purpose while Forest City still owns its offering to the County, the mostly empty Higbee department store building.


The two factions also fought over placement of the Medical Mart/Convention Center with Jacobs winning with the location of the present city’s center.


Originally, when the plan was passed by City Council years ago for a convention center, Scranton Peninsula was its location, with Forest City promising other retail and housing development there.


So around and around these two major Cleveland forces go.


Another question to be answered is whether any principals in the deal, if passed, will be from the Ratner or Miller families. Gilbert isn’t talking about that.


Hate to make a choice on this one but I’m pulling for Jacobs this time.


Guevara’s piece can be found here: http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/cash-of-the-titans/Content?oid=1690218


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stark simplicity

 sometimes making things simpler makes them stand out. Thanks, Roldo!

jacobs or gilbert

what a call to be forced to make. Who would have ever have thought that Roldo would need to say this? A sign of really bad times in Cleveland! Toldeo! and more.

Short and sarcastic offers

Short and sarcastic offers a false sense of superiority and I am not alone with that perception.

The information about the restricted parcels was posted on this site weeks ago.


short and sweet

The sense of superiority is not false. Not sure why the info on restricted parcels can't be brought up again. I hope that it is. We need to think about where we are heading in this town.

Reading your stuff, Roldo,

Reading your stuff, Roldo, is very refreshing.  You seem to be one of the few people who knows what these big money characters are like...or at least one of the only who speaks the truth in the media.  

The original plans for what's now called Key Tower were for it to be shorter than Terminal Tower.  Jacobs changed that at the last minute.  I had always just thought it was purely for his own ego - to have the tallest building in Ohio - and didn't know about how it relatd to his battle with the Ratners.

My father was involved with that tower, as an attorney representing Society Bank.  He's told me some stories about how awful Dick Jacobs was.  Dick Jacobs was a terrible man to deal with.  He tried to get my father fired from his law firm because my father was not just caving to his demands and was instead represtening the interests of his client.    Thankfully, his client understood that if Jacobs was that mad at him he must be representing them well.  But it's pretty scary when someone that powerful is making you an enemy because he thinks he should just be able to get his way.   And, I was told stories about how Jacobs (I swear to God this is true) would hire hookers to seduce attorneys and others he was in business dealings with, to have that hanging over their heads to blackmail them with.  My dad also told me about how Dominic Visconsi once pulled a pistol out and waived it around threateningly at representatives from Sears, causing Sears to vow to never do business with those people ever again.   Well, lots of stories like that.   People don't know how dirty some of our media-hyped business leaders are.   People think they're upstanding people when they are dirtier than most of the people in our jails!  

Can't discount it

I wouldn't put anything past Dick Jacobs. As he himself said, he was for profit to the nth degree. Always laughed at his City Club speech in which he decried the fact that a ballplayer could make $1 million a year. And him a capitalist who always demanded top dollar.