Cleveland: Medical Mart 'topped out'

1:05 PM, Jun 22, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Friday was a huge milestone for a huge project that carries both huge hopes and a huge price tag and is still surrounded by huge questions.

The Cleveland Medical Mart/Convention Center held a "Topping Out Ceremony."

A symbolic steel beam carried an evergreen tree, representing growth and good luck, along with an American flag to the top of the building.

Construction workers and a variety of political and civic players autographed the beam.

It's a longstanding ironworker tradition that goes back to the early 1900's.

The ceremony acknowledges that highest beam is in place and that the structure reached that point with no loss  of life.

Construction of the $465 million project has continued uninterrupted as its leadership and business plans have changed.

It's set to open in Fall of 2013.

A dozen conventions are booked for the first year. Cuyahoga County taxpayers are footing the bill.

The project was originally envisioned as a one-stop-shopping complex for hospitals interested in seeing and buying hospital equipment and furnishings.

Chicago-based MMPI has run other centers for specific industries and products.

The project's second general manager made public comments that the facility would also be an educational complex to attract visitors who are medical professionals.

MMPI recently hired Clevelander Jim Bennett as the project's third boss.

The project's latest rendition no longer stresses separate showrooms leased by individual business and exhibitors. Now the concept involves companies cooperating to display themed technology.

And the Convention Center could soon take top billing in the project.

A search for an official name is underway.

The project is one of a trifecta of developments, including the casino and the Flats East bank, envisioned as bringing more business and activity downtown.


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