Is Medical Mart Merging With the Urban Design District Concept?

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 20:18.

I grew up and lived in Cleveland and, other than school, stayed here until I moved away for about ten years. Since coming back home, one distressing thing I've noted is that decision-makers, at all levels, closely guard information, almost as if a Captain who would rather go down with the ship, than loosen up and perhaps not go down at all.  The Medical Mart non-debate has all those strange dynamics.  Is it possible, I wonder, if a true, public-private partnership on a Medical Mart/Convention Center/Urban Design District might actually make sense after all?

Earlier, I wrote and wondered what the marketing budgets are for those who would offer products through the Medical Mart.  In a real sense, the public is being asked to pick up some element of these company warehousing and marketing expenses, but taxpayers don't really know what we are saving these company leaders. Why shouldn't the current marketing and warehousing spending be a substitute for the level of private support a company using the Medical Mart should be expected to maintain?  If these companies don't maintain their marketing spending, taxpayers are just baling out failing companies and voters should be upset at their public officials.
Who else might fill the empty or underutilized buildings within the Medical Mart area and what would they pay for the premium of being within the Medical Mart area (a sort of “Design District” along the lines of the ideas originally proposed by some at Cleveland State University and with the Cleveland Institute of Art faculty)?
Why shouldn't all these entities be willing to pay more for the privilege of co-locating and, if so, what would the city and county be expected to put into the mix?
If voters support a Medical Mart/Convention Center/Design District, does the old Convention Center get recycled through creative re-use for the arts, with an improvement plan and private funding to allow film and video production teams to use it as a production staging area, a concept that has been tested already by the City and the Cleveland Film Commission?  Could Northeast Ohio come at least a bit closer to competing with Toronto, which is building a multi-million dollar sound stage to maintain its advantages as “Hollywood North?”
These are all interesting questions and might have interesting answers that could lead the way to creating an urban design district, anchored by a Medical Mart, by perhaps creating the biggest Tax Increment Financing (TIF) area in the region ... if only the public had the information with which to make some educated decisions.  As background, a TIF is a way for a city to plow tax money back into targeted geographic areas, a sort of specific, pre-approved diversion from the city general fund. Without getting to detailed, an area could agree to tax itself more heavily, in exchange for a commitment that any added revenue stays in the area.  City merchants already agreed to do this in creating the Business Improvement District to pay for enhanced services (you know, the guys in yellow who greet people on the street, clean up  and offer directions--sometimes they are on bicycles riding on sidewalks, violating the law that bicycles are street vehicles under the laws of all fifty states, but that's a subject for another day). Given all these goals, what is the real revenue level needed to pull it all off?

O.K. Mr. Insiders, how's that for a real game plan, perhaps one based on honest disclosure? Sometimes, it seems that public officials treat residents as if they were on the double secret probation from “Animal House,” one error away, without realizing it, from catastrophe and expulsion.  Instead, maybe officials and voters can actually share information and generate a real discussion.  Isn't that the way a democracy is supposed to work?

government in the sunshine

"Instead, maybe officials and voters can actually share information and generate a real discussion."

Kevin -- you are so right, and I think you may have the sunshine law on your side. (being a lawyer – you’d know…) It is my impression after petitioning for the right to vote on tax increases that the way we learn how our government is handling our money is via the Plain Dealer. Oh no said the elites at the Shaker Market on Saturday morning, we have to hurry so NYC doesn't get it first! (The NYC deal wasn't born yesterday, and if you think Kennedy and the BOCC don't know that, you're kidding yourself.)

Elected officials are able to keep us paying by keeping us under informed; as Jimmy Dimora said in 2005 when he spoke to a PD reporter about the end of the state imposed penny tax, "it would be like pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters" (to retain .5% of that tax increase without a vote).

Well, the wool is over our eyes already, and it has remained there for as long as I can remember. People want easy solutions and Medmart is represented to us via the MSM as the final fix. When will we stop believing the boys who cry wolf (wolfslayer) or stadium or gateway or R&R Hall of Fame or any other "thing" (usually corporate welfare) that they want taxpayer subsidy for?

I just looked at the pittsburghtoday site Ed Morrison posted over at BFD. This is a great educational tool for those living in that region. We are lagging in information, connectedness and truth in spending.

I wonder what the discussion was and when and where regarding the Euclid East Ninth property decision or even the need to spend millions for a new admin building in the first place. I wonder where and when the deal (is there a deal?) with Medmart began it's journey... was it in the backyard at Hyannisport? I saw the dog and pony show twice, but I didn’t see a forum or a Q&A. What happened to Voices and Choices -- it was quickly followed by you have no voice and no choice as demonstrated by our elected officials.