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Columbus Mayor looks to complete “Vision” in 2009

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong says the city will likely finish its downtown revitalization plan in 2009 despite shortfalls in the city’s tax revenue.

The city began the “Vision 20/20” plan four years ago with the intent of bringing a new parking garage, indoor sports arena, hotels and office building to downtown. Armstrong says 2009 should see the last pieces of the puzzle completed or on their way to being so.

That includes a retooled Commons, Columbus’ downtown retail and meeting space. Armstrong says the Commons project will cost around $18 million. Half of that total has been donated by private individuals, companies and foundations.

“[It’s the] perfect time to be building this. Interest rates are way down. Steel prices are way down,” Armstrong said. “I look in 24 months that the economy will start to turn around, I hope. What better time to save taxpayer’s money when only half of the money will be bonded and at some really good interests rates and materials cost.”

Armstrong says the new Commons, which will feature an expanded indoor park and banquet areas will not add to the city’s architectural legacy. He says the city has a difficult time balancing the city’s want for architecturally distinguished buildings while also meeting its bottom line.

“This Commons: it’s not going to be an architectural wonder. It’s going to be a basic facility that looks pretty decent, okay?” Armstrong said. “But then again we’ve have a little help with architectural fees. How are you going to kick anybody in the teeth over that one?”

Armstrong says the city is also close to making “positive announcement” concerning an indoor sports arena at Mill Race Park within the next seven to ten days.

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