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JUNE 2-5, 2011



hen discussions about what to do with The Commons first began back in 2006, no one could guess the work, the endless conversations and the agonizing over details that were still to come. Since that time, initial surveys have been conducted, thousands of public requests

considered, millions of dollars budgeted, committees formed, money raised and meeting after meeting … after meeting … held in order to rebuild The Commons. The construction was expected to last nine months. In all, the time between initial discussion and grand opening spanned more than three-and-a-half years. Unveiled with the mayor’s State of the City address on April 19, The Commons remained a center of activity and celebration throughout the spring. Official grand opening festivities stretched across four days in early June, and community members arrived in droves. They had good reason to celebrate. And, from the looks of it, they did.

The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011


Preliminary work on shopping mall begins Oct. 7, 1971

Give details of urban renewal

Heavy earth moving equipment began work today in the west half of the downtown Columbus renewal property designated for development as a shopping mall in a project preliminary to actual construction, which is scheduled for early spring. In other developments: A problem involving plans for signalizing the new railroad location was reported worked out as was timing with a contractor over his work schedule in the super

Jan. 14, 1967

Proposed locations we re displayed Friday for the fi rst time by the Columbus Redevelop ment Commission for a 400-car downtown parking garage, a major new department store and a pedestria n mall as the group illustrated its goals for the city’s first urban renewal area. The redevelopment offi ce began distributing a pamphlet containing the map Friday after wo rd was received that the federal government has completed making a reservation of federal funds totaling $4,139,117 for the project.

, in the 1970s. mons was built m Co e Th re fo eated be The empty lot cr

dings l i u b ld o e r o To demolish m on, Jan. 29, 1971

oved ThursPlans were appr ee Columbus R day night by th to Commission development gs ditional buildin demolish 14 ad oj n renewal pr in the downtow ce ing a house on ect area, includ e ain logs from th thought to cont courthouse. county’s original

the acti While taking layed until de the board also ng, Feb. 11, of its next meeti of ation of a sale ficial authoriz land including three parcels of k area, due to the super bloc ges reenge chan al ch iicccaal certain techn ntsss.. ent c men ocu bid do bi quired in the

block area to avoid conflict with Sesquicentennial celebration plans in the area. Plans for sale of land for parking also were told. In the work started today, earth in the 2-block area bordered by Third, Fourth, Washington and Brown streets will be excavated to a depth of approximately nine feet and the excavation filled with new dirt, to create a foundation solid enough to support the planned shopping mall building.

of the inside of a large model Members of the public view 1. 197 a ll, circ civiicc mall,” the then-proposed “civ

Irwin family offers $2,000,000 mall gift Nov. 4, 1971 An offer of approximately $2,000,000 to the city of Columbus to build a downtown civic mall at one end of the proposed 2-block shopping center complex across from the courthouse was announced today by Mr. and Mrs. J. Irwin Miller and Mrs. Robert Tangeman. Mr. and Mrs. Miller live at 2760 Highland Way. Mrs. Tangeman of New York, a native of Columbus, is Mr. Miller’s sister and they are greatnephew and niece of the late William G. Irwin, Columbus financier. The proposed mall site would be on land acquired by the city for redevelopment. Mayor Eret Kline also announced that a special public meeting with the city council and the board of public works will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Schmitt School auditorium to con-

sider the proposal. Public participation was encouraged in the announcement. The civic mall concept is an integral part of the proposed design for the entire downtown shopping-civic center complex. The 2-block area between Third and Fourth and Washington and Brown streets has been designated by the redevelopment commission for shopping and public area uses. Cesar Pelli, partner in charge of design for the firm of Gruen Associates, Los Angeles, has been retained by the Irwin family to prepare the design concept. Mr. Pelli said the civic mall is planned to

serve as a hinge between the new shopping facilities and existing shops and commercial services on Washington Street and the downtown area. Sears, Roebuck and Company has signed an intent agreement to locate as the primary tenant in the shopping center complex. A spokesman for Mr. and Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Tangeman said the civic mall would occupy a depth of about 100 feet of the Washington Street side of the shopping complex. He said the facility would be a multiuse space and would serve as a major attraction to bring people to downtown Columbus.

Civic mall Commons named July 19, 197 3 By a unanim ous vote voted to c all the stru early today the forme cture fronti r Commons, ng on Wash civic mall board a name w ington Stre hich Presi “gives the et The dent Owe flavor of th n Hungerf e purpose communit ord said and activit y center. ies” planne The board d for the a ls o v o ted unanim official nam ously to se e to “The B ek to chan oard of Dir lumbus, Ind ge its own ectors of Th .” and direc e Common ted its office s of rs to explore any legal pro Coblems.

mons gallery m o C in t ar w o sh l il w ’ ‘Common Place Sept. 20, 1973

erated by the Columd craft shop to be op an s art e th for me na e new “Common Place” is th Commons. located at the top of e Th in ue ag board, the shop will be s bus Service Le on m e m Co e Th d an league the mezzanine and th Co-sponsored by the on galleries between iti hib ex ree th e th of permost the escalator on the up ton Street. structure on Washing ational medium, while ic civ e main floor in th tlet and as an art educ ou es sal ail ret a as serve the league. Common Place will ing to a statement by rd co ac s, ist art al ion uraging reg sponsoring and enco

The Commons HISTORICAL TIMELINE Construction of the complex began with site preparation, but the framework of the building did not rise until the following spring.




Downtown Columbus was experiencing the pains of its ex peers across the country—an aging infrastructure of blighted buildings and a steady exodus of retail businesses, many of which traced their history in the downtown area to the 19th century. J. Irwin Miller, the town’s most eminent businessman, and advisers proposed an enclosed shopping center that would span two city blocks in the heart of downtown. Miller commissioned renowned architect Cesar Pelli to design the shopping complex, and through their discussions, they agreed on the idea to create a family facility that would connect the shopping center with Washington Street.

The retail portion of the building, named Courthouse Center, with five storefronts occupied, opened.


1971 1971

Miller, his wife, Xenia, and sister, Clementine Tangeman, gave the $2 million “civic mall” portion of the shopping center to the city of Columbus. Under terms of the original arrangement, the family agreed to pay maintenance costs for the structure through its first two years of operation. That turned out to be an arrangement that was continued through most of the next 37 years. Pelli envisioned the public portion of the structure to include features such as a playground, a performing arts area, a restaurant and an area in which people could simply gather. An important anchor in his vision was a piece of art. Thus, “Chaos I” came to be. The original plans for the area were revised in early 1972 to accommodate a movie theater that would overlook the playground. A cafeteria (Gene’s) was also positioned on the second floor on the north side.





Pelli was asked his preference for a name and suggested “Washington Hall,” but in the spring of 1973 the board took the additional step of opening the process to the public. More than 200 people participated, a number suggesting various adaptations of the Miller, Irwin and Sweeney names. But only one suggested The Commons. That was the name the newly organized Commons Board adopted July 19, 1973.


1974 It would be another eight months before the city celebrated the official opening of The Commons. That took place over a four-day weekend in collaboration with the annual May Faire. A huge parade was held on Washington Street, in which “Chaos I” creator Jean Tinguely played a role. He led a group of area schoolchildren in painting a huge mural on Fourth Street celebrating the event.

The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Commons Apple Tree opened

June 29, 1974

Thousands see Commons, Faire “The Feast of the First Forke,” watching a balloon ascension, a performance of “Everyman” and singing by the “Sweet Adelines.” There were canoeing and karate demonstrations, a petting zoo and a “make your own fork art” booth. Antique cars and fire trucks, 100 Renaissance banners, clowns and Winnie the Pooh and “the largest marching band in Indiana” (600 members from the five senior and junior high schools), paraded down Washington Street before several thousand spectators Saturday afternoon. After the parade, 2,000 persons jammed The Commons to see a demonstration of Renaissance dancing and to participate in a community dance, featuring Dixieland, barbershop quartet, dance, rock and roll and organ music. At 10:15 p.m., fireworks exploded above downtown Columbus. Sunday, more than 500 persons heard classical guitar, bluegrass and medieval music as May Faire ended under cloudless skies. Presiding over the celebration were Scott Doup, mayor

June 3, 1974 A maintenance man vacuumed the bright green artificial turf in the playground. Workmen began welding a railing in place. Balloons rested against the ceiling, slowly leaking helium. May Faire — the 4-day opening celebration — was over. Several thousand persons, organizers estimate, toured the civic structure in downtown Columbus during the fete, watching artisans at work, puppets at play, “Chaos I” at work and at rest. May Faire began with a boom Thursday, as a violent thunderstorm rattled The Commons and rain slashed the streets during performances of “Camelot” and “Hello, Dolly.” Friday, “Gaming Day” (Thursday had been “Guild Day”) more than 1,000 persons applauded a concert of Renaissance and modern music by the Paul Winter Consort. But Saturday was the big day. Although wet grounds had threatened cancellation of a family picnic in Mill Race Park, several hundred persons joined

The Apple Tree snack bar has opened in The Commons. Owned and operated by Gene’s Cafe teria, which has restaurants in Eastbroo k Plaza shopping center and upstairs in The Com mons, the snack bar features sandwich es, salads, soups and light desserts.

of the faire, and Pam Robillard, the queen. Special guests included Mr. and Mrs. J. Irwin Miller and Miller’s sister, Clementine Tangeman, who donated The Commons to the city of Columbus; Cesar Pelli, the architect who designed The Commons and the attached Courthouse Center shopping mall; Jean Tinguely, the sculptor who created “Chaos I”; and Ninth District U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton; Columbus Mayor Max Andress; State Sen. Robert Garton; and State Rep. Frank Runge. Will there be a May Faire every year? Possibly, The Commons director, Susan Anderson, says, although any annual celebration would be smaller in scale than this year’s 4-day fete. May Faire may become a harvest festival, she suggests. “The people who helped do this, the dozens and dozens of volunteers, want to do it again,” she says. “I think it would be fun.” Fun. As one little fellow said before falling asleep much too late Saturday night: “That was a fun fair, daddy. Can we go next time?”

for d e t a n i nom s d e r d n ll’ A Hu f o r e h ot aire ‘Fairest M er May F reign ov 5

The May Faire parade on Washington Street, outside The Commons, on June 3, 1974.


, 19 April 25

hosen to and 11. spe- c vities May 9, 10 y cted tt e r p acti are ill be sele ay s w l r a e n r e h e t e v o u e M the s The q .m., M by d at 9 p ording to cial, acc ntries received t and crowne room dance at e es ball hundred he “Fair . 9 during a s for t t s e g ons. te d n m o ju the All” c e Com m Th e Th n e of have be Mother finalists im e s Siixx

n soon e p o to e c la p t e rk Public farm ma s at The Common June 13, 1975

ds up with who always en s er en rd ga e ni squash those hom o many zucchi to or If you’re one of es sh di ra hington has a ns and too few ons at 302 Was m om too many onio C e Th beans, then and not enough en at noon problem. bus area will op um ol C solution to your e th r fo s market The first farmer mons. to 6 p.m. oor of The Com fl n ai m e th sday from noon ur on Th y er July 3 ev ld t will be he Farmers marke . ow gr ing season throughout the

Top: Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis wor

ks as a crowd of more than 600 watches. Bottom:

The first combined prom for Columbus East and North high school students was held at The Commons in May. The Commons would continue to be the site for proms through 2007. The first Farmers Market was staged on the main floor in July.

May & July




Shoppers in June 1974.

Over the years The Commons would be the scene of several unusual events. Ranking right at the top would be the Garfield look-alike contest that drew more than 600 people and 200 cats their owners were sure were the spitting image of the cartoon cat. (pictured above)



The Columbus Gallery of the Indianapolis Museum of Art was moved to The Commons, a step made possible by a generous donation from Xenia Miller.



The Commons hosted its first New Year’s Eve party, an event sponsored by the Columbus Arts Guild.

Another long tradition began with the first UnCommon Cause Gala and Auction. More than 200 community volunteers helped raise more than $20,000 for programming expenses of The Commons and the Columbus Gallery of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. At the time the museum gallery was on the second floor of the Visitors Center.

Despite a year of recessionary belt-tightening, attendance for 1991 events at The Commons was reported as the highest in recent history. Nearly 88,000 people attended the 188 programs and events available, many of which are free.

The Commons was the scene of several election night watch parties, sponsored by The Republic and cablecast on the Video Action Center. Celebrities such as pianist/commentator Mark Russell and glass sculptor Dale Chihuly appeared on The Commons stage, and the community was treated to an amazing number of outstanding performances. Both the Purdue Varsity Glee Club and the Singing Hoosiers from Indiana University were featured in concerts. It also served as the home to the Jazz Festival, the Apple Festival, the Festival of the Trees, the Gospel Music Festival and more.

The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011


Commons sliding into future

ove m n o i l l i m r $1 o f t e s m u m of ArtMuse 92 olis Museu p a n ia d In unders, mmons. 9 Aug. 18, 1

to The Co ne of its fo ociates of gift from o ussed plans to move n o li il m mbus Ass 1 lu c $ o is a C y -d , b g n n d a unity in its lo Fuele Karen Berm boon for the comm in motion t id se sa s ” a s, h u s o u a enorm Columb “It will be act will be president. t r A f “The imp o m seu apolis Mu y more the Indian ty of life.” tal space b to ’s li a C u A q f rease IM terms o . ct will inc 4 to 4,693 The proje from 2,16 t— e fe re a squ than 2,500

March 21, 1992 A new spiral slide for children will replace a long-closed fire pole as part of a renovation at The Commons playground this summer and fall. Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Wilt said the project will improve safety, while new signage and other changes will make the indoor playground “a little jazzier.” The fire pole has been closed several years because of concern about the possibility of injury and liability.

Mark Russell performs at the 25th anniversary of Columbus Area Arts Council in May 1998.

What fate awaits C ommons? Sept. 27, 1999

In 1992, 6-year-old Jonathon Soto picked the winning name “The Zoomerrange” for the playground spiral slide, after a contest that brought in about 500 entries.

How about turn ing The Common door soccer aren s Mall into an in a? A day care center ? A senior center ? How about taki ng a cue from N ashville and leas retail space to m ing om-and-pop vari ety stores? Columbus has be en buzzing with ideas to revitalize mall since local the real estate broker s, downtown mer and public official chants s learned the prop erty is for sale.

Commons vital,l, n eeds more April 18, 2000 The Commons Maalllll is is a vital pa part rt of of Col olu um umbu bu us s bu butt neeed ds an a otheer an anch chor or st s to or ree to b beet ette ter co te c mp peetttee with ith it th ot o th he h e er r sh hop o pi pingg aarre reaasss,, ssaaiid d aOggr 2005 , ro 8 o ou up u p t. c off ap app ppr preen enttic tiicce co ommun unity itty leead ader ers. s

ISMF o t ll a m ll e Renfros s

nds City plans hike for Commons fu Sept. 20, 2006

Commons demolition gets formal approval Nov. 28, 2007

ns o m m o C k o o l New

r a mergommons calls fo C e Th r fo ut yo al la make the A new conceptu plan designed to a in s ie lit ci fa e d privat ing of public an . y Corp. of r the community fo t hers Hospitalit ot site a magne Br a or D ns ow l part of the Tim Dora, who ood Suites hote ew dl an C e ak m ged to Fishers, has pled ere’s a lot of llar building. do n,” Dora said. “Th multimillio go to y ad re d an “We’re on board ” t to be a part of. an as considerw e w re his company w synergy he at th ly on id sa day mmitment is Dora until Mon . He said his co te si le ib ss po a ons as ing The Comm t changes. how the concep r te at final no m

Oct. 3, 2006

$5M required to r enovate Common July 10, 2007 s The Common s would cost $5 million to renovate if city officials de cided to bypass plans to re place it, according to details shared during a public mee ting Monday. Ed Curtin, direct or of Columbus Redevelo pment Commission, said estim ated costs

of rebuilding shou ld be available in a month. That would prov ide a basis for officials to be gin figuring which option is more practical, keeping min dful that a renovated facilit y would not serve its purpos e as well as a newly built facilit y.

A mostly new Commons will rise from the current building’s rubble, Commons Board members decided at a public meeting Tuesday. The decision, made after an input session on The Commons’ mezzanine, ends any discussion about renovating the building just to save money in the short term. Columbus Redevelopment Commission recommended the action after showing attendees conceptual drawings that include a clearglass exterior, a playground, an extended-stay hotel and a larger performance area. The Redevelopment Commission will present the information again to the City Council Dec. 4. Councilman Jesse Brand, who attended the Tuesday meeting, said the presentation is a courtesy. Redevelopment Commission members hope City Council agrees to pay for up to half the $18 million price for new construction. Project leaders

have anticipated a public-andprivate split, with private donors and foundations providing the rest of the funds. Conceptual drawings show the building’s superstructure skeleton, which architect Cesar Pelli created in the 1970s, still would stand and be a part of the new building. Plans call for The Commons and The Commons Mall to close Dec. 31 and reopen during the next two years. Ir win-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, which owns the mall part of the building west of the escalator, will pay for demolition of the entire oneblock area, including the cityowned part that lies along Washington Street. Candlewood Suites, a private hotel that would connect to the privately owned part of the building, would open in early 2009, while the city-owned building section would open in spring of 2010. All construction projects are being paced to run as simultaneously as possible, with Candlewood acting as

the “trigger” for the entire building’s reconstruction. People asked about project details during the meeting. Nancy Trueblood wondered whether the performance space would be much larger than it is today. Steve Risting, who has been involved with the plan, said the space would be far larger and provide more room for dancing and high school proms, for example. Mary Dietz of Smith’s Row Food & Spirits asked whether adequate food preparation and storage room would be included for catered meals. She said that has been a problem in today’s building. Risting said plenty of space would be provided under the new plan. A man who did not give his name asked about how the site would look as the construction continues. Ed Curtin, the Redevelopment Commission’s executive director, said it would look like the parking garage construction site next door along Jackson Street.

The Commons HISTORICAL TIMELINE In September 1999, Osco Drug’s store closing prompted Irwin Management to consider selling The Commons Mall for $3.4 million. Other options considered included hiring a management company, finding a replacement for Osco or partnering with another investor. One year later, in November 2000, Renfro Development Co. purchased the mall. It was sold again in 2005 to ISMF.

After having been located there since 1981, the farmers market moved out of The Commons.



One of the premier events at The Commons was the Pritzker Awards ceremony, at which the most celebrated architects from around the world gathered to not only celebrate their profession but pay honor to J. Irwin Miller for his contributions.

The Columbus Area Arts Council and The Commons Mall unveiled plans for Artifacts, a community arts and exhibits gallery in The Commons mall. The two-room gallery featured exhibits by the Bartholomew County Historical Society and mother-daughter artists Marilyn and Susan Brackney.



Miyoshi, an automotive parts supplier of Toyota Motor Corp., made Columbus its newest home, opening a permanent office at The Commons.

The building reached a point where its bones were showing their age. The community was faced with a decision to either undertake a major renovation or gut the original structure and essentially start from scratch. Community leaders elected to demolish the building, leaving only the framework of Cesar Pelli’s original design in place. The new building was intended as a joint undertaking by the public and private sectors. The estimated cost of the new structure was set at $18 million, half to be raised through private means and the other half to be supplied through a bond issued by the city.

The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Council approves Commons project

f Commons o ce ie p n w o to ce lic chan Auction to give pub

and take out the g the come in in ph id. ra og ot ph achine,” Renfro sa out been includ- ATM m s, d m an Workers wheeled ite y, da e to bl ea ag ne on and chairs salv ent, “A lot has go pm ui eq nd ou stacks of tables gr ay ” . pl there’s a lot to do mons and ing buildfrom The Com ll be for sale as early wi ich wh s. ck The 34-year-old ed tru ction au e th the on s ek loaded them on flatb ne bi we m crews as next ing, which co . om ng e.c Inside the mall, alo av s lew on m rp d Com ounts of site pu d the city-owne re e atu th fe th ay removed small am wi sd et ur Th ton Stre the former at The Washing r fa s on so m m ity asbestos around tiv Co ac t owned safety step mos closed privately it re ce d sin an kidscommons, a s ilt on bu m ll be re demolition Com ything Mall, wi er ev t id ou sa ab ro before expected er nf ov Re s Jan. 1. opened in stage . 21 n. Ja by t next month. ou be Sha- must y two years. Building manager had the ATM gu e “W ve ha ople ron Renfro said pe

Dec. 6, 2007

Jan. 11, 2008

A plan to tear down most of the old Commons and build a new one in its place has won Colum bus City Council’s suppo rt. During a Tuesday meeti ng, council members vot ed 7-0 to back the plan, which The Common s Board formally accepted las t week. Columbus Redevelopme nt Commission, which lea ds the downtown revitalization effort, wante d City Council backing to give weight to The Commons Board’s decisio n. The City Council did no t discuss how much mone y it would give toward the new constructio n, estimated at $18 millio n.

Opponent of using city bonds wants remonstrance Jan. 21, 2009 An opponent of Columbus’ use of taxpayer-backed bonds to help pay for a new Commons has promised a remonstrance. “The city cannot afford to build this right now,” Mike Lovelace wrote in a Letter to the Editor to The Republic. Lovelace would have to get at least 100 signatures from city property owners and/or registered voters to force a remonstrance, according to a state law. The remonstrance process would involve a dueling petition drive between the bonds' supporters and its opponents. The side with the most signatures at the end of a set number of days would be declared the winner.

Shredded steel: demolition makes mess of mall Feb. 27, 2008 A view from inside during the first week of demolition. Photo by Christopher Crawl.

Commons supporters win remonstrance by 16-1 margin July 8, 2009 Construction of a new Commons can happen now that a remonstrance officially has fallen far short of halting the project. Bartholomew County Clerk Tami Hines’ voter registration office on Tuesday certified the proCommons side with 6,835 signatures, and the opposing side with 413 signatures. That’s more than a 16-1 ratio. The office disqualified 1,654 pro-Commons signatures and 136 opponents’ signatures. All signers had to own property in Columbus or be registered to vote here for their votes to count. “It’s over,” said Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong, who claims he worried about the

outcome until the end, even though the unofficial reports seemed to indicate the pro side won. But he said the victory came with a price well beyond the tens of thousands of dollars the clerk’s and auditor’s offices spent in manpower and supplies, all which came from county funds. Material costs are up from January, when Mike Lovelace froze plans for construction by filing for the remonstrance to keep taxpayers from contributing $9 million toward the $18 million total construction cost. Ir win-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, Heritage Fund Community Foundation and a public fund drive handled the rest. The remonstrance pro-

cess threw off the expected timeline by five months. Tracy Souza, a Cummins executive who helped lead the formal effort in support of The Commons, said she is “delighted” The Commons can move forward. “The results are clear and the community has spoken,” she said. “I believe we’ll appreciate The Commons more than if there wasn’t a remonstrance.” She said she and other supporters of a public bond “ran scared” initially, because they knew what was riding on the result. “We didn’t take the other side for granted,” she said. “It would have been horrible for the community, for Cummins and Tim Dora if the other side won.”

ntial te o p n o d il u b to e City officials hop

effort has cov/20 invigoration 20 on isi V ng vi s-evol under the alway Transformation n Columbus. s, a Cummins ow nt w o parking garage ocks in do bl tw e of l m fu ca nd en ha Th a . digo ered uction of Hotel In First came constr ndominiums. March 2011, co e ac Pl n should open by the Jackso ch d hi an w g s, in on ild m bu om wC office ing up for the ne said. Steel beams are go irector Ed Curtin D e iv ut ec Ex t en pm lo ve Columbus Rede

Jan. 17, 2010

The final event in the old Commons was a New Year’s Eve party in 2007. A few weeks later work began on the dismantling g of the building.







A survey concluded that the playground, stage and “Chaos I” sculpture should remain parts of The Commons upon rebuilding, according to information gathered in an interactive survey.

Cummins Inc. built an office complex on The Commons site with the understanding it would someday connect with The Commons. Dora, a hotel developer, has put off building a hotel and convention center there partly because of the uncertainty that surrounded the remonstrance, but also because of the less-than-ideal economy. Lovelace said his goal was not necessarily to win, but to bring attention to some people’s opposition while exercising his right for a legal challenge. He said the tax-increment financing district that takes in The Commons should pay for all the expense. In lieu of that, he said he at least is glad the property owners in TIF districts must help pay for the building.

She said only one out of her three full-time voter registration workers had experienced a remonstrance, and the process had changed since the state decided to count signatures from registered voters in addition to those of property owners. “My office has worked basically nonstop,” she said. Barb Hackman, the county auditor, has said her employees also worked hard to produce an accurate count. A remonstrance involves a shared responsibility between the clerk’s voter registration office and the auditor’s office. The voter registration office counts registered voters, and the auditor’s office counts the property owners.

Mayor to uts vibran April 20, t downtow 2011 n develop ment Basking in the sta fo

ge lights rcefully d of the ne efended the futur city spen w Comm e during ding dec ons h is is io 1 ns and sh , Mayor Fred Ar 6th and fi It was th mstrong ared h n e a fi l r S st schedu tate of th that boas led event e City ad is vibrant outloo ts a stage k for d a r t e the new and perfo The build Common ss Tuesday. r m a n in c e s g , ha 's playgro a and the fi und is ex ll where Armstro n $18 million fac rst busin ility pected to ng spoke ess, a fam open by . open aro ily restau late Augu u n r ant and s st. pecialty c d the middle of M offee and tea bar, s ay, hould

A combined Columbus East/ North prom was held at the new Commons on May 7.

The public was allowed to sign a steel “signature beam” that was lifted and placed into part of the future Commons. Organizers of the event wanted Columbus residents to feel a sense of ownershipp in the new building.


The Columbus Redevelopment Commission voted to allow President Tom Vujovich to sign a $1.7 million contract, selecting two architectural firms, CSO Architects of Indianapolis and Koetter Kim of Boston, to develop Commons plans and lead 12 subcontractors with specialties ranging from electrical and surveying to accessibility and acoustics.

Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety opened bids July 2 from 11 companies that wanted to serve as general contractor. Weddle Brothers of Bloomington submitted the lowest base bid of $10.69 million. Works Board officials are expected to award a contract July 28. Construction could start as early as next month with completion around mid-2011. Hines said the goal for her office from the beginning was to certify accurate numbers, no matter how much time that took. She was pleased that the certification was completed a day before deadline, given the amount of work voter registration workers had to do during a long period.

Columbus City Council approved the issuance of a $9 million bond, but that was challenged by a remonstrance drive led by individuals opposed to using public funds for the project. Supporters of both sides had to collect signatures for their cause. In the final tabulation those qualified residents in favor of the project numbered 6,835. The opponents mustered 413 signatures—a margin of 16 to 1.



Construction of The Commons finally came to completion. Mayor Fred Armstrong delivered his final State of the City address at The Commons on April 19.




2011 2011 2011

The grand opening of the new Commons took place June 2 to 5. The weekend was filled with family-fun activities, concerts and a Saturday night Rock The Commons gala that featured performances by Cathy Morris Duo and Jayne Bond and the Pink Martinis.

The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Thursday JUNE 2, 2011


ood, music, dancing. It looked like the downtown slice of Washington Street would offer all the fun of the regular JCB Neighborfests, the city’s free summer concerts held every year. But the June 2 celebration had a different air. The early-

evening performances by pop-rock performer and former Columbus resident Jim Ryser and blues-rock Hoosier Jennie DeVoe were punctuated by the community’s excitement over the unveiling of the new and improved Commons. Residents danced, yes. But this year they boogied to more than just good rhythms. They danced to the city’s latest accomplishment. They toasted the city’s vision and its future with their hearts … and their feet.

4. 5. 1. Some JCB Neighborfest guests opted to watch the on-stage entertainment from the comfort of the air-conditioned Commons lobby. At the same time last year, the area was a construction zone. 2. Indianapolis pop-rock singer Jennie DeVoe entertained as the headliner. 3. A young couple looks out over the crowd from the second floor of The Commons. 4. Nine-year-old Andrew Roese shows off his fire-breathing dragon balloon hat fashioned by Twistin' Frank the Fakir. 5. Guests dance in the street to the music of live entertainment. 6. Performer Jim Ryser posed with his balloon likeness. Photos by Andrew Laker.


The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Friday JUNE 3, 2011


riday was made for families and — specifically — for kids. The weekend’s “Very Fabulous Friday” event kicked off at 6 p.m. at The Commons with comedic performances by well-known juggler Mark Nizer and puppeteer Peggy Melchior.

Nizer brought his nationally recognized act, which included the juggling of lasers, balls and a few kitchen appliances and featured his “improbable trick,” a stunt he says took him seven years to master. Meanwhile, Melchior, of Melchior Marionettes, entertained the little ones with a cabaret show that featured 10 of her even littler handcrafted friends.


1. Children applaud a performance by Melchior Marionettes. Photo by Andrew Laker. 2. Mark Nizer juggles two machetes and an apple while unicycling. Nizer managed to eat the apple while performing the trick. “You people in the front row don’t worry. Usually when I fall I land on the people in the second row,” Nizer said with a laugh. Photo by Alton Strupp. 3. Luke Dagley, 3, tries on a pair of 3-D glasses given out before Nizer performed. Photo by Alton Strupp. 4. A clown puppet blows up a balloon during the marionette performance. Photo by Andrew Laker. 5. Peggy Melchior leads a Chinese dragon puppet through the crowd. Photo by Andrew Laker. 6. Kaitlyn Pritchard, 5, left, gets as close as she can to friend Jessyka Brown, 6, as they try to look at each other through 3-D glasses. Photo by Alton Strupp. 7. Ashley Pritchard, 8, left, points to the stage as she shares a laugh with friend Caitlin Davey, 10. Photo by Alton Strupp.




The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday JUNE 4, 2011


he big day for The Commons grand opening weekend was Saturday, and you could say the day had it all: a morning farmers market, a parade, a ribbon cutting and a dedication of “Chaos I.” That's not to mention the many games, magicians and music performances keeping residents and guests entertained throughout the affair. Then, with the setting sun arrived the celebration’s best-dressed event:

the Rock The Commons gala, held in the facility’s beautiful new Nugent-Custer Performance Hall and featuring food from downtown restaurants and performances by Cathy Morris Duo and Jayne Bond and the Pink Martinis.


5. 1. Participants in the parade make their way down Washington Street. Photo by Alton Strupp. 2. Mayor Fred Armstrong waves aboard a fire truck at the start of the parade, kicking off the festivities. Photo by Andrew Laker. 3. Officially opening The Commons to the public, a group that included David Doup, left, Ed Curtin, Sarla Kalsi, Will Miller, Tracy Souza, Fred Armstrong, Jesse Brand, Jim Henderson, Rick Johnson and Sherry Stark cut the ribbon outside the main entrance. Photo by Andrew Laker. 4. Maria Fischer, 12, hits the switch to activate “Chaos I” during a ceremony around the kinetic statue. Photo by Alton Strupp. 5. Attendees socialize around “Chaos I” following its activation. Photo by Alton Strupp. 6. Zoe Dougherty, 8, and Jenna Hashagen, 11, roll out paint with a roller set on a large sheet of paper. Photo by Alton Strupp. 7. (Opposite page) Festivities begin after the official opening. Photo by Alton Strupp.


The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011


The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011


Saturday JUNE 4, 2011




8. 1. Joe Meyer with the Cincinnati Circus Co. does his best to hold still as he poses as a mobster statue. Photo by Alton Strupp. 2. As a fan blows colored paper around her, Katie Hagen tries to grab as many green ones as she can. Photo by Carla Clark. 3. Samantha Williams gets a temporary tattoo as Reece Whitehead watches and waits her turn. Photo by Carla Clark. 4. Members of the Columbus East High School show choir dance and sing in the hot sun. Photo by Carla Clark. 5. Jayne Bond and the Pink Martinis take the stage at Saturday night’s Rock The Commons celebration. Photo by Tommy Walker. 6. Cathy Morris opens the evening’s entertainment. Photo by Alton Strupp. 7. Julie Nash laughs while mingling with friends. Photo by Alton Strupp. 8. Bob Stevens dances with his wife, Barb. Photo by Tommy Walker 9. Guests enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres from downtown restaurants as live music plays in the performance hall. Photo by Alton Strupp.


The Republic | Columbus, Ind. | Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday JUNE 5, 2011


hew! By the time Sunday rolled around, you’d think everyone would be too wiped out to attend yet another Commons celebration event. Not so for devoted Columbus revelers. The internationally touring a cappella

group Toxic Audio closed out the four-day celebration for the grand opening of The Commons with an afternoon performance of cover tunes, originals and a little bit of comedy for good measure.




1. Toxic Audio closes the four-day celebration. 2. Maggie Buffo, left, and Mary Schultz, both 10, applaud. 3. Toxic Audio sound man John Valines makes adjustments. The group dedicated an entire song to his behind-the-scenes contributions. 4. Shalisa James entertains the crowd. 5. Paul Sperrazza performs a Michael Jackson “Thriller”-themed vocal interpretation. 6. Sperrazza serenades Jessica Richardson, 18, as part of the final performance marking the historic and festive weekend in the new facility. Photos by Alton Strupp.

EDITOR: Sherri Cullison DESIGNER: Amanda Waltz COPY EDITOR: Katharine Smith ASSOCIATE EDITOR / BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY HISTORIAN: Harry McCawley ONLINE EDITOR: John Clark PHOTOGRAPHERS: Carla Clark, Joe Harpring, Andrew Laker, Alton Strupp and Tommy Walker

Commons Commemorative Section  

Celebrating the reopening of The Commons in Columbus, Ind., from The June 6, 2011 issue of The Republic.

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