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Commons history 2005

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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 2005.

March 20, 2005

Common Grounds Coffee Bar makes dream become reality

A new coffee shop in the Commons Mall is set to offer hot lattés, teacups and a house blend called Chaos.

Common Grounds Coffee Bar, across from the stage in The Commons, was scheduled to open Monday.

Co-owner Tammy Butler said her sister, Melita Holler, had for years dreamed of opening a shop.

When Holler's daughter, Bridget Steele, who works at kidscommons, learned about a mall vacancy "things just fell into place," Butler said. Another of Butler's sisters, Iris Gearhart, also co-owns the shop.

Common Grounds will offer lots of hot coffee blends, hot chocolate, muffins, coffee beans, ground coffee and coffee- and tea-related items including mugs and pots.

Butler said other products may be added depending on the patrons' response.

May 13, 2005

New branch near Lowe's to replace Commons BMV

Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles said Thursday that it plans to open a new Columbus branch near Wal-Mart SuperCenter and Lowe's on 10th Street.

Commissioner Joel Silverman said the current branch location, at The Commons, will close. He said the new branch will be a state-of-the-art facility with new computer systems.

"The service in Columbus will be equal to or better than the branch in Hope," Silverman said Thursday, after a public hearing on the proposed branch closure in Hope.

June 5, 2005

ISMF rethinks Commons gift

A financial gift that has been The Commons' lifeblood for 30 years is being considered for elimination or reduction.

Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation President Sarla Kalsi said ISMF has been examining its annual contribution since Chairman J. Irwin Miller died last year.

Regardless of the decision, The Commons' board of directors is looking at other funding possibilities to help ensure The Commons retains its status as a public hub.

Board President David Doup does not know from where that funding would come.

"I'm very optimistic it's going to be OK," he said. "We just have to step up and make it happen."

Miller, his wife, Xenia, and sister, Clementine Tangeman, donated part of The Commons building to the city of Columbus in the early 1970s. The rest, called The Commons Mall, is owned by Herman and Sharon Renfro and is not connected to the foundation.

As founder and chairman of ISMF, Miller donated annually to the maintenance of his gift, which includes an indoor playground, gathering areas and a mezzanine.

The pledge this year was $350,000. Kalsi said no decision has been made on how much, if any, money will be given in the future.

October 8, 2005

Renfros sell mall to ISMF

The Commons Mall has been sold to Irwin Sweeney Miller Foundation by Herman and Sharon Renfro, owners for the past five years of the city's first enclosed shopping center.

The transfer of ownership in the 32-year-old facility represented a homecoming of sorts since it was built and operated by Miller and Co., a business arm of the J. Irwin Miller and Clementine Tangemann families.

Sale price of the downtown center was not disclosed.

Officials of the family-based foundation said that the purchase was made to enable ISMF to participate in the Vision 20/20 downtown redevelopment that was announced recently.

As part of the agreement, Herman and Sharon Renfro agreed to manage the mall on behalf of the foundation.

Sharon Renfro stressed that there were no immediate plans for change that would affect any of the current tenants.

"My principal job is still to keep those tenants happy," she said. "We're going to do whatever is possible to keep them in the mall."

Renfro said that the couple agreed to the sale because they would still have a say in the facility's management and would have additional financial resources to pursue other business opportunities in Columbus.

December 24, 2005

ISMF extends Commons funding

An annual financial gift that has sustained The Commons as a community hub since the early 1970s has been extended through 2006.

Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation pledged $381,820, which is its highest amount in at least five years and should cover more than 90 percent of operating costs.

ISMF President Sarla Kalsi said foundation leaders decided to give The Commons' board of directors another year to find new funding.

The board will have to ask ISMF for specific amounts in future years, at which time the foundation will decide what to give.

"We want to work with each other and make this transition as smooth on everyone as we can," she said.

ISMF announced earlier this year it was thinking of cutting or eliminating its annual contribution since Chairman J. Irwin Miller died.

Miller, his wife, Xenia, and sister, Clementine Tangeman, who started the foundation, donated part of The Commons building to the city of Columbus in 1973.


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