City approves borrowing about $40 million for Fair Oaks Mall revamp, fieldhouse

The city of Columbus is taking the next steps to build a new fieldhouse and revamp the former Fair Oaks Mall, with Columbus City Council giving its approval this week to financing the construction.

A lease with the Columbus Municipal Facilities Building Corporation would obligate the city to pay about $1.8 million annually from the city’s economic development income tax to repay about $29 million in bonds issued by the corporation for the fieldhouse portion. That would take about half of the city’s annual economic development income tax revenue for the 25-year length of the lease.

The city envisions a roughly 150,000 square foot fieldhouse on the north side of the former mall. The project itself would cost about $25 million.

The fieldhouse costs would be in addition to the cost for the parks and recreation department administrative and community spaces in the mall, which would be repaid through a $11.5 million bond through the parks department. That was given its first approval this week and will be repaid out of property taxes.

The approvals passed 6-1 with Councilwoman Elaine Hilber voting against both. She has previously expressed concerns about the existing Donner Center facility and tying up so much of the income tax revenue for so long for the fieldhouse.

The former mall has been renamed NexusPark. The city and Columbus Regional Health  purchased the 35-acre mall site at 25th Street and Central Avenue in 2018 with an eye to making the property into a health, wellness, sports and recreation center for the city.