Updated 2:50 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Chicago property developer overseeing Cleveland’s proposed medical mart could break ground on the project by October, according to a construction contract presented to Cuyahoga County officials.
Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) will give up plans to build the medical products showcase on publicly owned Mall C, the Plain Dealer reported. Rather, the construction agreement calls for MMPI to build the mart on St. Clair Avenue near Ontario Street, a reversion to earlier plans. That move could quiet critics who complained about MMPI’s intention to build on the publicly owned mall, which would’ve reduced downtown greenspace and obstructed views of Lake Erie.
An MMPI spokeswoman declined comment.
With Cleveland in a race with Nashville and New York to build the nation’s first-ever medical products showcase, the public pronouncement of a groundbreaking date, even if tentative, is significant. Yet it would still place Cleveland’s time line behind Nashville, which developers said late last year would begin construction this summer.
Leaders of both the Cleveland and Nashville projects have repeatedly stressed that it is critical to be the first medical mart to open because they fear the industry can only support one such project. Both cities say their projects will be open for business sometime in 2013.
Meanwhile, after months of not hearing anything out of the New York project’s developers, Crain’s New York Business reported on Thursday that the developers had scrapped plans to locate their medical mart in a yet-to-be-constructed, 60-story tower in Manhattan. Instead, the developers, perhaps feeling pressure from the progress Cleveland and Nashville have made, will lease existing space for the project and plan to open within the next year-and-a-half.
With completion dates so far out in the future, though, plenty could change over the coming months and years, making it difficult to pick a front-runner. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s to take all proclamations from the various projects’ developers with several grains of salt. Nonetheless, Cleveland’s success in the medical mart race appears anything but assured.