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Panel picks Cleveland architect for project

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A Cleveland architectural firm will present its plans to renovate the Custer-Nugent Amphitheater in Mill Race Park.

Paul Westlake, managing principal at Westlake Reed Leskosky, will outline the firm’s design options during a Columbus Redevelopment Commission special meeting Monday night.

A 10-member amphitheater steering committee is recommending Westlake Reed Leskosky as the architect to design the renovation after interviewing three firms in June.

On Monday, the firm will present the same information offered during its interview with the committee, said Mayor Kristen Brown, who also serves as redevelopment commission president. She added the firm will present design concepts and preliminary cost estimates, which range from $2 million to $4 million based on what community members want.

Renovations for the amphitheater have been on the city’s radar since last year, when the redevelopment commission first started reaching out to architects to determine which firms were qualified to design the project. The city then sent out a request for proposals in February, receiving them by the end of March.

The steering committee then interviewed three firms — Westlake Reed Leskosky and firms from New York City and Minneapolis.

The Cleveland firm wowed the group, said committee member Jayne Farber, who served as a consultant for the project until her retirement July 1. Though all of the firms presented amazing designs, Westlake Reed Leskosky had wonderful ideas and was creative, flexible, warm and engaging, she said.

Now, she said, it’s the firm’s job to impress the redevelopment commission, the city council and the community.

The point of the commission’s Monday meeting is to determine if and how city officials want to move forward and how much they would be willing to spend on the project, Brown said.

After the meeting, the city will need to make a decision on whether to hire the firm or anyone else to do the project, the mayor said.

And Brown said if the city were to bring Westlake Reed Leskosky on board, city officials already have some expectations about what the architect should do next.

“If we were to hire the firm, they would do a public input session with the public and city council, get feedback and (determine) how much the city would be willing to spend on various enhancements,” she said. “They would then design it.”

The project, if given the green light, could be managed out of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, Brown said.

Reporter Chris Jones contributed to this story.

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