Columbus Capital Foundation didn’t have to look hard or far to find a consultant ready and able to help put together options for reuse of the former Sears retail and auto stores.
It selected Glenn Gareis with GMG Architects, Carmel.
“He knows the community and has worked here several times,” said Hutch Schumaker, chairman of the foundation board.
The consultant’s previous projects in Columbus include completing the Vision 20/20 study, the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation’s reuse study for the Commons Mall when he worked for Development Concepts and the Columbus Arts District.
Gareis said Vision 20/20 was an effort to look at ways of revitalizing the downtown and find a place for new uses or new activities besides what already was being done.
The recent Fourth Street renovation project was a result that study, he said.
Gareis said his work will be trying to gauge what people will find to be the most beneficial use of the former Sears property.
“Sometimes the best ideas come when you have your mouth shut and your ears open,” he said.
Gareis said with the exception of Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, Columbus has outperformed any other community he has worked with in the past.
“Columbus is proactive,” he said.
“They persevere. If things aren’t working out, they will stick with them until they do work out. They don’t give up.”
Board secretary Tracy Souza said Gareis is pulling together information from 14 additional studies about the downtown area as part of the process of determining possible options for the property.
That information along with input from two focus groups and an open house will be assembled by Gareis and the foundation board, said Souza, who also is president and CEO of the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
At that point, the board will at least have options to consider. It won’t, however, be tied to any of those options, Schumaker said.