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City on track to shut down redevelopment board by March 15

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Mayor Kristen Brown hopes that Monday’s Columbus Redevelopment Commission is her last, as the city gets closer to shutting down a not-for-profit company dedicated to downtown development.

Susan Fye, president of Columbus Downtown Inc., told the commission that the city is on track to shut down the company by March 15. The company, established during the previous administration, was used as a tool to smooth development efforts by owning key property downtown.

It also negotiated leases at The Commons and city parking garages.

Since Brown began running for office, she has pledged to shut down the company and bring its responsibilities under the redevelopment commission so that everything is done in the public eye.

After taking office in January 2012, Brown appointed herself president of the redevelopment commission so she could ensure the corporation was dismantled.

Since then, the company has given all its property to the city, the leases have been taken over by the redevelopment commission, and all of the company’s bills have been paid.

The redevelopment commission dealt with several pieces of CDI business Monday, including giving final approval of a $146,106 annual contract with REI Real Estate to manage the downtown parking garages and deciding to give REI $25,000 for equipment purchases for garage maintenance. Fye said the city has a 14-page list of maintenance equipment that was owned by CDI and will be turned over to REI. If the equipment is needed by REI, the company will then reduce the amount of money it will receive from the city for those maintenance purchases.

Fye reported to the commission that she has advertised twice seeking any CDI creditors who might have outstanding bills for the company.

She said she received an invoice this week for $3,992 from C&T Design and Equipment Co., which said it worked on ventilation systems in The Commons for Snappy Tomato. Fye said she was not aware of the work and would bring the claim to the next meeting of The Commons Board.

Stan Gamso, attorney for the redevelopment commission and CDI, said that there is a two-year period after the advertisements when claims can be submitted. After CDI is shut down, those claims will have to be paid by the redevelopment commission.

Fye said the county had also found an error in property tax payments for the former Rhino Linings property on Second Street that CDI bought for a failed indoor sports complex project.

The county treasurer’s office said CDI still owes $7,722 in taxes from 2010. Fye said she also assumes that a similar bill would be need to be paid for 2011, before the property was transferred to the city.

Once the loose ends are tied up, the city will seek to dissolve the company. Brown said after Monday’s meeting that if CDI is dismantled before the commission’s March meeting, she will step down from the commission. Brown plans to appoint Fye to take her place.

Also Monday, the redevelopment commission tabled assigning a contract to Administration Resource Association to supervise a grant for the destruction of buildings at the former Bartholomew County REMC property at 801 Second St.

The commission wanted to investigate the salvage possibilities of a steel-framed building on the site and to see if the grant could be modified for destruction of only two of the three buildings there.

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