Au Bon Pain, Starbucks, Conference Rooms and Vacant Space — The Sorry State of the Global Center for Health and Innovation


[image-1]The Global Center for Health and Innovation, the $465-million, four-year-old, publicly financed complex is a) 20-percent vacant, b) unable to draw new tenants and c) without a leader, as it has been since June of 2016, thirteen months ago, when Fred DeGrandis departed the managing director position.

If you think that the frustratingly dumb misuse of Cuyahoga County taxpayer money is a failure, you'd be right. The Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corporation, the nonprofit that technically manages the Global Center and the Convention Center, might argue differently, but they'd be wrong.

You'd have to look no further than today's updates on the stagnant past and dismal future of the operation provided by CCCFDC executive director George Hillow to today. Among the highlights and developments he points to, according to the story, are the arrival of a Starbucks and the expansion of Au Bon Pain (which was highlighted as a highpoint six months ago, which is another way of saying nothing good has happened since then):

About 20 percent of the Cuyahoga County-owned, four-story glass building — formerly called the medical mart — remains empty.

Officials are excited about an Au Bon Pain expansion and a new Starbucks and UPS store, instead.

The new plan is to lure customers of those businesses into the soaring atrium for coffee or lunch. Vacant space on the second floor will be transformed into overflow conference rooms for the attached convention center or adjoining Hilton Hotel.

Officials also plan to alter a large space for healthcare startups into leased spaces for entrepreneurs.
Colliers was contracted as a consultant to help recruit new tenants (and they only get paid when they secure contracts), but in the year since they were enlisted the 20-percent vacancy hasn't changed. Hillow, who makes $120,000 a year, a salary picked up by the county, told that some of the vacant space on the second floor will be turned into conference rooms.

As for the other 80 percent, many of the leases are up in 2018 (and, as we reported last year, many of those leases were discounted and signed at below-market rates, including two freebies). So if it looks bad now, just imagine a year or two from now when it's almost completely empty and convention officials pivot to a full-blown mall food court.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.