Cleveland to Locate Medical Mart on Existing Convention Center Site

Cuyahoga County commissioners have finally selected a site for Cleveland's new medical mart and convention center project, reports Positively Cleveland, Cleveland's convention and visitors bureau.

Having spent several years studying potential sites, and nearly a year and a half trying to choose one, the county has decided to build the facility, which will include at least 500,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, on the site of the existing, 85-year-old Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland. The selection—which is within a 10-minute walk of 3,100 existing hotel rooms—is contrary to recommendations made in August 2007 by a citizen site selection committee that suggested building the facility at Tower City, a large mixed-use development that's home to Cleveland's three rail lines, two office towers, an amphitheater and Cleveland's Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

"Although the committee recommended Tower City over the mall site, the group felt both sites under serious consideration were viable options," said Positively Cleveland President Dennis Roche, who was part of the county's site selection committee. "The convention and visitors bureau has been advocating for a new center for nearly two decades. First and foremost, I can tell you that we are thrilled that the process is moving forward."

Although final plans for the proposed medical mart and convention center have not yet been released, Cuyahoga County's development partner, Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI), has said it has a plan for the current site that would cost $425 million, less than the previously estimated $490 million.

"This is an exciting time for the hospitality community—Cuyahoga County's fourth largest private sector employer," Roche said. "We've already been partnering with MMPI to create a sales plan. Once we have a timeline and specs for the new facility, we can begin selling the space."