Glenmoor Estates is generally considered to be one of the most exclusive communities in Northeast Ohio.
But for Ben Suarez, Glenmoor wasn’t exclusive enough.
Within that gated community, he built his own gated community, with its own fencing, guard house and interconnected tunnels.
Glenmoor consists of 418 pristine Jackson Township acres filled with upscale homes surrounding a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and an enormous Gothic clubhouse/inn. Guards keep a 24-hour watch at the main entrance off of Brunnerdale Avenue Northwest.
Suarez, the controversial businessman, along with his immediate family and a former son-in-law, own 34 of those acres.
His complex contains four large houses, a summer cottage and a 16-acre recreation area that includes full-size soccer and baseball fields.
The house he shares with his wife, Nancy, is a staggering 18,692 square feet, with seven full bathrooms, three half-baths and three fireplaces. The Stark County Auditor’s office places the value at $2.7 million.
Suarez would be the first to say he doesn’t do anything halfway. But federal prosecutors say he went way too far in supporting some of his favorite political candidates. As you may have read, he has been charged with conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
The direct-mail marketing maven insists he is innocent and has hired a phalanx of nationally known attorneys to try to prove it. He denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Canton Repository, saying this was punishment because he is a Republican supporter. Roger M. Synenberg, Suarez’ lead attorney, told the Beacon Journal he is looking forward to “aggressively defending this case in court.”
We don’t know how that will play out, but we do know this: Products such as “Jewel of the Sea” brooches, commemorative coins, Joe Namath grills, Perfect Storm sweepers, “No-Hunger Bread” and EdenPURE air purifiers and heaters have been very, very good to Benjamin D. Suarez.
Suarez’s house, held in his wife’s name, was the first in the compound. It was completed in 1994, only two years after Cleveland developer Bart Wolstein opened the golf course and the revamped clubhouse on the site of the former Brunnerdale Seminary, a high school for boys preparing to be priests.
The second house, valued at $1,542,000, was built in 1997 by Suarez’s former son-in-law, Rodney Napier, who still lives in the 10,192-square-foot structure.
The Napier house is a two-story brick contemporary that boasts six full and two half-baths on 8½ acres.
Near those mansions is a six-bedroom house for Suarez’s daughter Sharon, Napier’s ex-wife. Appraised at $625,000, it is 3,864 square feet and has five full and two half-baths. That one was built in 2004.
Three years later, daughter Michele and her husband, Timothy Ditty, moved into a 7,545-square-foot house appraised at $776,700.
With this type of housing, the big bucks don’t stop when construction does. Real-estate tax on the main house alone is $55,442 per year. That is 20 percent higher than Ohio’s median household income.
Collectively, the Suarez-related Glenmoor properties have been appraised by the Stark County auditor at $7.2 million. Total annual property taxes: $146,188.
Auditor Alan Harold jokes that the Suarez compound is not exactly typical of the properties in his jurisdiction, but says Suarez has “always accepted the value that we have placed on it, and they pay their taxes on time. From our office’s standpoint, they are treated like every other resident of our county.”
Suarez’s house includes a 30- by 31-foot swimming pool that was added in 2006. Asked why an enormous in-ground pool that cost $370,000 to build is valued at only $25,500, Harold said pools are nearly a non-factor in the marketplace because many potential buyers simply don’t want to deal with them. He said the pool’s value was calculated using the auditor’s standard pricing tables.
There’s no shortage of water at the Suarez house. In addition to the pool, a 355-foot-long lake runs parallel to the back yard and a 240-foot-long lake runs parallel to a side yard.
And then there’s the recreation area, which sits immediately north and west of the four houses. Its five structures include a small barn, garages and the summer cottage, which is 1,280 square feet. That parcel is worth $788,300, the auditor says.
Glenmoor’s golf course and clubhouse account for 200 of the subdivision’s 418 acres. That means the Suarez clan holds 16 percent of Glenmoor’s available property.
And that’s not counting three Glenmoor condominiums owned by Suarez and/or his wife.
Those condos, outside the compound but all within half a mile, range in value from $177,500 to $259,800, and in size from 1,800 to 2,156 square feet.
Add all the houses and condos together and the Suarez group has exactly 40 bathrooms — 30 of them with showers and/or tubs.
A year after his house was finished, Suarez made a rare appearance in the newspapers for something not directly related to business or politics. The society pages made note of a 300-guest private reception he and his wife hosted at the Glenmoor clubhouse for actor Burt Reynolds, who earlier had made a promotional appearance for Suarez.
Among the guests were then-Canton Mayor Dick Watkins and judges John Boggins, John Hoffman and Scott Gwin.
Although that bash remains the biggest Suarez has hosted at Glenmoor’s clubhouse, he makes his presence known to the rest of the residents every summer.
On the Fourth of July, Glenmoor stages a lengthy fireworks display, financed by an annual assessment of $30 per household.
The residents also have grown accustomed to another July 4 tradition, this one unsubsidized: Shortly before the Glenmoor show begins, the Suarez compound shoots off its own fireworks.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.