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Cuyahoga County reaches deal on Medical Mart project

CLEVELAND, March 13, 2008 (AP): Months of negotiations have led to a deal on building a ``Medical Mart'' exhibit hall in Cleveland to host medical trade shows and conferences as part of a convention center.

Cuyahoga County's negotiator, lawyer Fred Nance, told commissioners on Thursday that an agreement had been reached with a Chicago-based developer, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. He said the developer will invest $20 million. The county's share hasn't been specified.

The county had set a deadline for Thursday to reach a deal. Issues in dispute included how much Merchandise Mart would contribute and where the development should happen.

Cuyahoga County commissioners had insisted the Medical Mart be in downtown Cleveland, tied to a convention center.

But Merchandise Mart wanted it closer the campuses of Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, about five miles east of downtown.

Merchandise Mart relented and agreed to a downtown location, said Mark Falanga, senior vice president of Merchandise Mart Properties.

Last summer, commissioners increased the countywide sales tax by one quarter of one percent to help pay for the project, without a deal completed.

Falanga said a final, detailed and signed agreement hasn't occurred, although an agreement was reached. He confirmed the $20 million commitment.

``The purpose of this facility would be primarily to attract medical trade shows into Cleveland as well as manufacturers who could take permanent exhibition space or show rooms,'' Falanga said.

On the Net: http://www.cuyahogacounty.us





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