NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Looks like the other medical mart may be real after all.
Market Center Management Co. has narrowed its choices to three sites for a bigger version of the medical mart and convention center than Cleveland has been planning for the last three years, reports the Nashville Tennessean.
Nashville’s version, which could open next summer, would have between 250,000 and 300,000 square feet of showroom for health-care suppliers. It eventually could be 1.2 million-square-feet of showroom and convention space.
The site selection is a turn of the screw. In Cleveland, county and city leaders have been talking with executives of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. in Chicago about a site for that city’s proposed medical mart and convention center since mid-2007.
What’s interesting about the Nashville project is it’s moving forward — and its timetable is to open ahead of Cleveland’s. Executives from MMPI, which would build and run Cleveland’s medical mart complex, essentially said the Nashville project wasn’t possible and dismissed Market Center as little more than a copy cat that cut-and-pasted ideas from its Web site.
Now it’s clear the initial facility would rely largely on existing space in Nashville — and there are plenty of options. About 19 percent of the city’s downtown office space is vacant, and property owners seem eager to deal with Market Center, according to the Tennessean. A couple of the final sites have more than 230,000 square feet available.
Cleveland wants to build a 585,000-square-feet center with convention, showroom, exhibitor and meeting space, though a portion could be up and running by next summer if developers use existing convention space.
Both the developers in Cleveland and Nashville think its critical to be the first to open and start booking companies and shows. Both also agree that the nation can support only one medical mart concept.