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Columbus Commons Celebrates Fifth Birthday

Randi Walle Randi Walle Columbus Commons Celebrates Fifth BirthdayPhoto by Randi Walle.
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Any Columbus-native older than the age of six remembers City Center Mall in Downtown Columbus, located between High Street and Third Street, which officially closed its doors in March of 2009. While the mall was crowded during its peak occupancy in the mid-nineties, by the early 2000s the mall began to decline in popularity. The mall changed hands several times before the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) took ownership of the building in early 2009. CDDC had big plans for the space, and began demolition of the building in October 2009.

CDDC Chief Operating Officer Amy Taylor reported that the demolition was like surgery, each piece being removed strategically. The bottom floor of the City Center mall was the roof of the underground parking lot, which needed to remain in complete operation during demo. For those devotees who were sad to see City Center go, they can rest assured that its spirit lives on — 80 percent of the building was recycled back into the new Commons space in various forms.

City Center Mall Demolition in October 2009 — Photo by Walker Evans.

City Center Mall Demolition in March 2010 — Photo by Walker Evans.

Earlier this month, the Columbus Commons celebrated its fifth birthday. The six-acre park is home to local restaurants, a carousel, a live stage pavilion, and a large expanse of green space. The park is open to the public from sun-up to sun-down, and the carousel runs from 11:00am-8:00pm during the week and 12:00pm-8:00pm on weekends.

Taylor expressed CDDC’s desire to create a neighborhood park where people from all over could come and enjoy the new space. The park not only offers a large amount of grass for Downtown, but it also hosts several large events. Taylor credits the park’s success to two things – the programming and the community. Over the past five years, the park has learned what does and does not work for the community, and Taylor expressed that they are always open to ideas of how to make the Commons better, and she encourages community members to make suggestions for improvement. One of the things they have found that the community likes is layering events, pairing things like a family movie with food trucks and live music to encompass an entire evening of activities.

Families crowded into Columbus Commons for the grand opening on May 29, 2011 — Photo by Walker Evans.

Thousands gathered for the third annual Food Truck Festival in 2013 — Photo by Walker Evans.

One of the events the Commons is most known for is the Columbus Food Truck Fest (August 12 & 13). Dozens of trucks and craft vendors line the commons and draw in hundreds of thousands of people throughout the weekend. The Commons also offers a food truck court on Thursdays running May – October from 11:00am – 2:00pm.  Another major event they recently hosted for the first time was the Cap City Half-Marathon finish line party. Taylor’s personal favorite event is the Harvest Fair, which offers a hayride around the commons. The Commons has also hosted several major music performances like Rascal Flats, Idina Menzel, and Bastille, and this year they are partnering with Live Nation to hold three main-stream concerts: Ray LaMontange, Taste of Chaos, and NEEDTOBREATHE.

The Commons also offers free fitness classes throughout the week. The Commons is a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing, taking your kids for a carousel ride, or grabbing a bite to eat. For more information and a full calendar of events, check out their website.

For more information, visit www.columbuscommons.org.

Additional photos below by Randi Walle.

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