former owner, developer Dick Jacobs dies at 83
CLEVELAND -- Richard E. "Dick" Jacobs, the commercial real estate mogul and former Cleveland Indians owner who helped refurbish downtown Cleveland and turned its baseball team into a winner, has passed away after a lengthy illness. He was 83.
Jacobs, a pioneer shopping-mall developer, was chairman and chief executive officer of what is now called the Richard E. Jacobs Group. He founded the firm with his late brother, David, and Dominic Visconsi in 1955. The firm confirmed his death this morning.
The Westlake-based company developed the 57-story Key Center on Public Square, the tallest building between New York and Chicago. It was called the Society Center when it was built in 1991. In 1987, Jacobs' firm developed the first retail shopping mall in downtown Cleveland: the Galleria at Erieview, East 9th Street and St. Clair Avenue.
Other local developments include the Cleveland Marriott at Key Center, McDonald Investment Center at 800 Superior Ave., Westgate Mall in Fairview Park, Belden Village Mall in Canton, Midway Mall in Elyria, SouthPark Center in Strongsville and the Chagrin Highlands office and research park in Beachwood.
Although Jacobs made his fortune in real estate, he became more widely known when he and his brother, David, bought the Indians from the Steve O'Neill estate in late 1986. The price was $40 million. His brother died in 1992.
The Indians had been one of the weakest teams in baseball over the previous 30 years.
The team was restored during the Jacobs regime, winning two American League pennants, in 1995 and 1997. They were the first Cleveland pennants since 1954.
Jacobs quickly established his low-key management style on the day he bought the club. "There is no Walter Mitty in me," he said.
Jacobs promised to run the club with sound business fundamentals. He wanted to "stay out of the way" and hire baseball experts to direct the team. He never told them what to do, only that they keep him informed, operate within the budget and be successful.
Jacobs attended most Indians games, sitting in his loge behind home plate. He seemed to be uninterested in seeing his picture in the paper or in being interviewed. On the rare occasions when he was interviewed, he spoke briefly, often deferring questions to publicists or team officials who were present.