The identity of some tenants signing up for space in Cleveland’s future medical mart will be revealed within the next few weeks, according to the lawyer handling the project for the county.
Tenants’ letters of intent will start being converted to cast-in-stone contracts around November 18, when the county expects to close on the purchase of land needed for the mart, says lawyer Jeffrey Appelbaum. Those contracts will require tenants to go public.
“In advance of that there will probably be some strategic announcements made,” says Appelbaum.
Any news of binding agreements for medical mart space will be welcomed by Cuyahoga County taxpayers, who have been blindly footing the bill through the quarter-cent sales tax increase since 2007.
Why the secrecy thus far?
“To the extent that one believes we are in competition with Nashville, wouldn’t Nashville love to have that list and know the terms?” says Appelbaum, who sounds very much like one who believes we are in competition with Nashville.
Indeed, project developer MMPI lists health-care IT as a key type of tenant intending to come to Cleveland, while the developer of the much larger, 1.5-million-square-foot Nashville med mart has announced that a key health-care IT organization will be an anchor tenant. Other types of companies lined up for Cleveland so far include manufacturers of medical devices and equipment, furniture, electronics, and medical institutions. Nashville, meanwhile, has said only that it plans to be “more comprehensive.”
Cleveland has secured 37 letters of intent, up from 32 at the time of the last announcement in early September. Roughly 80,000 of a total 90,000 available square feet of med mart showroom space are now spoken for.
The news was presented at Cleveland Planning Commission meetings over the past two weeks, but was lost amid considerable pondering of the building’s proposed “pixelated” window design.
Also overlooked was news that the convention side of things is not faring so well. MMPI and Positively Cleveland have secured no additional takers since September. Eight trade shows and eight conferences are locked up for the new convention center, half of which have nothing to do with medicine. “I think there’s a tremendous amount of interest,” says MMPI spokesman Dave Johnson, adding that the number of convention center commitments should increase once construction begins.
Either way, the math’s not looking good so far. In June of last year, MMPI President Chris Kennedy told a City Club audience he aimed to entice 10 percent of the 570 medical trade shows held in the U.S. to agree to cycle through Cleveland once every 10 years. “We estimate 50 to 60 trade shows a year,” he said at the time.
But our highly dubious mathematical skills reveal that such a strategy yields only 5.7 events per year. With the specifics of the convention center letters of intent unknown, it may be that the 16 trade shows signed so far will amount to 1.6 events annually.
Appelbaum emphasizes that the county will hold MMPI to performance standards, including how many trade shows and conferences are secured.
No word yet on performance standards taxpayers can hold the county to. — Maude L. Campbell