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Jackson deal 'fairly dead in the water'

Jackson deal 'fairly dead in the water'

#1  Сообщение Trueamore » 18 июн 2011, 22:51

Councilwoman: Jackson deal 'fairly dead in the water'

GARY | One phrase appears multiple times in a deal between Gary and the Jackson Family Foundation: "Time is of the essence."

Yet a year after Gary agreed to give the unknown Las Vegas group hundreds of city acres, even organizers admit little has been done.

Gary Economic Development Director Joel Rodriguez called the project "still in preliminary stages."

"There's a lot of components as part of this particular project," Rodriguez said. "We're here to help them."

While Rodriguez expressed optimism, some Gary City Council members call the deal all but dead.

"As far as we're concerned, nothing has happened," said Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st. "I consider it fairly dead in the water."

Sounding the trumpets

On June 2, 2010, a year after former Gary resident and music icon Michael Jackson died, the city teamed with the Jackson Family Foundation -- led by Jackson patriarch Joe Jackson and Vegas developer Simon Sahouri -- in the hopes of building a $300 million megaplex dedicated to the King of Pop and his family.

The ambitious museum, theater and casino campus was touted as not only a memorial to Gary's most famous former resident but also as a way to restore Gary to its fruitful glory.

Months of seeming inaction and false starts followed.

"I think some of the press announcements were premature because of the financial condition this whole country is in," Krusas said.

Another deadline has come and gone. The city set May 31 for the group to resolve vital nonprofit status issues. It remains unclear if that happened.

City spokeswoman LaLosa Burns declined to comment or make Mayor Rudy Clay available to discuss the project, referring questions to Sahouri.

Burns and Rodriguez said Sahouri would be in Gary last week. Sahouri has not returned multiple calls from The Times during the past several months, including last week.

What's in a name?

To get 300 acres of city land at Interstate 94 and Broadway, the foundation must be 501(c)(3) tax-exempt -- a nonprofit tax group.

Attempting to attain the status has not been without drama.

In December, the foundation merged with an existing nonprofit, officers of which The Times revealed had faced fraud accusations.

City officials said the blunder would be fixed, and the foundation would go solo.

"They have their federal not-for-profit status from the IRS," Rodriguez said recently.

Internal Revenue Service records, however, do not list any tax-exempt Jackson-named group in Indiana.

The Times requested, but was not provided, proof of the group's status from the city. After an initial interview, Rodriguez did not return Times calls.

Time is money

The agreement signed a year ago offers incentives for meeting various deadlines.

It dangles property tax freedom as a carrot for construction. The land's tax-exempt status will lapse, for example, if construction doesn't start within two years of escrow closing.

Gary city attorney Susan Severtson did not respond to a Times request last week for more information on the escrow, which was supposed to close within 30 days of the June 2010 signing.

Also under the deal, Sahouri was to "make every good faith effort" to complete a feasibility study within eight months of signing.

San Jose, Calif.-based Aucopia Global LLC was contracted to conduct the study.

"We haven't been told anything at this particular point," Aucopia Director Frank Podesta said last week. "We're sitting by and doing nothing.

"We've been in waiting mode for them to get all their stuff together," he added. "We're in a holding pattern to see if it's even going to happen."

No dice?

According to Krusas, it won't.

The plan likely stalled after the Indiana General Assembly rejected a land-based casino in Gary, she said.

"I think that the whole project was predicated on (a casino)," she said.

"We all have great ideas, but if you don't have the money to do the development without any assistance, then all it is is an idea."

Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, said a Jackson venue "absolutely" should be a Steel City priority.

"It doesn't have to be this project, but there needs to be something in the city of Gary," she said.

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Gary prepares for 2nd anniversary

#2  Сообщение Trueamore » 24 июн 2011, 18:32

http://www.indystar.com/article/2011062 ... /106250302

Gary prepares for 2nd anniversary of Michael Jackson death

GARY, Ind. -- Michael Jackson's boyhood hometown of Gary plans to mark the second anniversary of his death Saturday with a memorial tribute at the house where he grew up.

The Post-Tribune of Merrillville reports the "Tribute to Michael" will include Jackson's music, vendors and a candlelight vigil at dusk. Local officials including Mayor Rudy Clay will speak. The event is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The family moved out of the house at 2300 Jackson Street and went to California after the Jackson 5 struck it big.

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, of an overdose of sedatives at the age of 50, just before he was to begin a comeback tour. Clay says the city of Gary plans to hold a tribute for Jackson every year.

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Michael Jackson complex in Gary, Ind., still largely a dream

#3  Сообщение Trueamore » 10 июл 2011, 18:37

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... ?track=rss

Michael Jackson complex in Gary, Ind., still largely a dream

As Michael Jackson fans this summer mark the two-year anniversary of his death, a group led by his father holds out hope it will deliver on promises for a $300-million tourist mecca in Gary, Ind., the battered steel town that was the pop superstar's boyhood home.

Last year, Joe Jackson and Gary Mayor Rudy Clay announced plans for the Jackson Family Center on 300 acres of city-owned land. The plans included moving the 1,000-square-foot Jackson house a few blocks to become part of a complex with a museum, performing arts center and perhaps a casino.

"The plans are moving along," said Orland Park, Ill., businessman Odie Anderson, who said he was the local point man for Joe Jackson's group. "We are in the process of hiring contractors."

The city still is hopeful Jackson's development group will be able to deliver on the glamorous proposal, which developers promised would bring more than 700,000 visitors and $150 million a year to a city that began a long, steep decline about the same time the Jackson 5 hit the charts with "I'll Be There" in 1969.

But Gary also set out numerous hurdles for Jackson's group, not least of which was securing financing for the project and the rights to Michael Jackson's likeness — which is closely guarded by the late performer's estate.

Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, joined Joe Jackson as an officer in the Jackson Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Joe Jackson's home state of Nevada in 2010 to lead the Gary project. Although Katherine Jackson draws an allowance from her son's estate and will inherit half of it, Joe Jackson was estranged from Michael for years and received nothing in his will.

Asked whether the estate had any involvement in a proposed Gary museum, Howard Weitzman, the estate's attorney, replied via email, "No!!"

Tax records for a nonprofit organization that merged with the Jackson Family Foundation in December list no assets or income. In corporation documents in Nevada, a for-profit development and marketing corporation created by Joe Jackson's group lists capital of $75,000.

The Jackson Family Foundation was required to provide proof it had attained federal tax-exempt status and complete a feasibility study for the project by January. It has done neither, Gary corporation counsel Susan Severtson said.

Further clouding the future is the fact the project's biggest booster, Clay, did not run for reelection. His term ends in January.

Jackson's attorney, Brian Oxman, acknowledges the project has encountered "obstacles."

"I know Joe has always wanted to do something in Gary," Oxman said. "That's where his life was. That's where his family was born. Who knows what can be done?"

Jackson died on June 25, 2009. On the second anniversary of his death last month, hundreds of fans gathered at the old family house in Gary to listen to music and remember the entertainer.

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