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Editorial: Public buy-in important to find new use for property

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Extending the Fourth Street plaza-sidewalk concept west to the former downtown Sears property, an idea supported by the Columbus Capital Foundation, is an interesting one.

After all, Fourth Street from Franklin to Jackson streets already serves as an entertainment district with a row of restaurants and bars.

A $1.7 million makeover of that stretch has made it a popular, pedestrian friendly destination. The plaza has already spurred new downtown festivals, such as BBQ, Blues & Brew, conducted June 28.

So it makes sense foundation members would want to extend the concept to breathe new life into the former Sears block from Jackson to Brown streets. That area features the post office, a loading dock and a blank wall, which foundation members consider to be incomplete.

While the plaza extension has merit, we would like to know the four other ideas Columbus Capital Foundation is considering for the property. The scenarios are coming from a consultant hired by the foundation to determine which future use would most benefit the public. They are based, in part, on public feedback.

A plan for the property — vacant since Sears closed March 9 — could be ready by early September. However, the foundation said specific details have not been made public because discussions with interested groups are ongoing and could change significantly.

We understand that is part of the art of the deal. But the sooner the ideas and details can become public, the sooner the projects can obtain public feedback and buy-in.

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