The renovation of the former Carson’s FairOaks Mall is expected to begin soon as Columbus Regional Health moves forward with its part of the NexusPark project.
Hospital officials discussed the proposed work at a recent Fair Oaks Community Development Corp. board meeting.
“Our first occupation, on the CRH side, will be hopefully September 2022, if schedules continue as planned,” said Jim Bickel, President and CEO of CRH. “It will be located in the old Carson space for this service.”
The store closed in 2018. It was one of the mall’s first major tenants in 1990 and initially operated as Elder-Beerman. The space was used in the fall of 2020, serving as a voting location during the election.
David Lenart, director of facilities and materials at the hospital, said the plan is to keep the structure of the roof and exterior walls but “to change a lot inside the building.”
CRH is looking to create a demolition package to be released at the end of this month, he said. Then the “selective demo or targeted demolition” will begin in the old Carson building and possibly extend east of Carson’s space.
“We will let part of the demo package be detailed before we commit to what we are going to tear down over the next two months,” he added. “The only thing we know, from a FOCDC point of view, is that we want to maintain as much walking in malls as possible, especially if we get through the winter months.”
Figuring out what to take on at one time could be the “biggest challenge for the team,” said Lenart. The hospital plans to keep a space for walking, but it could be on a smaller track for a few months until the work is completed. It is also possible that a wider track will be part of the final product.
NexusPark is a joint venture between the City of Columbus and Columbus Regional Health. The two entities joined forces in 2018 to buy the shopping center with the aim of transforming it into a wellness and leisure center.
On the CRH side, the hope is to complete the development phase of the design in December and launch an offering in January, Lenart said.
“Our first department is scheduled for September 1, 2022,” he added. “We will be looking at continuing to grow the rest of our services, possibly in the fall of 2023. And we could have a phased approach.”
On the city side, director of community development and administration Mary Ferdon said officials are currently focusing on two things. One is a country house, which will be on the north side of the property. The other concerns the spaces of the park service, which will be located inside the current property.
“The city will be holding another design workshop with our architects and other teams in October as we work on the final schematic design and cost estimates and phases,” Ferdon said. “… We are always on schedule. We still hope that by winter 2022 we will have tender documents on the ground, and by spring 2022 we will have our tender documents for park spaces.
Regarding funding, she said the city plans to use an EDIT bond estimated at $ 20-22 million for the sports complex and a park bond of around $ 11 million for spaces in the Department of parks. The final numbers will depend on factors such as project costs and interest rates, and the city hopes to sell those bonds in May 2022.