Cleveland: Groundbreaking for $465M Medical Mart

3:57 PM, Jan 14, 2011   |    comments
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And there's an unexpected problem. It may be too small.

A who's who of officeholders grabbed shovels and tossed dirt.

New Governor John Kasich, new County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Mayor Frank Jackson took turns talking about the project's importance.

"We will make Cleveland one of the great cities of the world again, " Kasich vowed.

Mayor Frank Jackson praised former county commissioners, who were not present, for their role in approving and enabling the project.

FitzGerald vowed to oversee the project in a way that would bring it in on time and under budget.

The first of its kind project will be a supermarket for medical and related furnishing and construction products and equipment.

Buyers will visit the city to shop .

 The Convention Center will host events and conferences with medical links, but also other larger gatherings.

The project seeks to capitalize on the strength of Cleveland's hospital systems.

The concept originated with Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove.

MMPI boss Chris Kennedy read names of 58 companies, large and small, who have agreed to rent space in the Mart to display their products and about two dozen groups who have agreed to hold gatherings there.

Kennedy said the project would create thousands of construction, hospitality and spinoff jobs.

But there's already an unexpected problem.  The 100,000 square feet of space is all spoken for.

"We're going to go back to our vendors and work with them to shoehorn more tenants in. It's a nice problem to have," Kennedy said.

An expansion of present plans would likely be paid by MMPI. It's responsible for overruns. 

The Medical Mart is scheduled to open in fall of  2013.

Cuyahoga County is financing it with a 1/4-cent sales tax increase that has been in place since 2007 and a 1-percent hike in the county bed tax.

The county is partnering with MMPI, a private company based on Chicago, for this project.

This is the first of several projects, including the Flats East Bank, and new casino that will remake the heart of downtown.

WKYC-TV

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