Reprinted with permission from The Republic newspaper, August 23, 2022

Workers began tearing down the former Goody’s Family Clothing Store on Monday, making way for a new athletic fieldhouse for NexusPark.

The store opened in 1998 in what was then the FairOaks Mall and later was used as Cummins Inc. office space. Renascent Inc. of Indianapolis is handling the demolition as a subcontractor for Force Construction, which is the design-build contractor on the NexusPark fieldhouse.

“Force is excited to provide this for the Columbus community,” said Project Manager Brett Siepka.

Some of the more low-key site work took place last week and the week prior. According to Siepka, workers had to disconnect utilities and separate the building from the existing mall before moving on to heavier demolition.

He guessed that a quarter or even half of the former store could be down by the end of Monday. In addition to demolishing the structure, workers will also need to sort through materials and haul them away as part of the process. It’s estimated that demolition will be finished in a few weeks.

There will then be some next steps that precede fieldhouse construction.

“Big picture: we get the demolition of the Goody’s building completed, we start on all the utility work,” said Siepka. “So your sanitary, your storm, your water lines, your electrical lines in the ground, gas lines in the ground — all that work is going to be taking place. And then we’ll start the foundation work and the building pad.”

He said that steel for the building structure is scheduled to begin arriving on Feb. 15, and the company hopes to have the project complete by the end of 2023.

The city’s contract with Force for the fieldhouse is a little over $27 million. Columbus Director of Finance, Operations and Risk Jamie Brinegar said in May that Local Income Tax bonds sold for this project will provide for about $25.7 million, and the city also plans to spend $1 million in American Rescue Plan funding on drainage work.

“Then we will use a combination of donations or reserve funds from the city to cover the full amount of the contract,” he said.

As stated on NexusPark’s website, the 150,000 square-foot fieldhouse will be a “sports and events venue that will host a multitude of different types of sporting and non-sporting events.”

NexusPark is a joint effort by the city of Columbus and Columbus Regional Health to redevelop the former FairOaks Mall into a health, wellness and recreation center. The two entities partnered in 2018 to purchase the mall facility and property at a 25% to 75% split, with the city retaining majority ownership for parks and recreation and sports tourism development. The Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County provided the difference between the selling price and the appraised value.

In addition to the fieldhouse, the campus is expected to include Columbus Parks administrative and recreational spaces, restaurant and retail areas and CRH facilities. The NexusPark site also states that “outdoor community park and gathering spaces” are planned, and Dunham’s is expected to remain on-site under its current lease.