Responsibility for the appraisal of a historic downtown Columbus building that has been slated to become a restaurant for more than a year-and-a-half will fall on the Columbus City Council.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Redevelopment Commission plans to wait to see what if any role the council wants it to play in the process.
Mayor Kristen Brown has said getting an appraisal of the old Pump House, next to the Second Street bridge on Lindsey Street, would give the city valuable information so it can perhaps find other companies interested in the building and follow up with chef Daniel Orr to see if there is a mutual interest in terminating his lease.
The building, formerly the Bartholomew County Senior Center, was leased to Orr in July 2011 for use as a restaurant and brewpub. Orr originally announced plans to open a restaurant last year. However, he told The Republic last month in an email that he now hopes to open next winter or spring 2014.
Nothing has happened at the location since the lease was approved, and the terms of the lease have no teeth to ensure that anything is ever built at that location, Brown has said.
Redevelopment commissioners decided at a meeting Monday to ask the council to decide whether to appraise the building and how to pay for that appraisal, given that the building is city-owned.
The City Council is in charge of city assets and can tap into the city’s general fund. The commission consists of appointed members who can tap into only tax-increment financing dollars.
Council members can bring the Redevelopment Commission back into the Pump House appraisal process if the council decides the $3,500 cost of appraisal should be paid with tax-increment financing funds.
Post office lease
Also at Monday’s meeting, Redevelopment Commission attorney Stan Gamso shared that the Columbus post office has proposed to pay less than it does today for the 75 spaces it leases in the parking garage at Fourth and Jackson streets.
The post office’s current five-year lease, which expires Oct. 1, charges the post office $72,000 a year for the 72-space block. Under its proposal for the next five years, the post office would pay $67,500 a year.
Commissioner members said they want to analyze the results of a study already in progress so they can know the cost to the city for each space and a fair market value for each space in determining charges to those who lease.
They expressed a willingness to negotiate with post office officials after the commission has that information. Post office officials did not return calls to The Republic for comment.
In other business
Monday’s meeting also saw the commission elect Sarah Cannon as its new president and Frank Jerome as the new vice president. Cannon replaces the mayor as head of the commission, and Jerome replaces Cannon as the second in charge.
The mayor had promised to step down from the commission after dismantling Columbus Downtown Inc., which was accomplished this month.
Columbus Downtown Inc. was created in 2008 during the administration of Mayor Fred Armstrong. Although the company’s board of directors were appointees of the mayor, City Council and Redevelopment Commission, as an independent nonprofit company it was able to work outside the public view.