Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
MMPI PLAYING WITH CLEVELAND & CUYAHOGA COUNTY
Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 21:26.
I talked with MMPI’s Mark Falanga after a three hour Council briefing to ask a simple question. Did MMPI expect to build a private medical mart on public land at no cost?
MMPI’s Falanga told Council that among a number of possibilities examined, MMPI wanted to build its Medical Mart on the Mall area between City Hall and the County Courthouse overlooking Lake Erie. Well, who wouldn’t, especially for nothing.
Falanga kept saying that the County was paying the City of Cleveland $20 million, as if that answered my question. The $20 million was for convention center and public auditorium. The latter Falanga has tossed out as useless or worse.
The site originally expected to house MMPI’s Medical Mart was on private land that had to be purchased. MMPI failed to make a deal.
I asked Falanga that since MMPI was rejecting the purchase of private land at St. Clair and Ontario was he now proposing to build it on public government land, the Mall, at no cost. He told Council members that the owners wanted $24 million, a budget breaker, for the St. Clair site.
But he wouldn’t answer my question. He kept dodging it by referring to the $20 million deal between the county and city.
A cost for the city land hardly got mentioned by city officials.
Not until late in the three hour meeting did a Council member address the question of payment for the site Falanga proposed for the Medical Mart. Zach Reed asked Falanga, “Are you going to pay for Mall D?” That’s what Falanga called the site where he wants to build. I’ve never heard of Mall D. It’s really Mall C and the overhang down toward the railroad tracks.
He told Reed that it was included, apparently referring to the $20 million price tag agreed to by the city and county. Reed, unfortunately, dropped it there.
Since he was expecting to pay $17 million – an estimate set by the Greater Cleveland Partnership - for the Ontario/St. Clair site, what was he going to pay for the city’s land, I continued to ask.
Falanga did the fandango.
Here he was bald-facedly expecting me to believe that he shouldn’t have to pay for a site overlooking the lake because he couldn’t – or wouldn’t - deal for a site overlooking St. Clair and the side of the Marriott hotel.
Falanga – who one Councilman credited with a good poker face – gave me the poker face. He said that the County was paying the city $20 million for the convention center, indicating that that covered the price where his business was going to go.
Apparently, that’s what MMPI has wiggled itself into and seems to be making progress convincing City Council and the Frank Jackson administration.
MMPI told Council that it couldn’t deal with land owners at St. Clair and Ontario. They were asking too high a price. These properties were needed to build the medical mart as part of the deal for a new convention center. Falanga said that the price of $17 million was too much. Two representatives of the owners at the meeting said after that MMPI had not negotiated with the owners. One said MMPI had made two telephone calls to his client. Another said MMPI offered $800,000 to one parcel owner and the owner countered with $6-million. But there was no dickering. No counter offer. They just walked away.
Council members were worried about the future use of Public Hall. Three, unfortunately, pressed County Administrator Jim McCafferty to press the County Commissioners to extend the sale tax increase voted to fund this project.
Council members Brian Cummins, Mike Polensek and Matt Zone asked that the quarter percent sale tax increase be extended five more years beyond the 20 years the Commissioners voted. That would bring in more than $100 million. McCafferty said that the Commissioners had extended themselves as far as they would on the sales tax.
The idea that Cleveland would allow a private business to build a Medical Mart on public land at no cost and violate the Group Plan for government buildings going back to the start of the last Century attest to how corrupting and indifferent our governing bodies have become.
It’s likely unthinkable that any city administration would even consider allowing a private business to occupy that Mall space.
This is what Harper’s Weekly said of the Cleveland plan back in 1904:
“Probably no city in the country, outside the capital, has undertaken the systematic development of public architecture and parkage (parks) on so splendid a scale as has the city of Cleveland…. (The creation of the Group Plan Commission is) the most significant forward step in the matter of municipal art taken in America. It is comparable to the designs of Napoleon III, who remade Paris… or to the prescience of Jefferson, who called to the aid of the new government a distinguished architect in the laying out of the national capital on its present scale… Here is a city among the most radical in its democratic tendencies of any in the country courageously authorizing the expenditure of from ten to fifteen million in the development of an idea. It suggests a new conception of the municipality.”
And we’d ruin that for a so-called medical mart.