Cleveland: Convention Center opening earlier, under budget

6:54 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- "Under budget and early." Those descriptions aren't often used together to describe big taxpayer funded projects.

But that combination has become the watchwords of the new Cleveland Convention Center and Global Health Innovation Center.

The convention center was already on track to open early on July 19. That was in time for the megaevent senior games, which will host some competitive events there.

Now comes word  the center will be able to used June 1.

There will be some dinners and other gatherings, so called "soft" events, shortly after that.

MMPI Vice President Dave Johnson said, "It's what you call a shakedown cruise. It's when you take the building out for a spin." 

Turner Construction will give the county the keys to the center on Monday. That will enable corporate tenants to begin designing and equipping their product showcase space.

The center is 80 percent leased with hundreds of companies interested in the remaining space. Some is being reserved for tenants who want to move in in 2014.

And 76 Convention Center events are already booked.

Turner Vice President John Dewine has been a project overseer.

He credits the early finish to a good team executing a good plan.

"A lot of lessons learned, a lot of good the end of the day, the project was under public scrutiny," he said.

Dewine has been part of building Quicken Loans Arena, The Halle Brothers building modernization, the Medical Mutual Building and Key Tower and other big projects.

How does this project stack up?

"We want to put a bow on the process and take it to other projects..that's good, " he said.

Johnson credits a partnership of the county, the city, MMPI and Turner communicating and overseeing goals together, a good team running a well-thought out phase-by-phase plan.

Targets for minority, city and county workers and contractors were all met or beaten.

6,000 hardhats got paychecks on the job at one time or another.

The project was paid for by a quarter-percent county sales tax.

The price came in more than $11 million under the county's projected $465 million budget. Much of that money was reinvested to upgrade furnishings.

The formal opening of the Innovation Center is Oct. 12 for the Cleveland Clinic's annual Innovation gathering.

On Thursday, the Global Center for Health Innovation's address went up -- 1 St. Clair Ave W.

Inside, hardhats are busy putting finishing touches on the atrium. Public tours are expected to begin after June 1.

Efforts are being made to sell the Convention Center's naming rights.


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