NexusPark’s TIF district good start on redevelopment

Columbus is on the way to redeveloping the derelict FairOaks Mall, with recent initial approval of a Tax Increment Finance district that will help fund some $20 million in infrastructure improvements and preliminary redevelopment costs.

The Midtown Economic Development Area TIF district will still need further approval from the City Council and the Redevelopment Commission. But establishing the TIF district is a prudent way to fund initial phases of the proposed NexusPark athletics and wellness facility that involves the city and Columbus Regional Health, which jointly own the mall property.

Designating a TIF district including the mall, nearby Lincoln Park and Greenbelt Golf Course will allow increases in the valuation of the  district’s tax base to be captured to finance bonds that will fund improvements. For NexusPark, TIF bonds would fund up to $20 million worth of infrastructure upgrades, land acquisition and similar related costs.

Coupled with the announcement earlier this month that demolition of the former Carson’s store will soon begin, these developments are clear signs of steady early progress for the development.

It’s encouraging that this ambitious project is moving forward despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. COVID delayed the project, but there has been wide community buy-in to the plans that include:

  • An indoor sports fieldhouse;
  • Columbus Parks administrative, activity and community spaces;
  • Retail;
  • Restaurants, and;
  • CRH medical and wellness offices.

As engineers and architects draw up schematics and designs for the proposed redevelopment, the plans are slowly moving toward becoming reality.

We hope to see the community continue to rally support the vision for a redevelopment that will be a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike.

The TIF funding is just a piece of the NexusPark puzzle but a critical one. This project is precisely the sort of redevelopment that TIF districts were designed to facilitate. TIF funding would give NexusPark the financial underpinnings that would move the project forward without placing a heavy burden on city property taxpayers.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $79 million. That’s a big price tag, but we think the long-term return on investment is undeniable.

What we’ll get for that investment is a state-of-the-art facility for amateur athletics, public uses and cutting-edge health and wellness services.

But as a community, we will get much more than that.

We’ll get a model of redevelopment focused on the community’s future, shaped by the community’s input. We’ll build on Columbus’ leading quality-of-life attractions and amenities that make the city a destination. We’ll make another lasting statement that this is a city of vision.

Last but not least, we’ll be breathing new life into a former gathering place that has outlived its viability.

The old mall was once a big regional draw because of its location, and because at the time of its development, it was what people wanted. There’s no reason to believe a facility in the same location, offering activities and amenities that are in high demand, won’t also be a big draw for years to come.