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CLEVELAND-The creation of the Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center has been in the works for years. In 2006 the idea was first hatched and plans were set in motion. Initially, locally-based Forest City Enterprises offered a $536 million plan to build the Medical Mart on its Tower City Center site. But yesterday Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., a Vornado Realty Trust company, publicly shared its $425 million plan that would involve creating the mart at the corner of Mall Drive and St. Clair., the site of the city’s convention center.

The MMPI proposal won the approval of Cuyahoga County’s commissioners at the end of January, although the general plans were only made public yesterday. Today, Forest City retaliated with plans to present a revised proposal to build the Medical Mart on the Tower City site and at a lower cost than MMPI’s $425 million.

“Now that we have seen these presentations, which reflect new assumptions and key changes in scope for both the convention center and medical mart, we believe it is appropriate to apply those same changes to the Tower City site and revise our design,” says David LaRue, president and COO of Forest City’s Commercial Group, in a release today.

“We believe a new design will enable the community to have the benefits of these facilities, together with the superior location, connectivity and amenities of the Tower City location. We further believe this can be done at a cost near to, or below the $425 million figure cited by MMPI for the mall location, including land acquisition costs.”

In two weeks time the company will publicly present its revised design plan. “We will invite the County, MMPI and other stakeholders to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the merits of each site, and to engage in further dialog on this critical decision for the future of our community,” LaRue says.

Before presenting its plan before city officials, MMPI looked into 18 different sites in the city to study the feasibility and cost of building class A exhibit space including 100,000 square feet of permanent showrooms, a 300,000-square-foot tradeshow facility and a 100,000-square-foot conference center. The firm then focused in on three spaces, including Forest City’s Tower City site, but in the end MMPI opted for the Mall Drive and St. Clair site.

MMPI envisions a tradeshow facility adjacent to a large public park, similar to Chicago’s Millennium Park, according to documents about the company’s plan. “We’re committed to this project and look forward to the next steps in bringing the Medical Mart and Tradeshow Facility to fruition,” says Mark Falanga, SVP at MMPI. “We have already begun conversations with medical manufacturers, conferences and tradeshows to introduce our facility to them and the response has been positive.”

MMPI manages a number of marts across the country including The Merchandise Mart and 350 West Mart Center in Chicago; the Architects & Designers Building and 7 W New York in New York; the Boston Design Center in Boston; the L.A. Mart in Los Angeles; and the Washington Design Center and Federal Center Southwest in Washington D.C.

Forest City owns, develops and manages properties across the US including the $108 million Presidio Project in San Francisco and the Central Station Development in Chicago.

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