Firm picked to redesign city’s riverfront

Chairwoman: Illinois design company’s proposal included public input as component

A design team has been selected to help the city redesign its downtown riverfront.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission on Monday approved a resolution to select Naperville, Illinois-based Hitchcock Design Group for the riverfront redevelopment project at a cost not to exceed $299,000.

The firm, which also has an office in Indianapolis, was selected after five design teams submitted proposals, according to the city.

A team composed of city officials and local residents evaluated proposals from the five companies before recommending Hitchcock to the commission.

The riverfront, a stretch of the East Fork White River that rolls through Columbus, is best known for its low-head dam and the rushing-water sound it makes as water cascades between two major bridges carrying traffic in and out on the west side the city.

Fishermen sometimes use sand bars to fish near the banks, and kayakers are common during warm-weather months.

The river’s value as a tourist attraction was highlighted this year with opening of the Upland Columbus Pump House, which brought new focus on the potential to attract visitors from around the state to the city’s riverfront for entertainment and recreation.

Hitchcock Design Group was selected after receiving high marks in areas such as riverfront project experience, trail design and dam-modification experience and economic development involvement, according to a memorandum from city redevelopment director Heather Pope.

Fee proposals from the five companies — REA, Forum, Stantec, MKSK and Hitchcock– ranged from $117,000 to $299,000, said Karen Valiquett of CORE Planning, Indianapolis.

Valiquett’s firm was selected as a consultant to guide the city in how to obtain a workable design plan for the area.

It was hired for a maximum of $90,000 for 50 weeks of work to assess the riverfront land in downtown Columbus, including the low-head dam and former landfill, to determine how it could be improved for public use.

Redevelopment Commission chairwoman Sarah Cannon said she looks forward to getting the design for the project underway.

She added that the city will attempt to negotiate the $299,000 fee as part of contract discussions to see whether it is able to get additional services out of the scope of work to be provided.

Cannon cited Hitchcock’s proposal included public input, which she stressed is important in the process. Once a contract with Hitchcock is negotiated, it will go before the commission for consideration — likely to occur by February, she said.

Also Monday, the commission approved spending up to $180,000 to pay for the extension of International Drive. Money for the extension — about 550 feet — will be paid out of tax-increment financing dollars from the city.

Dave Hayward, executive director of public works/city engineer, also informed the commission that a lift station will need to be installed in the area, although he did not immediately know how much that would cost.

What's next

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is expected to consider a contract once it is negotiated with Hitchcock Design Group by February.

Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com