Custer-Nugent Amphitheater renovation timeline

Project: Custer-Nugent Amphitheater renovation

Property location: Mill Race Park

Owned by: Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, City of Columbus

Current status: In use

Stakeholder committee created: Yes

Request for Proposals used: Yes

How Request for Proposals were opened: Opened March 21 by Columbus Redevelopment Director Heather Pope, arts district consultant Jayne Farber and clerk-treasurer chief deputy Pam Harrell at City Hall. State law requires that Request for Proposals be opened in public. The Request for Proposals says the responses were to be opened in a redevelopment commission public meeting March 17, but that did not occur as additional time was given to some companies whose materials were sent to the wrong address, according to Farber. City Attorney Jeff Logston said Indiana law does not require responses to Request for Proposals to be opened in a public meeting or require a designation of who may open the responses.


April 2013: Jayne Farber puts together a 10-member amphitheater steering committee to recommend an architectural firm for the project. Besides Farber and redevelopment director Heather Pope, both paid by the city, eight volunteer members of the community agreed to contribute:

  • Chuck Wells, The Republic publisher
  • Cindy Frey, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce president
  • Hutch Schumaker, Columbus Capital Foundation board chairman and president of Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
  • Buck Ritz, Milestone Contractors business development representative
  • Tami Sharp, Columbus Area Arts Council program director
  • Chris Crawl, Columbus Area Arts Council technical director
  • Kathy McPeek, Columbus Parks and Recreation Department program director
  • David Bowden, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic music director and conductor

August 2013: The city announces it would seek proposals for the redesign.

Feb. 13, 2014: The city releases a Request for Proposals to multiple architectural firms that specialize in outdoor amphitheaters.

March 17, 2014: Sealed responses to amphitheater Request for Proposals due to the Columbus Clerk-Treasurer’s office in care of Heather Pope, redevelopment director.

March 21, 2014: Four firms respond to the proposal, given to the Columbus Redevelopment Department where they were date-stamped and held until the project deadline. Responses were received from Westlake Reed Leskowsky, Cleveland, Ohio; Cunningham Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Studio Red Architects, Houston, Texas; and Ftl Design Engineering Studio, New York City, New York. Farber said the deadline was slightly extended because some of the requests for proposals had been sent to incorrect addresses.

March 24: The Request for Proposals were opened by Pope and read aloud in the clerk-treasurer’s office, according to Farber’s records. Witnesses included Farber, arts district representatives and Pam Harrell, chief deputy in the clerk-treasurer’s office. Those who responded were logged into a Request for Proposals register at the city clerk’s office which lists the responses. Farber said this was done so there were witnesses to opening the proposals. According to the Request for Proposals, the responses were to have been opened at 6 p.m. March 17 in a public meeting of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission. However, the amphitheater Request for Proposals does not appear on the agenda for that meeting. Farber said extra time was given to some respondents because materials about the Request for Proposals were sent to the wrong addresses. Farber’s notes from the meeting say the amphitheater committee is to receive the responses to begin the review process March 25 to April 4.

April 1: The amphitheater committee meets to evaluate the proposals and selects four firms to interview from the responses. One firm withdraws from the process before interviewing.

June 10: Three firms traveled to Columbus to interview for the project with the amphitheater steering committee, in a public all-day session at City Hall. Each firm provides specifics about how it would approach the project and their experience in designing amphitheaters. The committee recommends Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland.

June 30: Amphitheater committee members have followup conversations and exchange emails after the interviews and agree to recommend Westlake Reed Leskosky to be hired as the amphitheater consultant. Farber sends a memo to the redevelopment commission saying the committee’s recommendation is unanimous.

July 1: Farber’s contract as city consultant ends.

July 28: Westlake Reed Leskosky makes a presentation to the redevelopment commission. Mayor Kristen Brown says she wants to gauge interest of the Columbus City Council after learning cost estimates could range from $3 million to $4 million-plus to construct a new, wider stage, add seating and a canopy over the audience and side curtains.

Aug. 1: Westlake Reed Leskosky makes a presentation to the city council. Council members agree to hire the Cleveland architect on an interim, hourly basis to continue redesign work on the amphitheater. Council members also asked the firm to conduct public information sessions so area residents can give input about the proposal. Brown suggests the Columbus Park Foundation lead a fundraising effort to help pay for the project.

Aug. 20: The city agrees to pay the Cleveland company up to $15,000 to complete pre-design work for the renovation of the amphitheater.

Oct. 20: Redevelopment commission delays a vote to hire a consulting firm to develop a market study and capital plan for renovation of the amphitheater. Westlake Reed Leskosky had recommended AMS Planning and Research Corp., a Southport, Connecticut-based management consulting firm that specialized in cultural development.  

Oct. 21: A public open house and roundtable discussion on the proposed revamp of the amphitheater is conducted at Mill Race Center to provide feedback. A public survey is announced where residents can provide feedback online.

Nov. 17: Redevelopment Commission agrees to spend $42,000 for a contract with AMS to develop a market analysis, programming plan and a rough operating budget for the amphitheater. As part of the revised contract, the consulting firm has scheduled two meetings in Columbus, including one to city officials.

March 4, 2015: AMS gives its recommendations to city officials, including advising to operate it through the parks and recreation department or a contract with a nonprofit.

May 20 and 21: At city redevelopment commission and city council meetings, Redevelopment Director Heather Pope and amphitheater committee member Chuck Wells reviewed the timeline of the amphitheater project, which has been hold since then.