City authorizes design development work for riverfront

City leaders have authorized the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to spend nearly $500,000 on design development work for the Columbus Riverfront project.

The Columbus City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the commission to spend $496,900 to create schematic drawings and conduct design development work for the project along the East Fork White River between the Second and Third Street bridges. The funding for this component of the project will come out of the city’s Central Tax Increment Financing District.

Any expenditure of more than $500,000 by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission requires subsequent approval by Columbus City Council. However, the council was asked to approve the expenditure — just under the approval threshold — in an effort to be transparent and make sure “everyone is on board with the project,” Heather Pope, the city’s redevelopment director, had said prior to the meeting.

The latest Riverfront contract will be with Hitchcock Design Group, of Naperville, Illinois, which was hired by the city in December 2016 to do preliminary work on the project.

Hitchcock’s $8.6 million concept plan for the Riverfront calls for several overlooks of the East Fork White River, connections to the People Trail system and an in-water recreation park. The project is one that is expected to draw residents and visitors to the area, said Randy Royer, principal with Hitchcock Design Group.

An in-water recreation park would provide recreational opportunities such as kayaking, tubing and canoeing while making the river safer with removal of the low-head dam that currently exists, Royer told the council.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or