Departures from the Jacobs organization

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Jeffrey LeBarron
Martin J. Cleary
Lazarus to leave Northland
Thomas Henneberry
from bazaar to bizarre
What's left of empire
4-7-95: David Jacobs Jr. sues

NEWS ARTICLE from The Associated Press, 8-19-99

"Jacobs says Columbus malls not for sale

COLUMBUS-- ... Jacobs said the malls aren't in good enough shape to be sold anyway.

"They're not for sale because they're not salable," he said ...

Annie Hall, lobbyist for Bank One, the largest employer at the 1,125-acre [Polaris] park, said it is hard to believe Jacobs.

"We think that the malls were on the block two days ago and were not on the block a day ago and probably will be on the block as soon as Mr. Jacobs finds a buyer," she said.

"To put it succinctly, we do not think you can take Mr. Jacobs' word to the bank.""

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 1-30-01, By MARK VOSBURGH and CHRISTOPHER QUINN, PLAIN DEALER REPORTERS

[PROMISES, PROMISES]

``Jacobs seeks city OK to build large stores

Developer Richard E. Jacobs wants the city of Cleveland to let him build big stores at Chagrin Highlands ...

Jacobs was not available for comment last night. Drawings obtained by The Plain Dealer show Jacobs proposing four stores ranging in size from 61,000 square feet to 158,000 square feet south and west of I-271 and Harvard Rd.

Those plans surprised Warrensville Heights officials ...

[Mayor Marcia] Fudge said Jacobs officials had PROMISED not to use the property for retail. ''

More on Chagrin Highlands

NEWS ARTICLE from THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 2-1-01, By Debbie Gebolys, Dispatch Business Reporter

"Jacobs lets go of two aging malls

Westland, Northland change hands

... Owner Richard Jacobs turned over the aging properties to his lender ...

Jacobs' lender, Cigna Corp., took control of the properties in exchange for forgiving his outstanding mortgages on the malls, industry sources said. No money changed hands in the transaction ...

Eastland, considered a more desirable property than the others, will remain with Jacobs until a buyer is found, a spokesman said yesterday ...

Jacobs, 75, said in 1999 that he wanted to sell most of his malls, offices, hotels and the Cleveland Indians baseball team ...

He said at the time that his three Columbus malls wouldn't be sold because no one would buy them ...

Northland shopper Martha Keller said she's still uneasy about the mall's future.

"All we can do is hope for the best,'' the North Side resident said. "The only thing I'm worried about is if they end up tearing it down and putting up apartments.'' ... ''

dgebolys@dispatch.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Associated Press, 2-17-01

[Defamation suits dropped]

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Two developers fighting over plans for a mall have agreed to drop defamation lawsuits they filed against each other.

Richard E. Jacobs and Herbert Glimcher were set to go to trial this spring on charges that each had defamed the other in 1999 when Jacobs, then owner of Northland Mall, sought to overturn tax incentives for Glimcher's proposed Polaris Fashion Place ...

"The No. 1 factor in reaching a settlement was that Mr. Jacobs will no longer own competing malls in the community and undoubtedly is less concerned about Polaris," Glimcher attorney David Young said.

New owners took over at Northland and another Jacobs' mall, Westland Mall, Feb. 1 [2001] ...

Jacobs tried to stop construction of the Polaris mall ...

Jacobs' campaign advertisements that autumn [1999] said Glimcher personally would benefit from taxpayer-financed roads built at Polaris ... "

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 1-31-01,

"The Downtown Cleveland Partnership has appointed Jeffrey LeBarron as executive vice president. LeBarron comes to the partnership from the Jacobs Group, where he last served as director of retail real estate.

LeBarron also served as an assistant law director for Cleveland and executive assistant for former Mayor George V. Voinovich.

The Downtown Cleveland partnership serves as private-sector advocate for downtown Cleveland."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 2-14-01, By CORWIN A. THOMAS, PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

[Martin J. Cleary leaves the Jacobs Group]

"... [Martin J.] Cleary, 65, has decided to call it quits ...

For years, the president and chief operating officer of the Richard E. Jacobs Group, has wanted to leave Bay Village behind and retreat to his home on the Atlantic Coast.

But he stayed at the urging of his boss and friend, Richard E. Jacobs. To hear people in commercial real estate circles tell it, Cleary is Jacobs right-hand man ...

Cleary's retirement comes five months after Jacobs sold a large chunk of his shopping mall portfolio to CBL & Associates Properties Inc., of which Cleary is a director ...

A replacement for Cleary has not been named.

In late 1997, the Jacobs Group had put its future in the hands of Barry D. Kaufman, whom it hired away from Sears, Roebuck and Co. to become president and chief operating officer.

Kaufman was fired after nine months, and Cleary, who had assumed the position of vice chairman when Kaufman was hired, gained back the titles of president and COO.

"I'd call him a stand-up guy," said Albert B. Ratner, co-chair of Forest City Enterprises Inc., a publicly traded company that owns, develops, acquires and manages commercial and residential property nationally.

Before joining Jacobs in 1981, Cleary spent 28 years with the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America as senior vice president of the mortgage and real estate division.

Cleary also is a director of Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America and is an ex officio trustee and former president of the International Council of Shopping Centers ...

Cleary, who typically acts as Jacobs' spokesman, did not return calls yesterday."

E-mail: cthomas@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 2-28-01, By Debbie Gebolys, Dispatch Business Reporter

"Lazarus to close two older stores

... Out are stores at Northland Mall and on Henderson Road ...

The Northland store will close by October [2001], casting further doubt on the future of the troubled Morse Road mall, which also is losing J.C. Penney ...

Northland ... changed hands ... when developer Richard Jacobs gave it to a creditor, Cigna Corp., as part of his plan to get rid of his real-estate holdings. Jacobs resorted to the transaction after failing to find any buyers for the 36-year-old mall.

Jones Lang LaSalle, managers of Northland since the transfer of ownership, didn't return calls yesterday. Some observers say the Atlanta- based firm's task might have changed from difficult to impossible.

"It makes it even less likely for Northland to continue as a retail only center,'' said Christopher Boring, a retail consultant.

" ... Jones Lang LaSalle might keep Northland open as a place to get rid of merchandise retailers can't get rid of elsewhere. But that's about the best they can hope for.''

Jim Newton, a DeVry Institute retail economist, agrees.

"There is no way Northland can survive as a purely retail institution,'' he said. "Maybe it can be converted into something else -- a retail/office space mixture, ... "

Last week, the Northland Disney store closed shortly after the exits of Naturalizer shoes and Coffee Beanery. Yesterday, at least four others were known to be closing: Lechter's Housewares, Mothertime Maternity and two bankrupt chains, Paul Harris and Bugle Boy ..."

dgebolys@dispatch.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 3-26-01, By Stan Bullard

``Jacobs Group exec heads to Columbus

Thomas Henneberry, a Richard E. Jacobs Group executive vice president who ran its architectural and construction units and shepherded the Chagrin Highlands megaproject, plans to exit the Westlake-based real estate development firm March 31 [2001].

Mr. Henneberry will join Pizzuti Cos., a Columbus-based office and industrial developer. Mr. Henneberry will become Pizzuti's president and chief operating officer, a new position. Mr. Henneberry, who joined Jacobs Group in 1973, didn't return three phone calls.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Columbus Dispatch, 7-30-01,

By Steve Stephens, Dispatch Metro Columnist

``Mall's life cycle runs from Saks to flea market

... I worked in a mall for a decade and still bear the psychic scars. The nadir was the Great Cabbage Patch Shortage of 1984, a disaster that nearly brought down Western civilization and prepared me for the murder, the mayhem and man's inhumanity to man I would witness as a police reporter ...

Every mall eventually transmogrifies from bazaar to bizarre.

Bass loafers, sooner or later, are replaced with Billy the singing bass.

Southland, once a pleasant second-tier mall, has become a third-tier flea market that sells psychic readings and T-shirts, clean as well as dirty (in both senses). The only customers seem to be psychics purchasing T-shirts and T-shirt vendors having their palms read ... ''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Columbus Dispatch, 7-29-01, By Jim Weiker, Dispatch Business Reporter

``Columbus has shopping in the bag

... Forget college football. When it comes to national rankings, the local powerhouse is shopping.

Columbus has more retail space per person than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and dozens of other major cities, according to the National Research Bureau, which tracks retail statistics.

Only six U.S. metropolitan areas have more shopping space per capita than Columbus, and nearly all of them are busy tourist areas -- Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Denver and Virginia Beach. The sixth is the Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, area.

The rankings do not include Polaris Fashion Place and the second phase of Easton Town Center, two of the nation's 10 biggest retail projects of 2001, both of which will open this fall ...

Retail meccas

Columbus ranks in the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for amount of retail space per person. It's one of the few cities on the list that is not a major tourist destination.

Fort Lauderdale 30.8

Orlando 28.8

Atlanta 27.2

Denver 24.7

Norfolk-Virginia Beach 24.6

Fort Worth-Arlington 24.6

Columbus 24.3

Phoenix 23.9

Kansas City 23.8

Tampa-St. Petersburg 22.9

U.S. Average 16.2

Source: National Research Bureau

Cincinnati and Cleveland, by comparison, are shopping lightweights. They rank 21st and 24th respectively in terms of retail space per person ...

Atlanta and Columbus are the only cities that can each claim two of the 10 largest shopping centers being built this year [2001] in the United States ...''

jweiker@dispatch.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 8-21-01, By Mya Frazier, Plain Dealer Reporter

``The Limited, Victoria's Secret and Express leaving Galleria

At the Galleria in downtown Cleveland, more than a third of the retail space is empty. And it's about to get worse.

At Saturday's close, The Limited, Express and Victoria's Secret will shut their doors for good, becoming the latest major retailers to pull out of the Jacobs Group's struggling mall. In January, Eddie Bauer and Williams-Sonoma closed their stores there.

Today, 17 storefronts are vacant, and many of the remaining 32 retailers are nervous about extending their leases or investing in store improvements, particularly because of uncertainty about the 15-year-old retail complex's ownership.

In December, the Jacobs Group began trying to sell the Galleria, the Tower at Erieview and the McDonald Investment Center for about $230 million. They are still on the market ...

The Tower at Erieview is an office building built in 1964. It was one of the first urban redevelopment projects in the country. In 1986, Jacobs built the Galleria dining and retail center on the site of a plaza next to the 736,000-square-foot tower.

... analysts are concerned, particularly because of the types of name-brand tenants that are leaving.

"When the good tenants leave your property and your mall, that usually spells big trouble," said Rich Moore, a retail analyst with Cleveland-based investment house McDonald Investments. "Those are the kind of tenants that bring in customers. It's a cascading effect. You lose those quality tenants and then the others start going and pretty soon you don't have a good site anymore. This is serious. This doesn't sound good for them."

Jeff Linton, a spokesman for the Jacobs Group, said the store closings had nothing to do with the attempt to sell the property ... ''

Contact Mya Frazier at: mfrazier@plaind.com, 216-999-3903

NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-22-01, By Corwin A. Thomas, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Jacobs Group hands over Galleria

After months of trying to sell its declining mall and watching major tenants leave, the Richard E. Jacobs Group has transferred ownership of the Galleria and Tower at Erieview back to the mortgage holder.

The mall is now owned by CG Galleria LLC and CG Erieview LLC - companies set up by mortgage-holder Connecticut Federal Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Cigna. Connecticut Federal owned the mall, tower and land before Jacobs. The swap was completed Thursday ...

In a written statement, Jacobs said the change will mean little for tenants because he will continue to manage the mall.

"The property simply will have a new owner," he said. "Other than that, it will be business as usual." ...

Jacobs would not give financial details about the swap, specifically about whether it affects the remainder of his portfolio.

"It's not a good sign for the Galleria," said Richard Moore, a senior vice president and research analyst for McDonald Investments Inc., who said that this type of ownership change is common in real estate.

The Galleria has space for 62 stores and 10 food court outlets. Officials would not say how many tenants the mall has.

Mall spokesman Jeff Linton also would not say how much money Jacobs owed on the mall or what its market value is. But he said Jacobs will repay the $3.3 million Urban Development Action Grant loan he used to acquire the property. Linton did not say when the loan had to be paid in full ... ''

Contact Corwin A. Thomas at: cthomas@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-13-01,

``What's left of empire

The Richard E. Jacobs Group has sold 21 shopping malls and transferred three others, including the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland, back to the mortgage holder.

The remaining 14 properties in the Jacobs portfolio include one mall each in California, Indiana, Washington and North Carolina and two each in Missouri and Nebraska.

Remaining Ohio malls are:

Belden Village in Canton.

Midway Mall in Elyria.

SouthPark Center in Strongsville.

Richland Mall in Mansfield.

Westgate Mall in Fairview Park.

Eastland Mall in Columbus. ''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-13-01, By Mya Frazier, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Tenants looking for a savior

Kenny Faraj wants some certainty. From behind the counter of his Great Steak & Potato Co. in Westgate Mall, he has helplessly watched over the last two years as the shuttered storefronts grew to 18, daily crowds thinned and his sales dropped to levels not seen since the recession of 1991.

Faraj blames the exodus on the "for sale" status of the 1-million-square-foot Fairview Park shopping center ...

The mall is among 14 nationwide, including six in Ohio, still offered for sale by the Richard E. Jacobs Group ... Richard Jacobs, the 76-year-old founder...

The six Ohio properties are being marketed as a group.

In addition to Westgate, they are Belden Village Mall in Canton, Midway Mall in Elyria, SouthPark Center in Strongsville, Richland Mall in Mansfield and Eastland Mall in Columbus.

And there's only one confirmed suitor: Westfield Holdings, the Australian parent company of Los Angeles-based Westfield America.

Jeff Linton, a spokesman for the Jacobs Group who works at Cleveland public relations firm Dix & Eaton, confirmed that there have been negotiations with Westfield. "There's no deal yet," Linton said ...

Richard Moore, a retail analyst with McDonald Investments of Cleveland ... said CBL & Associates Properties Inc. is the only real estate company making acquisitions besides Westfield. But the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based real estate investment trust already has what it wants of the Jacobs empire -- the 21 malls ... ''

Contact Mya Frazier at mfrazier@plaind.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 12-6-01, By Corwin A. Thomas, Plain Dealer Reporter

[$40 million cash -- for 9 malls?]

``The Richard E. Jacobs Group has signed a letter of intent to sell nine malls - four in Ohio - to Westfield America Trust for $756 million in cash, stock and debt.

As part of the deal, which is expected to close at the end of February, Westfield, based in Sydney, Australia, will issue $210 million in stock, assume $506 million in debt and pay $40 million in cash.

The four Ohio malls are Belden Village Mall in Canton, Midway Mall in Elyria, Richland Mall in Mansfield and SouthPark Center in Strongsville.

The other malls are in Seattle; Lincoln, Neb.; Gastonia, N.C.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Merrillville, Ind ...

Westfield said the quality and locations of the retail complexes will complement its existing portfolio by providing a cluster of malls in Ohio. Westfield has a stake in about 40 U.S. malls.

Westfield said the occupancy of its new malls is 87 percent, below the average of 94 percent at its other malls.

Westfield has identified five potential redevelopment projects at the nine properties being acquired. It did not specify if any of the redevelopment projects are in Ohio ... ''

Contact Corwin A. Thomas at cthomas@plaind.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 12-6-01, By JAHI M. HARVEY, Morning Journal Writer

[Midway Mall sold]

``ELYRIA -- Midway Mall is set to change hands as part of a $756 million, nine-mall deal between The Richard E. Jacobs Group and Australia-based Westfield America Trust.

Besides the local mall on SR 57, the deal includes South Park Center in Strongsville, Belden Village in Canton and Richland Mall in Mansfield. The other five malls are in other states.

Westgate Mall in Fairview Park also is owned by the Jacobs Group and is for sale, but is not part of the Westfield deal.

Midway Mall representatives wouldn't comment last night, but a spokesman for the Jacobs Group said Midway Mall customers won't be affected by the change in ownership.

''For shoppers and residents, it should be a seamless transition,'' said Jeff Linton ..., [of Dix & Eaton, a Cleveland public relations firm]

The malls generate a total of $1.9 billion in sales each year. As part of the deal, Westfield will assume $506 million in debt and issue $40 million in cash with $210 million in equity to the Jacobs Group.

The transaction will be completed in spring 2002, according to the Jacobs Group.

Linton said he didn't have an individual price for Midway Mall.

''Nobody's really talking about the pricing of any individual properties,'' said Linton. ''I don't have that information and the (two) companies aren't giving it out.''

Westfield Managing Director Peter Lowry said in a press release yesterday that the nine-mall acquisition will give the company a stronger foothold in the American mall market and bring its total stake in the business to 48 malls nationwide, worth $5.8 billion in when the deal closes.

Linton called the company ''a big player'' in the mall business.

''Westfield's a very strong company that has been growing its U.S. presence in the last several years,'' he said.

The Jacobs Group currently owns such properties as the Key Center and the McDonald Investment Center in Cleveland and the Pier House Hotel & Resort in Key West, Fla.

The group has sold off more notable properties in recent years, including the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-7-05, by Christopher Montgomery, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Jacobs family feud leads to suit

Nephew accuses ex-owner of Indians of mishandling millions to help himself

With his brother David, Dick Jacobs built from scratch one of the country's first shopping-mall empires - 38 malls dotting 15 states as well as a clutch of other real estate holdings. In the process, he became a Cleveland titan, owner of the Indians, developer of the state's tallest building, Key Tower.

When he sold off large parts of his empire several years ago for $2 billion, it was seen as the culmination of a proud career that lasted nearly half a century.

Now a lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland is threatening to tarnish that rags-to-riches story. Dick Jacobs' nephew is accusing the real estate mogul of mishandling private family trusts and partnerships that Dick gained control of when David died in 1992.

David Jacobs Jr. alleges that Dick Jacobs has misspent at least $448 million at the expense of his brother's family to enrich himself and his company, Westlake-based Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. ...

As their fortune grew, David and Dick Jacobs established private trusts to protect their wealth and pass it on to their families. They named each other as trustees. When David died, Dick, now 79, became responsible for two trusts whose beneficiaries are David's widow, Barbara, and children, David Jr., John and Marie.

As trustee, Jacobs was charged with investing and managing the trusts' assets and regularly distributing income to David's family. Instead, according to David Jr.'s lawsuit, Jacobs has engaged in a "systematic and ongoing campaign of self-dealing, self-interested transactions, imprudent investments, improper expenditures and breaches of fiduciary and contractual obligations."

David Jr. is seeking unspecified monetary damages, as well as the removal of Jacobs as trustee, the appointment of an independent trustee and a full accounting of financial transactions of the trusts and related family businesses ...

At issue is Dick Jacobs' role not only as trustee of the family trusts but also as controlling partner of two family businesses - Jacobs Realty Investors Ltd. and Jacobs Group Investment Co. The lawsuit alleges those businesses used the trusts' money to make investments. David Jr. is arguing that his uncle, by acting as both lender and borrower in transactions, can't fulfill his duties to the family trusts.

Greenberg, David Jr.'s attorney, wrote in a letter to a lawyer on the other side that there "is no question Richard E. Jacobs wears many hats and places himself on all sides of multimillion-dollar transactions."

One particular transaction involves a $200 million loan that Jacobs Group Investment Co., in which the family trusts are partners, made to three other businesses controlled by Dick Jacobs.

Dick personally guaranteed $150 million of the loan, according to the lawsuit, and one of the family trusts guaranteed the other $50 million.

The three businesses own a 1.2-acre site on Cleveland's Public Square and the old Ameritrust Bank complex at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue.

Jacobs bought the first site for $20.3 million in 1988 and once planned to build an office tower there. Those plans were scuttled in 1992 when the downtown real estate market tanked.

The Ameritrust complex of parking garages and office buildings cost Jacobs almost $50 million. It's now mostly vacant, but its fortunes could reverse if Cuyahoga County chooses the site for its administration building.

The $200 million loan, made in 1996, came due in 2001. Since then, Jacobs, as both lender and creditor, has extended the repayment deadline until 2010.

The lawsuit argues that the family trusts are in a similar situation with a $218 million loan by Jacobs Group Investment Co. to Jacobs Realty Investors. If that loan was called - that is, if Jacobs as lender demanded payment from Jacobs as creditor - the family trusts, partners in both businesses, would be able to buy more shares of Jacobs Realty and wrest control from Dick. He has refused to call the loan, the suit says.

And the lawsuit says Jacobs tapped the family trusts for excessive payments to Jacobs Group executives when he sold off large portions of his real estate holdings in 2000 and 2001. In particular, during the $1.2 billion sale of 21 shopping malls to CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the lawsuit says, Jacobs improperly used money from Jacobs Realty Investors to pay more than $30 million to Jacobs Group for "stay pay" packages enticing executives to remain through the transaction.

In the news release that accompanied the lawsuit, David Jr. said he is "trying to do what my father did - preserve for my mother and our family, including my nieces and nephews, the estate that he built over his lifetime." ...''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: cmontgomery@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-27-05, by Christopher Montgomery, Plain Dealer Reporter

``For sale: Ohio's tallest building

Jacobs puts Key Tower, other buildings on market

Key Tower, the building that redefined Cleveland's skyline when it opened in 1991, is for sale. If a deal goes through, it will be another major step in the dismantling of a real estate empire that took the tower's owner, developer Dick Jacobs, decades to build.

Jacobs put Key Tower on the auction block in the last two weeks. Eastdil Realty, a New York real estate investment banking firm, is marketing the building. Included in the deal are the adjacent properties that make up Key Center: a 403-room Marriott hotel and the 10-story Society for Savings building.

A spokesman for Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc., of Westlake, said the developer decided to sell the 57-story tower at the request of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio. The pension fund, which owns 50 percent of the complex, is trying to reduce its investments in office real estate, which has lagged other sectors in recent years ...

It's up for sale at a time when Cleveland's office market is the weakest it has been in years. Downtown vacancy rates are hovering around 20 percent, with little sign that a major recovery is on the horizon.

Key Tower also is being sold at the same time as one of Cleveland's other major office landmarks: BP Tower. Its owner, Equity Office Properties Trust, of Chicago, put the 45-story building up for sale in February [2005] ...

Putting Key Center on the market is the latest in a string of recent sales for Jacobs. Earlier this year he sold a stake in Westgate Mall in Fairview Park to real estate companies in Chicago and New York that plan to redevelop the ailing shopping center.

Last week, Jacobs sold 17 of his 19 hotels to New York's Och Ziff Capital Management hedge fund for an undisclosed price. He still owns a resort in Key West, Fla., the Ameritrust complex in downtown Cleveland that's in the running for the new Cuyahoga County administration building, and the 600-acre, mixed-use Chagrin Highlands development in the eastern suburbs [and land in Avon]. ''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: cmontgomery@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 5-1-05, by Christopher Montgomery, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Downtown vacancy rates high, but decline expected

Cleveland's two biggest office buildings, Key Tower and BP Tower, are up for sale at a time when the downtown office market is mired in its worst downturn since the early 1990s ...

Rob Roe, president of the Cleveland office of Staubach Co., a commercial real estate firm that represents tenants, said he's confident it can't get any worse.

"It's pretty hard to fall off the floor," Roe said. "Whether we can get off the floor is another story."

The downturn has left many of Cleveland's office buildings with unhealthy vacancy rates: 36 percent at BP Tower, 25 percent at Skylight Office Tower, 21 percent at One Cleveland Center.

That's according to first-quarter figures from the Cleveland office of commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Inc. It found that downtown's overall vacancy rate rose in the first three months of 2005, to 22 percent from 20.6 percent at the end of last year ...''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: cmontgomery@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 8-28-02, By J.P. SULLIVAN, Morning Journal Writer

``Records: Deals cost taxpayers over $500,000

ELYRIA -- While 90 percent of all commercial and residential real estate transfers result in Lorain County receiving conveyance fees, two large commercial parcels recently changed hands without the fees being paid, costing taxpayers more than $500,000, according to county records.

The Lorain County Auditor's Office confirmed that the sale of Midway Mall to the Westfield Group in April [2002] ... produced no conveyance fees ... If paid, the Midway Mall sale would have netted the county an estimated $400,000 ...

Westfield's purchase of Midway Mall from the Richard E. Jacobs Group, while legal, used a loophole in an exemption to avoid paying its fee.

Exemption ''M'' of Ohio's real property conveyance fee schedule allows the fee to be waived if a property transfer ''is to or from a person when no money or other valuable and tangible consideration readily convertible into money is paid and that the transaction is not a gift.''

Instead of cash, Westfield's $756 million purchase of malls in six states including Midway Mall involved the transfer of ''partnership units.''

Cleveland-based tax attorney Tim Armstrong, who represents Lorain County on tax issues, said yesterday that the $756 million purchase only resulted in the Jacobs Group mall partnership being ''merged and reorganized'' with Westfield's mall partnership ...''

[ NOTE: Richard Jacobs still has the potential for two major developments -- Chagrin Highlands and what was formerly known as Vista in Avon.]

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-11-09. Posted by Peter Krouse

``Jacobs family feud going back to court

A financial feud between former Indians owner Dick Jacobs and his late brother's children is far from over ...

A federal judge has scheduled a settlement conference between both sides for Monday [4-13-09]. At issue is how much money Dick Jacobs should be paid for his services as trustee for his brother's children.

David Jr. and his two siblings said in court documents that their uncle is seeking $120 million. They contend he's owed nothing ...

The dispute evolved from a lawsuit filed by David Jacobs Jr. in 2004 and later joined by brother John and sister Marie. The siblings claimed their uncle misappropriated at least $448 million held in trust for his brother's family, instead using it to benefit himself and his development company, Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc.

The suit accused Dick Jacobs of an "ongoing campaign of conflicts of interest, self-interested transactions and self-dealing." It called for his ouster as trustee ...

In 2007, Dick Jacobs sued his late brother's children, saying he was entitled to compensation for his services as trustee since 1992 ...

The siblings said in court documents that it was their understanding, as well as that of their late mother, that Dick had chosen not to take any fees as trustee.

"It is not clear to us what exactly you are asking us to approve," David Jr. said in a response letter. "If you are asking us to bless (or consent to) your taking a fee for past services, please understand that we will not do so."

Both sides issued a variety of motions over the past two years, and in December each side subpoenaed information from accounting firms used by the other ...''

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