Tuttle Mall backers spent $518,000 on zoning referendum

The Columbus Dispatch – June 12, 1993

Supporters of the mall at Tuttle Crossing spent $14 per ”yes” vote on the May 4 referendum that could have overturned the zoning for the Northwest Side mall.

Reports filed yesterday at the Franklin County Board of Elections showed the pro-mall political action committee, Citizens for Columbus Jobs and Schools, spent about $518,000 in an election where 36,242 voted to uphold the mall zoning.

Also, more than $50,000 worth of services were contributed by the mall developers.

The anti-mall PAC, Families Against Forced Zoning, spent about $11,000. The 22,007 votes against the mall mean they spent roughly 50 cents for each ”no” vote.

Jack McKitrick, elections director, said the $500,000-plus spent by mall supporters ”has to be one of highest amounts in history. If not the top, then it has to be among the top (amounts) ever spent on one issue.”

”I’ve personally never broken it down that way, but it does seem like quite a bit” of money per vote, McKitrick said. ”But then again, that had a chance of a compromise right up to the eleventh hour; then they had to spend what they thought it took to get their message across – all in only the last month before the election.”

Pete Edwards and The Limited, developers of the 1-million-square-foot mall to be built southeast of Tuttle Crossing Boulevard and I-270, were the leading backers of the pro-mall PAC. Citizens for Columbus Jobs and Schools received $292,000 plus $41,000 in in-kind support from Limited Services Corp. It got $190,000 from Tuttle Road Limited Partnership, of which Edwards is general partner.

The pro-mall PAC spent nearly $120,000 for television and radio advertisements. The anti-mall PAC spent most of its $11,000 on campaign literature and weekly newspaper advertisements.

The pro-mall PAC also paid:

About $174,000 to Murphy Epson for direct mailings, signs, banners and newspaper advertising.

Nearly $60,000 to New York City-based Penn & Schoen to operate phone banks.

About $43,000 to Griffin Public Relations for consulting, conducting public meetings and direct mailings.

About $40,000 to Saperstein Associates for public opinion surveys.

Ann Gates, assistant treasurer of Families Against Forced Zoning, said that getting 38 percent of the vote for about 50 cents a vote ”indicates that a good number of people knew what this issue really was about.”

”They (mall backers) ran the finest election money could buy,” she said. ”It gives a new meaning to a grass-roots campaign, which they claimed this was by citizens interested in the Columbus schools.”

Edwards’ spokeswoman Lisa Griffin said, ”Obviously, a 62 percent vote (in favor of the mall zoning) showed grass-roots support for the campaign.”