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Cleveland’s convention kabuki continues.
Fred Nance got it about right, Cleveland’s convention kabuki departed from traditional forms. “It wasn’t a well-choreographed play.”
Ad hochery never is.
But you couldn’t beat it for pure spontaneous entertainment.
MMPI and Chris Kennedy swiped Forest City’s tablecloth without moving a fork. The move left Nance drying his teeth in front of the cameras commenting on choreography.
The week started off with Scott Wolstein (taking a page out of dear old dad’s playbook) sticking it to Sam, Albert and the Tower City proposal: “I’m not sure the back-ass of Tower City is the center of the urban core.”
Then we learned that Joe Roman’s numbers were off slightly: $168 million or so on a $400 to 450 million project. (A miscue of 35% to 40% is a little more than a rounding error: that’s about what it cost to build the Jake.)
Perhaps unintentionally, Commissioner Jones took a backhand swipe at the Partnership’s analysis, which missed the core issue that the mall site could use the foundation of the old convention center: “The cost variable is so great, it was a no-brainer.”
That’s one way to put it. (Memo to Peter: Send note to Joe expressing regret and some mumbo jumbo about not taking “words out of context.”)
Meanwhile, Bruce Harris — pumped by the PD a few days earlier as a convention center maven — likely wished that he kept his views to himself: “This is not a difficult economic decision,” Harris told us about the Tower City site. Not difficult, that is unless you forget about the $168 million.
It didn’t stop with Partnership’s rubber numbers.
The logic of the MMPI analysis turns the Partnership siting report on its head. The mall site will be cheaper and faster than the Tower City site.
In one of the week’s sweet ironies, the Forest City representative was left to sputter about the lack of a public process. (News Flash: You could not find a public process in this mess with a two ton magnet.)
Time for a rewind: the City’s 1989 Master Plan recommended the mall site for a new convention center. This week — twenty years later — the County Commission reached to the same conclusion: The convention center should be where it already is.
So we have a thirty year old idea twenty years late.
Not so fast. Commissioner Hagan assures us that our project isn’t going to be just any old convention center: “If we were just building a convention center, we are competing with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus. We’re talking specifically about medical conventions. That’s the unique difference here.”
OK. But what’s the difference between a medical mart and a showroom for bed pans? Where is the business plan for this medical mart? Aren’t you supposed to have this in hand before the County invests? (More ad hocery, I suppose.)
Anyone care to respond to Jay Miller’s article of 18 months ago?
We are left with a stark truth: No one but Sam Miller and Albert Ratner stood to benefit by moving the convention center away from the mall. For twenty years they have been pursuing a Tower City pipe dream. They’ve been running roughshod over local leadership, and they have converted the Greater Cleveland Partnership into a Forest City promotion department.
All this comes with a cost.
It’s not too much to say that Tower City has become the project that ate Cleveland’s downtown.
Over the course of these twenty years, the older generation of Forest City leadership (with complicity from compliant management at the PD, weak-kneed local politicos, and a cluelessly passive board at the Greater Cleveland Partnership) just about destroyed the civic process in this town.
A new generation of leadership will now rebuild it. Here are some additional thoughts on a new path for Cleveland.
Update from the Plain Dealer: Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan defends sudden decision on medical mart site
Last 5 posts by Ed Morrison
- Signing off - February 3rd, 2012
- "The current global development model is unsustainable" - February 1st, 2012
- Market opportunities for developing Chicago's green economy - January 29th, 2012
- Plain Dealer flubs its explanation for firing Tony Grossi - January 27th, 2012
- Linking and leveraging university assets to strengthen regional economies - January 27th, 2012