Cuyahoga County has tentatively agreed to buy Cleveland’s old convention center for $20 million, and to help pay for the separation of the mostly underground facility from the city’s Public Auditorium.

The deal, announced this morning at a meeting of the commissioners, clears another hurdle for the county’s plans to build a new convention center beneath the downtown malls and to erect an above-ground medical mart on the west side of the complex.

“We’re working hard to make sure the convention center, the malls and Public Auditorium can work together for the highest benefit of the public,” said Jeff Appelbaum, a lawyer hired by the county to oversee the project.

MMPI, the county’s Chicago-based developer, expects to break ground on the tax-financed project in October. But the county still is negotiating with one property owner for land within the footprint of the proposed mart.

The county originally proposed to pay Cleveland $20 million for both the old convention center and auditorium, and to incorporate the auditorium into plans for the new convention center and mart, a showcase for medical equipment and technology.

But that deal fell through late last year, when MMPI and its consultants concluded that the cost of making needed upgrades to the 88-year-old auditorium would break their budget.

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Article Courtesy cleveland.com

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