CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a $46 million project renovating a downtown building that has already cost taxpayers big money.

So, we investigated what the new project will cost you.

We’ve found sweeping new plans for the building at Ontario and St. Clair, once known as the Medical Mart. It is currently known as the Global Center For Health Innovation.

The building is connected to the downtown Huntington Convention Center.

A lot of your money has already gone into it, but it sits mostly empty and unused. It’s only eight years old, but massive renovations are already planned.

When the I-Team went in a for a look around, security stopped us even though it’s a public building.

One guard said, “We’re going to have someone come and talk with you.” 

Another said, “You have a camera, sir.”

Drawings reviewed by the I-Team show big changes.

Dave Johnson, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, said, “Larger meeting room space, more ballroom space, outdoor patio space.”

He said the changes need to be made so the city can attract more groups and meetings, as well as bigger conventions.

He also claimed the cost to taxpayers, right now, is zero since this involves county money saved over time, but the I-Team challenged that.

Johnson said, “We’re taking the initial funding out of the capital improvement fund.”

We reminded him that’s made up of tax money collected from the county earlier.

He responded with, “That has been saved and utilized for capital improvements. So it’s already there.”

We pointed out that’s not ‘zero’ tax dollars. Again, once crews start knocking down walls and doing construction, the total cost will add up to tens of millions of dollars.

While the convention center has no plans to ask for new taxes, the exact cost of all this to you is still not clear.

Government watchdog Rob Slattery reacted to the I-Team, saying, “In true fashion, in this day and age, you have a problem and your answer is to just throw money at it thinking that’s going to solve the problem.”

The convention center is counting on improvements to the former Medical Mart to help bring more money into the city.

But Slattery is not sold on it given how much has gone into that building already.

“And, that’s just to me, you’re going down a dangerous road,” he said.

All of the work on the new project should be done in about two years, in time for a big convention coming into Cleveland.