Au Bon Pain Highlighted as Success Story for Med Mart, Which Is Still 20-Percent Vacant

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It's time for the semiannual reminder that the Med Mart — known in countyspeak as the Global Center for Health Innovation — remains an enigma: The thing can't seem to conjure up any sort of measurable success, even as it enters its fourth year as a $465-million development spur in the heart of downtown Cleveland. (That cost includes the Huntington Convention Center.)'s Karen Farkas lays out the numbers, and the bottom line tells the story: 20 percent of the building remains vacant. The building is funded via a $.25 increase on sales tax, approved in 2007.

But Au Bon Pain, the pastry chain that brought in $191,000 in revenue last year, is being cited as a success story. In fact, the business is going to move into a larger vacant space on the Med Mart's first floor, so the vacancy rate will drop a little bit. (Scene recalls an informal conversation a while back with a county official who said he gauges the success of the Med Mart on how busy the Au Bon Pain is throughout the day — which is to say, not very.)

So beyond that item, the rest of the Med Mart outlook isn't terrific. Fred DeGrandis left his post as chief administrative officer in May, and the Med Mart has been without a captain ever since. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, who announced DeGrandis' appointment originally, said: “He also leaves us with a solid foundation and a road map for a positive future direction.”

Part of that road map seems to include a "medical innovation competition." Budish and the county would pony up $100,000 — as long as a private entity matches that amount, Farkas reports — to fund whatever that is. (The Med Mart has also been used, at times, to host yoga classes and a comic book show, so we're painting with a broad brush here.)

As far as the existing tenants, the county attracted businesses by offering deals on rent (including a few $0/month rates), though some of those offers are set to expire this year. Other leases expire outright in 2018, so the fluctuations in revenue that we can expect will remain unclear until then.

Colliers International is currently marketing the building to prospective tenants. Might we suggest a Cavs Team Shop or two?

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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