CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan is sticking up for MMPI, the developer hired by the county to build and operate a new convention center and medical mart.

After Thursday’s commission meeting, Hagan cautioned Clevelanders that the community — which has raised $75 million in sales taxes to pay for the project — can’t make unreasonable demands on the Chicago firm.

“You can’t force them to do anything,” said Hagan, a longtime friend of the Kennedy family and MMPI President Chris Kennedy. “They can just pick up and go home.

The comments came a day after two Cleveland City Council members publicly criticized the company for abandoning plans to incorporate Public Auditorium into the $425 million, taxpayer-funded project. The council members also demanded public hearings for MMPI’s revised plans, which call for a modern glass edifice cascading from the edge of Mall C, between City Hall and the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.

 

That’s a drastic departure from the county’s original plans.

The county signed a $20 million deal with Cleveland last spring to buy Public Auditorium and the existing underground convention center for the convention center complex. The agreement guaranteed that malls B and C would remain parkland, since MMPI’s original plan envisioned a mart, a showplace for medical technology, on St. Clair Avenue and high-tech meeting

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