Broker exits DCI after drugstore tiff

Sunday, June 28, 1998

The drugstore wars on Race Street have created another wedge between downtown development hawks. A Cincinnati broker, who represents the owners of one of the two buildings in the dispute, has resigned from the Downtown Cincinnati Inc. retail development committee.

Mark Fallon of Jeffery R. Anderson real estate submitted a letter to David Ginsburg, vice president of the downtown advocacy group's retail arm, citing opposing objectives for development of the central business district.

The city administration has threatened to take the Newberry Building at Sixth and Race streets by eminent domain, ultimately to make it home to Walgreens. The store must be moved from the Fifth & Race Tower before the city and its partner in the Fifth & Race - Parkade redevelopment can demolish the building. Walgreens wants the Newberry site and because of a clause in its lease, will receive almost $1 million if it is dissatisfied with the relocation.

Meanwhile, the Newberry owners, Rookwood Properties, are wrapping up redevelopment to open a CVS - Revco drugstore there this summer. The owners have contested the city's plans to take the building.

The crux of Mr. Fallon's resignation was DCI's presentation to the Planning Commission June 19, the letter said. Mr. Fallon said the presentation didn't reflect the retail committee's unanimous decision to support Walgreens. If the city's plan to fight for the building passes the commission, it will go before City Council for final approval.

Of course, the city's plan would be in Mr. Fallon's interest. He likely would receive a commission from the $1.3 million sale of the Newberry's neighbor, the Merchant's Building, which would be bought by Western-Southern as part of the city's plan.

-- Perry Brothers

Gibson mum on closing

Gibson Greetings Inc. continues to enjoy the popularity of its Silly Slammers beanbag toys -- perhaps its single most successful product -- but remains mum on the subject of its manufacturing plant closing.

Gibson, in March, said it intended to shutter its Amberley Village plant and dismiss 480 workers. According to plan, the phaseout would begin in June and conclude at year-end, as Gibson transferred the work to outside sources.

More recently, Gibson has declined to detail progress of the shuttering. But last week, a spokesman did confirm that it is indeed under way.

"We continue on track to be completely outsourced by the end of the year," spokesman Gary Rhodes said.

Meanwhile, corporate life goes on. Silly Slammers, which have been manufactured outside of Gibson from the beginning, are reaching retail venues that are anything but silly. Most recently: The upscale Bloomingdale's is advertising that it carries them.

-- Lisa Biank Fasig

King's plans unclear

Boxing promoter Don King is ready to enter another ring -- the newspaper ring -- but he is unsure what his fight plan will be.

Mr. King, who has made millions working with boxing legends from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, became a publisher this month when he bid $760,000 to buy control of the Call & Post. The Ohio weekly newspaper covers communities in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Charles Lomax, lawyer for Mr. King, said the flamboyant promoter has decided to keep the newspaper's base in Cleveland but hasn't finalized plans on how he wants to run the paper. It has not been determined whether the paper's editorial content will change or how distribution might be affected.

Mr. Lomax said the Call & Post will continue to be distributed in Cincinnati.

When asked why Mr. King bought a newspaper, Mr. Lomax replied: "I don't know. You have to ask Don King."

That would be kind of tough now because Mr. King is in trial in New York for insurance fraud in a boxing-related case.

-- Jeff McKinney

Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters.

Business Headlines for Sunday, June 28, 1998

PNC focuses on fees