The Global Center for Vacancies and Taxpayer-Funded Boondoggles (a facility more commonly referred to as the Global Center for Au Bon Pain) is in transition again. Or still, it would be more accurate to say.
Cuyahoga County, which built the fucking thing as part of the $465 million convention center project, announced today that BioEnterprise, the non-profit business incubator and accelerator headquartered in University Circle which took over strategy, marketing, programming and tenant engagement activities at the county-funded building two years ago, will cease all that.
BioEnterprise confirmed the news but, in comments to Cleveland.com
, declined to go into specifics on why the arrangement ended. While the company did point to an uptick in activity at the space since 2017 — there were simply more people working there, including some of its own employees — it will nonetheless follow HIMSS and others in vacating the vacancy-plagued building. (BioEnterprise occupied 10,000 square feet; HIMSS, which announced it was pulling out this summer, was the center's largest tenant with more than 20,000 square feet of space.)
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, who surely wishes he didn't have to deal with the albatross left behind by former county leaders, lied in a statement and called the Global Center a “unique community asset."
Built on the pipedream of creating a world-class showcase mall for medical equipment and technologies, the building is an annual money pit with no functional identity that now mostly houses proms, assorted meetings, and the hungry masses who desire Au Bon Pain.
“As we increase occupancy, we will move in the direction of making money,” BioEnterprise CEO Aram Nerpouni told the Plain Dealer last year. “Ultimately, if you wanted to build a financially self-sustaining office building, it would look different than the Global Center looks.”
Cuyahoga county taxpayers won't full pay off the center's massive construction costs until 2027.
“Desperate cities do desperate things,” Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, told the Chicago Tribune last year regarding Cuyahoga County's decision to build the MedMart. “It didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t seem to make sense now.”
The shift comes as some civic and city leaders eye City Block
, originally conceived as a tech hub built around blockchain startups but at this juncture basically a fancy mall with some office space, as another economic driver for the city.
What in the ever-loving Chipotle Turkey and Avocado do they plan to pivot to next?
The Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corporation, which controls operations at the Global Center, today noted, "Cleveland lags far behind competitors in the availability of meeting room and adaptable space in relation to exhibit hall space, and that additional space would help attract more city-wide conventions to Cleveland," according to Cleveland.com.
Tenants may come. Tenants may go. But empty space... empty space can't leave you. Consider it a pivot to vacancy. Or least into it, at least.
In the words of the great Michael Scott:
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