Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WTF?: 20 years later, Sam Miller finally gets his wish

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Sam Miller, seen here doing his most villainous laugh.
In their ongoing quest to blowtorch your wallet, then stomp it to death while doing Cherokee war cries, Cuyahoga County commissioners may have fashioned their worst deal yet to build a new convention center/medical mart in Cleveland. In an ongoing series, Ace Reporter Lisa Rab breaks down the absurdity of the deal for those of you scoring at home: Last week, we explained how the county commissioners were considering building the new convention center behind Tower City mall, on the banks of the Cuyahoga. Since the plan basically involves giving $1.3 billion of your money to a private developer, picking the most expensive site is critical to the project. That’s the beauty of wasting money the Cuyahoga County commissioners’ way! … There are naturally an abundance of sites downtown offering what many consider essential to building large structures: level, stable land. But the Tower City site would require millions to shore up the river bank, build the center on stilts, and knock out some of the mall’s movie theaters. The problem is that stable sites could be owned by Someone Other Than Sam Miller. The river bank, by comparison, is Owned By Sam Miller. Which makes this deal a no-brainer. As you know from previous episodes, Miller, co-chairman of Forest City and sugar daddy to the Democratic Party, has been trying for years to get government to prop up his dying Tower City mall. Though the mall itself was constructed with hundreds of millions in welfare, that apparently wasn’t enough. According to the website of Merchandise Mart Properties, the Chicago company that will own and run the convention center, Miller has been jonesing for this deal for two decades. “Cleveland-based developer Forest City Enterprises first posited the idea of a medical mart in Cleveland in the mid-1980s,” the site states. “Forest City proposed converting one of its Tower City holdings, the former U.S. Post Office building that now houses the engineering firm Washington Group International’s offices, into a showplace for medical products.” Now, 20 years later, Miller may finally get his wish. It’s likely the most expensive site commissioners could possibly choose. But at least it goes to a good cause: Sam Miller. –Lisa Rab Previously on Medical Mart Watch: Why convention centers are the VHS of civic investment tools How you’ll pick up the tab for the convention center, but not even own it!



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