Dillard's kills rumor of plans for downtown

Sunday, October 4, 1998

Is there anything to the rumor that Dillard's Inc. might open a store downtown? Not according to its real estate people.

Reports emerged last week that Dillard's still may put a store in the Fifth and Race Tower, the locale once slated for a now-defunct Maison Blanche project. But Wes Cherry, vice president of real estate at Dillard's, said the retailer isn't likely to target an urban market.

"That would be just completely out of character for Dillard's," Mr. Cherry said.

"Our strength typically is night and weekend business and you don't typically do that in downtown settings."

Dillard's has been primarily a suburban retailer for all its 60 years. Only about five of its 362 stores are in downtowns.

As for the changes that are more definite, Mr. Cherry said the transformation of the local McAlpin's name to Dillard's will occur slowly, perhaps taking two years.

"That McAlpin's name is so strong and so well respected that I think it will be a very gradual transition," he said.

Dillard's acquired Mercantile Stores Co. Inc., parent of McAlpin's and Maison Blanche, in August.

-- Lisa Biank Fasig

Where the ATM fees go

When it comes to charging fees to pull off megabank mergers, investment bankers apparently believe in parity.

Star Banc Corp. and Firstar Corp. paid some big-league fees when they got advice on how to merge the relatively small regional banks.

Firstar agreed to pay its advisers Merrill Lynch & Co. $20 million for its services, while Cincinnati-based Star will shell out about $8.3 million in advisory fees to Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents.

The amount Firstar is paying is equal to the $20 million that Banc One Corp. agreed to pay to its two investment bankers for advice on Columbus-based Banc One's merger with First Chicago NBD Bancorp. First Chicago agreed to pay its two advisers $30 million in fees. The Star-Firstar merger will create the nation's 21st largest bank with with assets of about $38 billion, while the Banc One-First Chicago NBD deal will create the nation's fifth-largest bank with assets of about $230 billion.

-- Jeff McKinney

Still life with sweeper

For professional organizer Mike McCalmount, the in-house office of the Hyde Park doctor was beyond disorganized, the worst he had ever seen: a stack of 5-year-old medical journals on the desk and ready to topple, a built-in cupboard overflowing to the floor, a desk without an inch of empty space, boxes on the floor spilling into a breakfast room, back patio doors blocked with boxes.

Eventually, order came to the room, but it was not easy. None of his jobs are. "I've cleaned linen closets, dressers and basements," he said.

With this week designated "National Get Organized Week," Mr. McCalmount, an Anderson Township resident, offers small-business slobs some free but solidly professional and optimistic advice: "It is not hopeless. Don't give up. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, and businesses can get organized one drawer, one shelf, one table at a time."

-- John Eckberg

Banking on a name

Retaining the name Centennial played a key role in the merger announced last week between Fidelity Financial of Ohio Inc. and Glenway Financial Corp, creating Cincinnati's largest thrift.

Though Fidelity Financial, parent of Fidelity Federal Savings Bank, will pay about $48 million in cash and stock to buy Glenway Financial, parent of Centennial Savings Bank, officials of both companies chose the Centennial moniker for its branches.

Part of the rationale is that Centennial has been in Cincinnati since 1876, picking up its name from, well, the nation's first centennial. Another factor: Fidelity's name often gets confused with those of other entities: Fidelity Investments, Fidelity Mortgage and Fidelity Financial Services.

-- Jeff McKinney

Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters and compiled by Lisa Biank Fasig of the business staff.

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