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Funding issues, revisions delay brew pub, eatery

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Development of a restaurant at the former Columbus senior center overlooking White River has been put on hold as chef Daniel Orr seeks funding for the project.
Development of a restaurant at the former Columbus senior center overlooking White River has been put on hold as chef Daniel Orr seeks funding for the project. PHOTO BY JOE HARPRING

Plans for a restaurant and brew pub at the former Pump House, next to the Second Street Bridge in downtown Columbus, have been delayed until at least the end of the year.

Chef Daniel Orr is targeting the opening of the Columbus restaurant for next winter or spring 2014, he said Monday in an email to The Republic. He owns a restaurant with a similar theme in Bloomington.

Mayor Kristen Brown said Orr’s original plan for the city-owned building, constructed as the city’s Pump House and later used as the Bartholomew County Senior Center, was to be up and running as a restaurant by now.

Orr had indicated previously that he was eager to open a restaurant in his hometown and hoped to employ 35 to 40 people.

Pump House history


Originally opens as the city’s pumping station.


Bartholomew County Senior Center moves in.

July 2011

City approves a five-year, renewable lease with chef Daniel Orr, who planned to open a restaurant/brew pub by fall 2012.

January 2013

Orr said he is making revisions and updating his plans, with a targeted opening of either next winter or spring 2014.

The plan called for a family-friendly restaurant with a menu that focused on fresh, local ingredients. Renovations were planned for inside the historic structure, with herb and vegetable gardens and outdoor seating overlooking the river on the outside.

Given the changing landscape of downtown Columbus, Orr said Monday that he has had to make revisions to his plans and update material for investors and his legal team.

Terms with the city include Orr maintaining the interior and exterior of the building and paying for insurance and property taxes, plus paying an annual rent of $1,200 a year.

“I do believe he has an exciting vision for the property,” Brown said, noting that the lease was signed before she took office as mayor.

The lease, approved in July 2011 by the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety, includes a five-year term from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016, with four extensions of five years each.

In a discussion at last week’s Columbus Redevelopment Commission meeting, Brown gave an update on the project, indicating that Orr was running into fundraising problems.

“He has not started raising money yet for the restaurant,” Brown said. “And today, he doesn’t have a complete operating memorandum done.”

Brown said the lease did not specify any definitive time frame on when the restaurant was required to open.

City Council member Frank Jerome, a member of the Redevelopment Commission,

expressed concerns about the condition of the building. The mayor and City Attorney Kelly Benjamin said the city is responsible for maintaining the grounds but Orr is responsible for the building maintenance.

“If something bad is happening to it, we need to intercede,” Jerome said. “It is an old roof and an old building.”

A graduate of Columbus North High School and Johnson & Wales University, Orr celebrated the fifth anniversary of his Bloomington restaurant Sunday. He previously worked at restaurants in France, Belgium, New York City and Anguilla in the British West Indies.

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