The committee overseeing the Fair Oaks Mall project formally adopted a master plan yesterday afternoon for the property now owned by the city of Columbus and Columbus Regional Health.
The plan envisions transforming the building into a joint use between the two as a health, wellness and recreation center. To that end the plan calls for significant changes to the layout of the surrounding parking lots and spaces, including links to the People Trail system through better pedestrian access to the site, improved intersections leading to the property and a revamped front entrance where the JC Penney portion of the building now sits. Many of the surface parking lots would be replaced with lawn, landscaping and paths.
The interior plan would use much of the building’s existing structure and include the parks and recreation department offices, an indoor sports complex, multi-use activity courts, fitness rooms and retail that would be complementary to the health, wellness and recreation theme.
The plan also calls for replacing the aging Donner Center with a smaller, more efficient building.
Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development for the city, said that city officials are still very excited for the project, despite the roadblocks thrown in the way by the pandemic including a shrinking pool of income tax revenue, and challenges for the existing tenants. She said the needs that the city and CRH saw when they purchased the property still remain. She said that there is a pause right now, but they still intend to move forward with the project.