A $425 million plan to build a new convention center and medical merchandise mart in downtown Cleveland advanced last week as the Cuyahoga County Commission approved the purchase of the last piece of land needed for the complex.

Also last week the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved designs for the new center. The City Council still needs to approve the plan.

Cleveland is competing with Nashville and New York to be the first city to open a medical mart. The project is largely financed with a quarter-cent hike in the county sales tax. The increase so far has raised $90 million, local reports said.

Chicago-based MMPI Inc., the developer, plans to break ground in October and finish the complex by 2013. Under the deal with the county, MMPI will own and operate the convention center and medical mart for 20 years. The county will spend $38 million for the land needed for the complex. Cuyahoga officials last week said it would pay the city $20 million for the existing convention center, where the new one will be located.

Last week Turner Construction Co.  was picked to build the project. Turner built the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other high-profile Cleveland institutions.

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