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Commons history 2000

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Editor's Note: As part of a commemorative section on the grand reopening of The Commons, we compiled clips from some of the most important stories about The Commons in our electronic library. Here are some of the highlights from 2000.

February 4, 2000

25 years of arts fund raising

By Kelly Hoffman

The Republic

Looking back on 25 "unforgettable" evenings that raised money for the arts in Columbus, unCommon Cause celebrates its silver anniversary this year.

Black tie is optional at the 25th annual fund-raising dinner and auction Feb. 19. This year's theme is "Unforgettable."

"What is unforgettable to me is the willingness of the community to support this endeavor year after year," said Leighton Turner, who again will be the auctioneer.

Turner has auctioned items for unCommon Cause since its second year.

"The most unforgettable part for me is all the people, as I sit here and think about the last 25 years, who have given their time, talent and money. Year after year I can count on them being there," he said.

Tinges of silver will color The Commons and music from the swing era by the Al Colbine Septet will get attendees on their feet.

Gert and Kirstie Roslender, world champion ballroom dancers, will lead the crowd in the first dance to Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."

April 18, 2000

Commons vital, needs more

By Boris Ladwig

The Republic

The Commons Mall is a vital part of Columbus but needs another anchor store to better compete with other shopping areas, said a group of apprentice community leaders.

Five members of the Leadership Bartholomew County Class of 2000 presented their mall study and conclusions Thursday afternoon at The Commons.

In contrast to the Commons Mall, Columbus retail areas, including West Hill Shopping Center, Wal-Mart Plaza, Clover Center and Eastbrook Plaza, all feature a grocery store or pharmacy, Rick Caldwell pointed out.

A similar store could help the Commons Mall attract more downtown area residents, he said.

Other stores that would benefit the mall include a cafeteria-style restaurant, popular clothing store and child/day care, said John Hatter.

The group also said the playground should continue to be modernized, and management should continue to schedule entertainment events for all adults and children.

The Commons Mall has been for sale since late last year. Irwin Management, which is asking $3.4 million, will continue to run the mall if a buyer is not found.

Someone with better ties to industry who could improve the mall better or more quickly would be the right owner, said Richard Hendrickson, who manages the mall for Irwin Management.

The 151,000-square-foot mall has four vacancies, including the 13,145 square feet vacated by Osco drug store in October.

Mike Compton emphasized that the eastern part of the mall, beyond the escalators, belongs to the city and is not for sale.

July 20, 2000

Downtown mall loses 2 tenants

By Sabine Vollmer

The Republic

Vacant storefronts are giving The Commons Mall a gap-toothed look.

By the end of July, the number of vacancies will have grown to five. That's about one-third of the number of retail spaces.

The latest tenants to leave are Queen Nails, which closed July 4, and Generation Kids, which will close Sunday.

"Our problem is we have a small mall with a lot of small spaces open," said Richard Hendrickson of Irwin Management Co., which rents retail spaces at The Commons Mall.

That makes it look worse than it is, Hendrickson said.

Based on square footage, 86 percent of The Commons Mall retail space is leased.

The 13,145-square-foot mall has been for sale since last year.

Hendrickson acknowledged would-be tenants may be concerned about an upcoming change in landlords.

But he said the vacancies are not a result of listing the mall for sale.

Queen Nails closed without announcement. Generation Kids posted a notice to customers.

Debbie Garber owned the children's clothing store for about 2½ years.

November 18, 2000

Mall developer buys Commons

By Sabine Vollmer

The Republic

An Indianapolis developer has agreed to buy The Commons Mall.

The 150,614-square-foot downtown mall, owned by Irwin Management Co., will be purchased by Renfro Development Co.

Asking price was $3.4 million. Irwin Management declined to release the sale price.

The two sides announced the purchase agreement Friday, said financing has been arranged, and expect to complete the transaction by the end of the month.

The mall has been for sale for more than a year.

"We waited a long time for the right person," said Sarla Kalsi, president and chief executive officer at Irwin Management.

"We wanted to put The Commons Mall in the best possible position to succeed."

Herman Renfro, owner of Renfro Development, worked for Simon Property Group in Indianapolis for 17 years before starting his company three years ago.

Since then, he has directed urban development projects in Hammond, West Lafayette and Cincinnati.

As Simon Group senior vice president, Renfro led the design and construction of Circle Center Mall in downtown Indianapolis. He negotiated the financing, worked with the Historic Preservation Task Force and secured leases with two department stores, Nordstrom and Parisian.

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