Ukiah Mendocino: Slave Wage Mall Jobs Get DDR CEO His Castle

From Cleveland Magazine (August 2008)
A Tour of DDR CEO Scott Wolstein’s Castle RAVENCREST

[There’s an old Ry Cooder song “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich Makes Me Poor.” As Chinese slave-wage  sweatshop labor turns out more cheap crap for our storage lockers and landfill, Mendocino County is being offered 700 slave-wage, soul-killing dumb jobs here at home to dispose of it all from our very own Monster Mall, while they keep the high-paying smart jobs in Ohio. Meanwhile, the recently-resigned Monster Mall CEO enjoys this 36,000-square-feet castle. Before the hoardes of Ohio homeless and unemployed start coming over the hill for food and shelter, he best get the servants out digging the moat. Let’s take a tour, shall we? -DS]

When it’s time to get cleaned up, he hops in an 11-foot-long, custom-tiled porcelain shower. Afterward, he’ll relax and catch a show or two on the plasma TV that hangs just in front of the plush cushions he rests on.

Only we’re not referring to the man of the house. We’re talking about his dog.

What makes Wolstein’s house so special isn’t any one thing. It’s that it has everything: an infinity pool, indoor basketball court, indoor climbing wall, indoor pool with grotto-style hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room.

There’s also a discothèque, craft room, gift-wrapping room, dog’s room, greenhouse, wine cellar and wine tasting room. There is an elevator, an exercise room, sports bar and caterer’s kitchen. There are so many bathrooms that neither Wolstein’s builder nor architect knew how many, and, after giving us a tour of the entire home, everyone was too tired to go back and count them all…

Plenty of folks put nice trim in their house and spend a fortune on flooring. Few import salvaged stone from the streets of Jerusalem and hire artisans who use ancient wood-shaping tools like the adz to make things look just the right kind of old.

The first thing you notice is that it’s huge. The pass-through fireplace is nearly 13 feet long and open to the living room and dining room. The second thing you notice is the copper fireplace hood. Lots of companies produce copper panels that have been hammered for a distressed look. None of them were used at Ravencrest. Too manufactured. Too perfect.

Instead, Geoff Gilway, the owner of Gilway Roofing in Chagrin Falls, is responsible for the house’s slate roof, copper gutters — and the fireplace hood. But first Gilway had to create the perfect tool. A regular ball-peen hammer created too uniform an effect. So, using a grinder, he created a hammer with a more oval-shaped head. For 120 hours, Gilway pounded away at the copper. He’d hammer for three or four hours, then take a break.

The worst part? The shrill sound of hammer on metal. Gilway wore headphones, but it didn’t help. “You just get tired of the noise,” he says.

It took four months at an average of six hours per day to carve. “You start going blind,” says wood carver Jim Stadtlander, who made this finial, which tops the newel post on the staircase in Scott Wolstein’s home.

Though he also created four huge panels out of walnut to hang above the doorways in Wolstein’s house, Stadtlander says the finial was the biggest challenge. The four-sided design has a pagoda roof, windows and archways, birds, dogs, eagles and floral decorations. It’s unforgiving work. If Stadtlander makes even the tiniest mistake, he says he spends “hours and hours” trying to save the project.

Stadtlander, who is self-taught, works with mostly hand tools out of his Portage County studio. Though he does work for clients throughout the world, he says Wolstein’s home is unique. “I’ve done some very intricate work,” he says. “But not in this quantity.”

[Our taxes subsidize Big Box slave wages. The DDR execs don’t give a hoot about us here in Mendocino County. They just want to add us to the DDR empire as their colony, and maintain their crass, opulent lifestyles at our expense. Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities. -DS]

Be sure to read the comments section below…



Maybe DDR would like to post a video of a real estate type tour of Wolstein’s castle on YouTube . . . just to show us all what our money could support, if only we would vote for them.

Vote No on Measure A.

When I asked Tom Anderson to post this to the blog, he gave me permission to do it in his stead. Here’s what he said:


There is no need for concern for the corporate officers’ welfare in case Developers Diversified Realty goes bankrupt or they have to liquidate it.

The officers and directors never lose. It’s not their corporation; they just run it. That is the magic of separate ownership and management of the modern corporation; executive bonus and severance packages keep on a-building. The shareholders own the corporation; they lose.

There was an announcement a few weeks ago, for example, that Daniel
Hurwitz would become CEO, replacing Scott Wolstein. The announcement compared their brand new, roughly million dollar bonuses. I’m not sure the changeover means anything. It does seem a pretty good bet that DDR won’t be able to pay the 60 percent of its loans that come due in 2010 and 2011.

The execs are probably planning, very reasonably, simply to liquidate the corporation, taking their share before they go. This is a financial principle known as getting the cash while the getting’s good. (In olden times, it was making hay while the sun shines.) After all, these fellows have given the shareholders a whole lot of fun for their money. Thrills like that don’t come cheap.

If you can stay reasonably calm and detached about their big fibs and effrontery, it’s all quite funny. George MacDonald Frazer says in one of his books, “There is a point … where treachery becomes so open and unashamed that it becomes statesmanship.” The same goes here. Who, we ask ourselves, are these extraordinary clowns and where do you buy the script?

Even more hilarious, why hasn’t anybody around here noticed?

I did see that Timothy J. Bruce, who purchased the Masonite site for the company, actually left DDR about a month ago. This, please note, is not “rats deserting the sinking ship.” It is, how soon we can leave the party without being accused of bad manners?

Vote No On A SUPPORT Nelson Winery Ukiah SUNDAY 4:00 PM…We will be there…