Downtown Cleveland Agreed to as Site for Medical Mart Project

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Cleveland, OH – Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI) reached an agreement to build its proposed Medical Mart conference and exhibition center in downtown Cleveland.

Negotiators for MMPI and Cuyahoga agreed March 13 to put together a Memorandum of Understanding on the project, which will host trade shows and permanent exhibits for the medical industry. “The table is now set for us to proceed,” said Mark Falanga, senior vice president for Chicago-based MMPI.

Cleveland was considered a prime location of the Medical Mart project due to the city’s extensive medical research community. MMPI had proposed locating the facility near the famed Cleveland Clinic, which would make it convenient to the research facility’s staff. The county, however, pressed for a downtown location and eventually prevailed. While the Cleveland Clinic location is convenient for a potential built-in attendee pool, downtown offers more hotel space plus restaurants and nightlife for out-of-town visitors.

Falanga told Trade Show Executive that the county had dug in its heels and MMPI conceded, agreeing there were some advantages to downtown.

During the negotiations, MMPI was concerned that downtown did not have much in the way of land parcels available that would be large enough to accommodate the Medical Mart. Falanga said March 13 that some suitable sites existed. “Some are easier for us to get than others,” he said.

The exact location of the Medical Mart will be determined at a later date, after which a detailed construction scheduled will be created. Falanga said the opening of the Medical Mart was “a few years away.”

Once open for business, the Medical Mart will consist basically of a conference center and an exhibit hall measuring between 250,000 and 300,000 gross square feet. The project will be partially funded by a 0.25% increase in the county sales tax to 7.75% that was approved last Fall.

The March 13 agreement did not address the idea of also granting MMPI a management contract for a proposed new convention center in downtown Cleveland. Media reports in February said MMPI wanted to be at the helm of a new center so that events at the center and Medical Mart could be better coordinated. “The existing convention center is really obsolete,” Falanga said. “Part of this program should be finding alternative uses that are better suited for it.”

There are no formal in the works for a new convention center and it is not clear how locating Medical Mart downtown would affect the existing facility.

Reach Mark Falanga at (312) 527-7685 or mfalanga@mmart.com