Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nashville about to be a city of two convention centers? Medical Mart rumored headed to Ohio

A Cleveland reporter notes that since his town threw its hat in the ring to be the home of the country's "first permanent medical showroom complex", it has had two worthy competitors in Nashville and New York City, neither whom look worthy any longer:

Now, almost four years later, it looks like the last of our competition could be circling the drain.

According to sources on the ground, med mart boosters down south are whispering that the Nashville project, already pushed back once over funding delays, is about to limp off to boondoggle heaven ....

The Nashville rumors are news to Jeffrey Appelbaum, an attorney hired by Cuyahoga County to oversee the project here.

“It goes to show you the value of the signed leases,” he says of Nashville. “We were constantly beat-up here because they were supposedly farther ahead because they had signed leases. Obviously, the signed lease is pretty meaningless without the go-ahead on the overall project.”

If Nashville has pulled up lame, that city’s tenants could become fair game for Cleveland, which thus far has taken a decidedly modest approach to lining up actual paying tenants for the $465 million play house you’re paying for. Technically, they haven’t mentioned any.

“I don’t know that anyone ever felt constrained from looking at some of the [Nashville] tenants anyway,” adds Appelbaum. He has no idea whether Cleveland’s developer, MMPI, has been in contact with the six companies locked into Nashville contracts....

In the process of selling Music City Center construction to a skeptical city, Mayor Karl Dean at times tied it to the Medical Mart as if the two were integral and coordinated rather than distinct and requiring separate work. The Med Mart was also sold as a major Downtown job engine and an effective repurposing of the Nashville Convention Center. But if Cleveland got it without putting a lot of the leasing work that Nashville did, does it indicate that our focus was off? Did we fail to get our budget together on a project that probably would have more immediate impact on local communities than the Music City Center will? Did MCC sap attention and resources from the Med Mart bid?

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