Fair Oaks Mall Project Moving Forward

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The city of Columbus is continuing efforts to transform the nearly-vacant Fair Oaks Mall. Our partners at WTHR-TV report the city expects to close on its nearly $6 million purchase of the mall property and turn it into a recreational and sports tourism complex.

Plans for the project were announced earlier this year. The city is partnering with Columbus Regional Hospital and the Heritage Fund Community Foundation of Bartholomew County on the effort.

In addition to attracting regional tournaments to Columbus, the city hopes the new complex will also provide space for indoor recreation and community classes.

"That's one of our prime objectives is to provide the Parks and Rec Department with indoor programming space for all sorts of activities. There will be space for athletic programming, sports, but also cooking classes, arts programming, wellness programs from the hospital," Tom Brosey, a consultant hired by the city for the project, told WTHR. "We would like turf fields that would be used for all diamond sports - softball, youth baseball and soccer, rugby, lacrosse, all of those sports."

The mall, which encompasses 400,000 square feet on 36 acres of property, is only 30 percent occupied with many of its anchor tenants gone, according to the station. Brosey says some remaining stores, such as Dunham Sports, could remain at the site and complement the recreation complex.

The city expects to complete the mall acquisition December 14. After that happens, the city will be required to honor the remaining mall leases, which officials say will provide time to come up for a master plan for the recreation complex.

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