Jacobs Malls Not Salable?

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

"Jacobs says Columbus malls not for sale

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Mall owner Richard Jacobs says he's bewildered by those who thought his three Columbus malls were part of the plan he announced this week to sell most of his 38 malls and 19 hotels ...

Jacobs said he never intended to sell the local malls and remained committed to upgrading Northland if he can stop a new mall planned a few miles away at Polaris Centers of Commerce.

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.

Jacobs has waged a public battle against the developers of the proposed Polaris Fashion Place mall that he says would kill Northland by drawing away its anchor stores. Jacobs' allies collected enough signatures on petitions to force the issue onto the November [1999] ballot ...

One mall analyst questioned whether the news conference helped Jacobs restore his credibility with Northland supporters who believed the mall was going to be sold.

"He looks bad in Columbus now," Richard Moore of McDonald Investments in Cleveland told The Columbus Dispatch for a story today. "I don't know that this makes him look better. He is clearly exiting the business."

Analyst John Roberts of Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, Ky., said keeping the local malls probably isn't viable if Columbus developer Herbert Glimcher moves forward with his Polaris mall.

"He's doing this to spite Herb," Roberts said.

Annie Hall, lobbyist for Bank One, the largest employer at the 1,125-acre 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.""

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, The Columbus Dispatch, By Jeff Brehm, Saturday, September 18, 1999

"If Jacobs didn't care about mall, why should we?

... The ironic part is that the most vocal Polaris Fashion Place mall opponents are lower- to middle-class people who feel sorry for a wealthy developer who has as much in common with them as a White Castle hamburger does with whatever is served at the captain's table of Les Wexner's yacht.

Richard Jacobs, who built Northland Mall a generation ago and since has been in Columbus about as many times as Saddam Hussein has visited the White House, either was too busy making (and spending) money elsewhere or too shortsighted to watch the growth of the city move farther north.

Finally, years after work on Polaris Centers of Commerce began, Jacobs suddenly realized Polaris will do to Northland what his Eastland Mall project did to the Town and Country Shopping Center -- take the stores and shoppers away.

But instead of doing what a true entrepreneur and worthy competitor would do -- reinvest in Northland to make it attractive again -- Jacobs took the cheap-shot way out, crying foul and appealing to his close personal friends, the middle- class folks in the Northland area, for help.

Never mind that Jacobs himself accepted tax incentives for a mall he's building in another state ..."

Jeff Brehm, Lancaster, Ohio

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