City, county to sign Cleveland medical mart contracts Thursday

A rendering of the Cleveland medical mart

City and county officials are expected to sign several key documents related to Cleveland’s medical mart project Thursday — another milestone and a sign of progress as the $465 million project marches on.

The documents include the county’s agreement to purchase the convention center from the city and other construction-related agreements, said Jeff Applebaum, a Thompson Hine attorney who’s representing the county.

“Up until that signing, the project could still not happen,” he said. “Once it’s signed on Thursday, it’s committed.” The signing is expected to happen at Thursday’s Cuyahoga County Commissioners’ board meeting.


The signings are the next step in what’s projected to culminate in 2013 with the opening of the world’s first medical mart — a collection of showrooms featuring products from companies in medical devices, information technology and hospital furnishings, among others — competition from Nashville’s medical mart project notwithstanding, of course.

Signing the agreements paves the way for what could be the next important step in the medical mart project’s evolution — groundbreaking. After missing an earlier target for an October groundbreaking, a “ceremonial” groundbreaking could be on the schedule soon.

“Actual groundbreaking and ceremonial groundbreaking are two different things,” Applebaum said. “There will be an announcement about a ceremonial groundbreaking after closing.”

Another upcoming significant development could be an announcement about tenants that have signed up to take space in the medical mart. MMPI, the Chicago-based property developer behind the project, can begin converting the letters of intent it’s signed with prospective tenants into binding contracts after the key construction agreements are signed, Applebaum said earlier this month.

As of now, there are no plans for a tenant announcement, MMPI spokesman Dave Johnson said. But that might be a lesser strategy.

“It would be in their best interest to start announcing signed contracts as soon as they get them, because they are very close to being fully subscribed or oversubscribed,” Applebaum said earlier this month. “So if there’s so much interest in this, announcing the deals that have been done with the most desirable tenants could create more demand from other possible tenants.”

MMPI has secured letters of intent from 41 tenants for showroom space at the medical mart. Those LOIs cover about 89,000 square feet of space, Johnson said. Plans call for about 100,000 square feet of showroom space to be available.

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