Devices & Diagnostics

Cleveland medical mart tenants could be revealed this month

The identities of at least some future tenants for the planned Cleveland medical mart finally could come to light in November.

The identities of at least some future tenants for the planned Cleveland medical mart could finally come to light in November.

Cuyahoga County has scheduled Nov. 18 as the date it expects to close its purchase of land needed for the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center, said Jeff Applebaum, a Thompson Hine attorney who’s representing the county on the $465 million project.

At that point, the project’s Chicago-based developer MMPI can begin converting the letters of intent it’s signed with prospective tenants into binding contracts, Applebaum said.

“As we close the project, you’ll see some strategic announcements of some tenants,” said Applebaum, who noted that any announcements would be made at MMPI’s discretion. “There are some tenants that are more significant in terms of local interest than others, so those partnerships are important to note.”

MMPI has secured letters of intent (LOIs) from 39 tenants for showroom space at the medical mart. Those LOIs cover about 85,000 square feet of showroom. Plans call for about 100,000 square feet to be available. The prospective tenants represent sectors of the health industry that include medical devices, information technology, furnishing, manufacturing and education.

An MMPI spokesman said the company hasn’t yet decided when it’ll announce the identities of tenants.

“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. “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.”

Any announcement of tenants likely would provide a big public relations boost for the project. Plenty of local skepticism about the project remains — if Cleveland.com message boards are to be taken seriously, that is — in part because the concept of a “mart” showcasing medical projects is untested. Further, while it can’t be faulted because it had no choice, MMPI likely suffers from its association with a county government that’s widely viewed as corrupt and ineffectual.

MMPI leaders likely will pop champagne corks behind closed doors in January when a new regime is set to take over Cuyahoga County’s government, and the stain that Jimmy Dimora and friends have left on the project begins to dissipate.

However, it’s important to note that while splashy tenant announcements can bring plenty of attention, they’re far from a guarantee of a successful project. For an example, look no further than New York. Backers of a New York medical mart made waves in July 2009 when they publicly identified 11 tenants, including Ohio’s Cardinal Health, but the project seems to have since died.