Med mart signs anchor tenant

Furniture company lease was a year in the making; NMTC still targeting 2013

The Nashville Medical Trade Center has landed its first health care manufacturing tenant, Michigan-based medical furniture firm Nurture by Steelcase.

The five-year lease gives Nurture 4,000 square feet of showroom space in the 1.5 million square foot project, making it the anchor for the sixth floor “neighborhood” dedicated to health care furnishings. The company will also have the option to add additional square feet as needed.

The lease was about a year in the making, according to Cole Daugherty, spokesman for NMTC developer Market Center Management Co., who said his company is various stages of discussion with other potential tenants for the med mart, which will occupy the current Nashville Convention Center space and a multi-story addition.

“My understanding is it was at least a 12-month process and that same process is under way with many, many companies at different stages of the game. Some of them, to use a baseball metaphor, are on first base and some are rounding third and coming home. So we’re excited that this one has reached home plate,” Daugherty said.

Nurture, based in Grand Rapids, manufactures furniture for health care environments, such as caregiver hubs, exam, infusion and patient rooms, family waiting areas, and others. Its parent company, Steelcase, is a global publicly traded company (Ticker: SCS) with 2010 revenue of about $2.3 billion and some 13,000 employees around the world.

With its lease, Nurture joins a handful of organizations that have committed to taking space in the trade center. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has the largest lease, at 25,000 square feet. A Beijing-based investment management company in February reserved 10,000 square feet to create a China Pavilion for showcasing health care products and services from that country, and a New York consulting firm plans to use 5,000 square feet to create a Global Business Development Center.

Lipscomb University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center also have education-related agreements for the NMTC.

Despite the short length of that list, Daugherty said the NMTC is still on track to open in 2013. Though in order for Market Center to secure funding and begin renovations on the existing convention center, it must have 60 percent of the 11-story project’s leaseable square footage under contract.

“We’ll need to be aggressive this year in signing up our goals in order to meet our timetable,” Daugherty said.