Sam Allard / Scene
The Plain Dealer Plaza at 1801 Superior Avenue
MinuteMen Staffing is expected to close on a purchase of the Plain Dealer building at 1801 Superior Ave., according to a report
published last week. Sources have previously told Scene negotiations were ongoing for months and advanced in nature. Those negotiations, of course, could fall apart.
The City of Cleveland had announced in June 2018 that it intended to purchase the building for its new headquarters for the Cleveland police. That plan, a $60 million project in all by that year's estimates, was abruptly called off by the city in September 2018.
"At this time the City of Cleveland no longer desires to pursue the purchase of 1801 Superior Avenue property for the Cleveland Division of Police Headquarters with GLP Superior LTD," the city wrote in a letter to developer Fred Geis, whose company was to buy the building from the PD and sell it to the city once construction and renovations were complete. "Thank you for working with the City on this important project."
There has been little public explanation from the city on why the deal fell through, but sources have explained to Scene two main problems. First, there were more subleases in the building than the city originally understood, and those leases extended far into the future — 2035, or so — which made them hard to renegotiate. Second, while most of those were able to be renegotiated at acceptable terms, some tenants were demanding exorbitant payouts to exit those leases and relocate. Chiefly, according to two sources, the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland, a nonprofit that runs the state's largest Head Start program and which has found itself in turmoil in recent years
, had demanded more than $3 million.
City council is set to soon examine the failed deal and the city's plans, which are still unknown, for the future police HQ.
The PD constructed the building for $38 million in 2002. The city planned on purchasing the building for $19.5 million. The terms of the impending sale to MinuteMen have not been disclosed.
"Although just about everyone in town seems to know details of what is going on with this building, I'm one of the very few people who are actually restricted from discussing it by a confidentiality agreement," Cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn told Scene in a statement. "I'm hoping we can announce something soon."
Samuel Lucarelli founded Minute Men Inc. in 1968, and it quickly became one of the region's most profitable and, some have argued, exploitative temporary staffing agencies. Even after Lucarelli was convicted of racketeering, his family business continued to explode. From Daniel Kerr's Derelict Paradise:
"Jason Lucarelli, who took over the family business, reflected, 'Everyone knows what happened to my father ... Obviously our customers don't care.' The state of Ohio and the City of Cleveland as well overlooked Samuel Lucarelli's transgressions as they turned to Minute Men Inc. and other private temporary agencies to fill their own labor needs."