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Columbus Downtown Inc. is continuing to lose influence downtown.
The Columbus Redevelopment Commission on Monday voted unanimously to finalize a decision it made two months ago to take over the embattled nonprofit entity’s building and parking space leases for the Garage Pub & Grill, the post office and Cummins Inc.
The Garage Pub & Grill leases restaurant space at the city-owned parking garage east of the post office. The post office leases parking spaces in the same garage, and Cummins leases parking spaces at that garage and the one west of the Bartholomew County Courthouse.
Columbus Redevelopment Commission members created Columbus Downtown Inc. during the last mayoral administration to simplify the leasing of public downtown parking spaces.
However, new Mayor Kristen Brown criticized the organization for conducting business behind closed doors, got rid of its old members and is working legally to strip it of its community connections and to dissolve it.
Brown said Bistro 310 at the garage east of the post office is the last lease that remains to be transferred to Columbus Redevelopment Commission.
In other business, a committee in charge of exploring the development of a cultural arts district in the downtown presented a timeline that calls for an application to be submitted to the state by Oct. 2 for designation as an Indiana Cultural District.
That designation could generate state-level promotional support.
Karen Shrode, chairwoman for the mayor-appointed team, said the team is in a fact-gathering phase to learn where it stands as a cultural destination.
Later steps will be to develop a model for the future, identify and prioritize catalyst projects and quantify progress.
She said the team will gather community input about what an arts district should look like. The team, she said, must produce an affordable blueprint, take advantage of existing arts and cultural assets, offer a variety of experiences and follow a larger strategic vision for Columbus.
The city under Mayor Fred Armstrong was focusing on sports tourism. Since Brown came into office, it has switched the focus to strengthening the city’s existing cultural arts foundation. Arts advocates have said the shift would provide an additional tool for corporate recruiters seeking to lure workers; enhance the city’s reputation as a hub for cultural tourism; and improve the quality of life for residents, instead of simply making the community more attractive to visitors.
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