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Cleveland medical mart project to break ground in January

The long-awaited groundbreaking for Cleveland’s $465 million medical mart project will be… drum roll, please… Jan. 14, 2011. The ceremonial turning of the ground “on the historic Cleveland Malls” will happen at 11 a.m. that Friday, according to MMPI, the Chicago-based property developer that’s leading the project. The event, which also will feature remarks from civic, business and government leaders, is free and open to the public.

The long-awaited groundbreaking for Cleveland’s $465 million medical mart project will be… drum roll, please… Jan. 14, 2011.

The ceremonial turning of the ground “on the historic Cleveland Malls” will happen at 11 a.m. that Friday, according to MMPI, the Chicago-based property developer that’s leading the project. The event, which also will feature remarks from civic, business and government leaders, is free and open to the public.

Construction on the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center will begin before that date, however — on Jan. 3.

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MMPI has yet to sign tenants for the 100,000-square-foot medical mart, a planned collection of medical product showrooms that will be populated by sellers of medical devices, information technology, furnishings and other equipment. The mart will be connected to a newly renovated convention center in downtown Cleveland.

The mart project has been controversial for years — for its proposed cost, proposed location, even what company was proposed to build it. Two years ago, Cleveland was competing with Nashville, Tennessee, and New York City to launch its medical mart first. Now, it looks like Cleveland will beat Nashville, and NYC may have dropped the idea.

And many, most recently former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, now a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, have been skeptical whether the pricey public investment is worth the untested concept’s risk. The medical mart could end up costing Cuyahoga County taxpayers up to $840 million.

Hand-wringing aside, the mart and adjoining convention center are expected to open in September 2013, MMPI said.

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