Cleveland medical mart has finalized lease terms with 20 tenants

The good news for backers of the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center is that the top local official with the project says it has secured lease agreements with 20 tenants.

“We are fully completed or close to complete with 20 leases that account for about 46,000 square feet in the medical mart, which represents about 40 percent of the total space in the building,” said Jim Bennett, a newly hired senior vice president with MMPI, the Chicago-based developer behind the project.

So does that mean all 20 leases are signed? No, but pretty much all the important terms of each contract are set, according to Bennett. That’s rent, duration, renewal terms and details around building out each space. In some cases, lawyers are parsing final details, but “from the business side, the deal is done,” Bennett said.


The bad news? MMPI still won’t share any names.

“We’ll continue to take the position that lease-holders’ names are confidential until they’re comfortable” going public, Bennett said.

The idea is that many of these companies are still figuring out exactly how they’ll use their spaces in the medical mart, how they’ll staff them and what their spaces will look like, for example, and they’d prefer not to answer questions about the medical mart until they do, according to Bennett.

It’s an entirely reasonable, but rather unsatisfying answer.

Contrast the Cleveland approach with that of rival Nashville, which has named about a dozen companies that it has said have signed leases. (It should be noted that two nonhealth-industry tenants, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College, have publicly stated that they’ve signed leases with the Cleveland project.)

MMPI’s contract with Cuyahoga County requires the Chicago company to maintain an occupancy rate of 82.9 percent for the mart’s first two years. Bennett said that won’t be a problem.

“It’s not a question of being able to fill the building,” he said. Rather, the goal is to provide a compelling mix of tenants that draw in healthcare industry visitors.

With a planned opening date of Aug. 31, 2013 and a few months needed for building out spaces before that, Bennett noted that MMPI has a little short of a year to continue selling, plus plenty of potential deals in the pipeline.

While announcing 20 unidentified tenants will do little to silence skeptics, it seems pretty safe to say that the medical mart will be at or near capacity when it opens. The big question has always been exactly who’ll be there when it does, and we aren’t any closer to knowing that.

[Photo from flickr user johnsnape]

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