Thursday, January 07, 2010

Big news on Cleveland's Medical Mart

It appears talks have resumed with property owners around the previous preferred location for the Medical Mart. This means the Mall C location that had come up last year as the new choice is likely off the table. Further more, the PeeDee is reported:
"Developer MMPI could break ground by October on a much-anticipated medical mart for downtown Cleveland, according to a construction agreement introduced to Cuyahoga County commissioners this morning."
As a person who was involved with the original Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority (now defunct), all I can say is "FINALLY."

Cleveland: Medical Mart getting back on track
 Tom Beres     Updated: 1/7/2010 12:23:49 PM  Posted: 1/6/2010 5:42:10 PM
CLEVELAND -- The long-delayed Medical Mart project seems to be moving in a more postive direction.
Late last year, it seemed the project was relocating to a site on Mall C, overlooking the lakefront.
That was because property owners at the original site at the corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue were making what the county considered exorbitant demands for their property.
But those talks have restarted and seem to be close to resolution, according to Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan.
"In all probability, it's going back to the original site. We were negotiating deals with people who were trying to get what they could," he said.
That will avoid an emotional debate about using the valuable and cherished Mall property for this project.
On Thursday, the county commissioners will also hear details of a construction agreement that addresses critics' issues and concerns about the county's preliminary agreement with project developer MMPI.
Lawyer Jeff Appelbaum helped broker terms and conditions surrounding the Gateway projects. He's been involved with dozens of significant projects nationwide.
He will tell commissioners he's arranged a deal that is easier for the public to understand, provides more chances for local companies to be part of the bidding process, and addresses diversity concerns.
"It's going to be more transparent, an iron-clad agreement that will give opportunites for local companies to be engaged," Hagan claimed.
Hagan understands public impatience and skepticism with a project that many perceive as slow-moving.
"Everybody is a critic. But they don't have our responsibility. This methodical approach is the only way to do big projects like this," he said.
Appelbaum is in talks with the City of Cleveland to address concerns about Public Hall.
MMPI revealed problems with electrical, plumbing and other systems in the building.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson must decide how much of the revenue the city gets in the final deal to spend on making improvements to keep the building usable  and how much to demand from the county and MMPI.
"I envision a deal. I believe anything beyond 2010 will create a big problem with us being competitive, " Jackson said, in apparent reference to similar projects being pursued in other cities.
Hagan's predicts, "Work will begin this year for sure. It's going to get done. MMPI, the county and the city are going to make this happen."
Hagan said he would not be opposed to extending the 20-year sales tax for the project to help with possible cost issue.
He says the switch to a new form of county government next year will not delay progress this year.
City Councilman Joe Cimperman is organizing a series of four public meetings in February to discuss different aspects of the Medical Mart/Convention Center project.

© 2009 WKYC-TV

MMPI could break ground on a Cleveland medical mart by October
By Laura Johnston, The Plain Dealer
January 07, 2010, 11:29AM


Plain Dealer

The proposed medical mart will likely be built on the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street, rather than on the north edge of the Mall.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Developer MMPI could break ground by October on a much-anticipated medical mart for downtown Cleveland, according to a construction agreement introduced to Cuyahoga County commissioners this morning.
The county's contract attorney also said MMPI will abandon controversial plans to build the mart -- part of a taxpayer-financed $425 million convention center complex -- on the north end of the downtown Mall, between City Hall and the Lakeside Avenue courthouse.
Instead, as reported last month by the Plain Dealer, the Chicago firm will build the showplace for medical technology on the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street.
The 67-page agreement also spells out how what taxpayers will get for their money. A $333,333 monthly fee paid by the county to MMPI will cover all salaries and benefits for company officials and affiliates involved with the project.
MMPI also will receive no more than $3.2 million as reimbursement for rent, travel and office expenses and must pick up the tab for all cost overruns. And the company is forbidden from paying kickbacks to contractors vying for a piece of the project.
Other highlights of the contract include:
  • Once MMPI and the county agree on a guaranteed maximum price for the project, MMPI cannot walk away. That agreement should come about nine months after a deal to buy the St. Clair property. Construction will start soon after.

  • The county must approve MMPI's choice of an architect.

  • MMPI must seek competitive proposals from companies hoping to design and build the project.

  • The builder must seek at least three competitive bids for subcontracts of more than $100,000, including excavation, concrete and electrical work.

  • MMPI must parcel out a quarter of the work to small businesses certified by the county and hire Cuyahoga County residents to make up 40 percent of the construction workforce.

  • The county plans to sign an option to buy an office building on St. Clair from L& R Investment Co., said the attorney, Jeff Appelbaum. And eminent domain could be used to transform other property into a public park.

Appelbaum did not say which property, but the Sportsman's Restaurant is sandwiched between L&R's office building at 113 St. Clair and its parking garage.
The county also is renegotiating a deal to buy the city's existing convention center.
MMPI's original proposal called for renovating the underground convention center, creating high-tech meeting rooms in the adjoining Public Auditorium and building the mart on St. Clair.
But in November, the company abandoned those plans after estimates to repair the 88-year-old auditorium came in tens of millions of dollars over budget. MMPI cut out Public Auditorium and instead imagined the mart as a modern glass edifice, rising at the north end of Mall C and connecting to the convention center below.
MMPI's public dismissal of Public Auditorium infuriated Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council, which last spring signed off on a $20 million deal to sell the existing convention center. And the change worried architects and preservationists, who urged against destroying the mall.
The furor drove county officials to reopen talks with St. Clair property owners.
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