A Medical Furniture Mart at $1 Billion?

More discouraging words about the Medical Mart planned here by MMPI and its use of $1 billion tax dollars – a furniture mart in plan.

Here’s what MedCity News, a publication that deals with “health care as an economic engine of American cities,” says of MMPI’s plans for Cleveland:

“When you try to picture what Cleveland’s Medical Mart will look like – at least at first – think of a Medical Furniture Mart. (Its emphasis on furniture.)

“It’s likely many initial tenants in the permanent showrooms of the proposed medical showplace will feature beds, chairs and floor tiles meant for hospitals, private practices and home health care settings.”

Sounds like a barn-burner hot economic plus for downtown Cleveland – County Commissioner style. Can’t wait for the jobs to roll into the city.

“The bulk of the companies touted as possible initial tenants are similar to Brandrud, a Herman Miller company that makes chairs and cabinets for hospitals or Arc/Com, which makes fabrics and other textiles for the health care industry.”

Hospital curtains, anyone?

They continue: “Supporters of the medical mart concept say furniture is the foundation that can attract and serve many sectors of the health-care market and draw conventioneers. Furniture makers would not only sell their products at the mart, they would lend their products to create mock waiting rooms operating rooms, nurses’ stations or other spaces where medical companies could demonstrate their products during certain conventions.”

Says the article, “But even as the project inches toward reality, it’s hard to envision just what the medical mart would offer in its permanent showrooms. Cutting–edge heart valves or prosthetics? Would electronic medical record firms take up residence?

“Part of the confusion is MMPI’s doing. In public presentations in February in Cleveland, MMPI displayed a list of companies it would consider for its permanent showroom. But then, applying a secretive approach that has earned it the ire of the public, MMPI refused to make the slide show publicly available afterward.”

Forthcoming with the public hasn’t been a trademark of either MMPI or the three stooges – Tim Hagan, Jimmy Dimora and Peter Lawson Jones.

They even confuse Fred Nance.

“It won’t be all furniture,” it quotes Mark Falanga, senior vice president of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI) of Chicago. MMPI would operate the Cleveland mart.

“But generally,” the article continues, “most of the potential tenants make furniture.”

It goes on: “No one has committed to joining the Medical Mart. MMPI has said it will subsidized up to the first 25 companies that commit to space, but it doesn’t expect any commitments until the project is finalized.”

Some companies, the article quotes, say they want “more than a subsidy to join.” More than a subsidy? What? Massages?

Falanga says, “It’s a bit of a crab walk. A showroom will attract trade shows, and trade shows will attract (companies into the showroom). Somewhere, we have to jump in and start all this. I’d say that’s the immediate challenge in front of us all.”

Great! A billion dollar gamble on “a bit of a crab walk!

What I also want to know is how much of County money is going to be spent to give MMPI a free telephone system, a total computer system and its office furniture at County cost? What frills will be free in the MMPI executive offices here? Will they have an apartment as the Cavs do? Will MMPI be able to use naming rights and keep the revenue? How big and how many restaurants will be County subsidized in the mart? Will Med Mart parties include not only the Mayor, County Commissioners, other County city officials but top editors of the Plain Dealer as free guests?

For the entire MedCity News article go here.

Comments

Um, I hate to tell you this, but DUH!

I normally agree with you, but this "furniture store" will also include a band new (an sorely needed) Cleveland Convention Center.

How much would that cost anyway, even if we subtract the display of dental chairs?

Less yellow in the headlines please. I prefer reading The Leader when the facts speak for themselves.

ExPatClevGuy.

I agree with you that the $1 billion figure applies to BOTH the med mart and convention center.

However, I believe the med mart is being used to make the spending of the $1 billion palitable (somewhat) to the public.

As far as yellow journalism is concerned, I'll offer you a recent piece by Jack Shafer of Slate:

http://www.slate.com/id/2214969/pagenum/all/

Thanks for reading and writing,

Roldo

Thanks Roldo,

OK, so you've got a point about sassy headlines, but for me it's actually the convention center which is making the Med Mart (somewhat) palatable.

I feel the financing progam stinks to high heaven, but I am throwing my effort behind support for construction on the Mall.

The PD deleted my comment drawing a parallel betwen Tower City and "The beautiful new Randall Park Mall" of he 1970s. The public really should not have to enter or cross the property of a private third-party in order to enter our new convention center. God knows what the future holds for Forest City, so I don't want my dollard bundled into any fiasco of theirs that may develop in the future.

Cheers.

Really not very surprising. In Chris Kennedy's presentations back in summer, 2007, he cited companies like Herman Miller and Armstrong as possible med mart tenants. I thought, "Medical meetings are going to locate in Cleveland because of a nearby exhibit hall for desks and floor treatments???"

The fact that Chris Kennedy also referred to the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology as a "tradeshow" made me wonder whether Kennedy might suffer from a fundamental confusion. In particular, does he believe physicians are essentially indistinguishable from other "tradesmen," and should be regarded much like department store buyers?