Thursday, January 07, 2010

Yet more Medical Mart News - This Time Cleveland vs. New York

As Cleveland settles medical mart questions, rival New York project raises new ones | Cuyahoga County Insider -

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As Cleveland settles medical mart questions, rival New York project raises new ones
By Henry J. Gomez, The Plain Dealer
January 07, 2010, 7:21PM

Hagan-with-Kennedy.jpgView full size

Marvin Fong, The Plain Dealer

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan, shown above with MMPI President Chris Kennedy at a City Club forum in June, believes Cleveland remains the frontrunner in the medical mart sweepstakes despite a revised plan in New York.

With Plain Dealer reporter Laura Johnston
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Though plans for a Cleveland medical martcrystallized Thursday, backers of a similar concept in New York City believe revisions to their proposal should allow them to open well ahead of the competing project here.
Instead of anchoring a new 60-story tower in Manhattan as first envisioned, the World Product Centre will start out small and expand in phases to make a speedier debut, a company official said.
The first phase will use up to 350,000 square feet of existing space somewhere in New York, said John Strong, president of World Product Centre Marketing. He believes the showplace for medical equipment can open in about 18 months -- more than two years before Cleveland's.
"Many of the people that we've talked to are highly interested but want something more quickly," Strong said in a phone interview. "We want to accommodate that."
Cleveland and New York are two of the three cities locked in a derby to boast the nation's first medical mart. A complex three times as large as Cleveland's is planned in Nashville, Tenn.
In the past, executives with MMPI, the private developer behind the Cleveland project, have said that being the first to introduce the untested medical mart concept is considered critical to their project's success. Officials with the Chicago company did not respond to a request for comment Thursday regarding the latest version of the World Product Centre plans.
Local backers believe that Northeast Ohio remains the frontrunner. They cite public financing in place since 2007 -- courtesy of an increase to the Cuyahoga County sales tax -- and other factors, such as a renowned, built-in medical industry that can drive business.
"The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth in one city -- we are the health care capital of the world," said Councilman Joe Cimperman, whose ward includes downtown. "New York might have great Broadway shows, but they don't have the public funding, and they don't have the ability to bring in the vendors that these guys do."
The Cleveland mart will be built at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street, in tandem with a new convention center. On Thursday, MMPI and county commissioners agreed to a new pact that makes it likely ground will break on the complex by October.
Construction is expected to take 36 months, so Cleveland's mart would be on pace to open sometime in 2013. Officials in Tennessee have targeted that year, as well.
A spokeswoman with Market Center Management Co., which is pursuing the downtown Nashville medical mart, did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
Cuyahoga Commissioner Tim Hagan downplayed the idea of a three-city race.
"The bottom line is that we're not competing with anybody," Hagan said. "We've got a unique setting here. What we have is 70,000 or so people working in the health care industry in the community ... the dominance of the Cleveland Clinic nationally and internationally.
"It's comparing apples and oranges here."
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