NEW ALBANY — An amphitheater is just one possibility that could occupy a city-owned parcel downtown that New Albany officials are eyeing for development.
At Tuesday's Redevelopment Commission meeting redevelopment Director Josh Staten proposed a $25,000 contract with Axis Architecture & Interiors to look into the feasibility of creating a project on the property spanning State and Bank streets near the riverfront.
Many options for the property are on the table.
"The goal is to figure out the best land use for this public space," Mayor Jeff Gahan said. "There’s all kind of possibilities for what we could do to get downtown connected with the riverfront."
After discussion, the commissioners tabled the matter for the next meeting with the plans of broadening the scope of the conceptual study. An outdoor amphitheater was among the proposed options, but the city wants to make sure other concepts are explored.
"That's such a great space," Staten said. "It's got so much potential. We want to make sure what we do there is best for the community as a whole."
Since 2000, the city has been discussing ways to use the space, which includes the parking lots between State and Bank streets and the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Main and Pearl streets. Gahan said the city is considering the concept of moving the Riverfront Amphitheater out of the floodway into the new space, but it would be only one of many options.
Redevelopment Commission President Irving Joshua said parking is a major factor in development of the property, and the city needs a project that would not take up permanent parking space, such as an amphitheater only used for specific events.
Joshua said he does not know exactly what the amphitheater possibilities would look like, and he wants to explore how any changes would affect the current riverfront venue's relationship with the Ohio River Greenway.
"That's the question that begs answering—are we talking about moving it?" he said. "If we're moving it, it might have some convenience and bring some more people in the downtown area, but what does it do to the Greenway? The [Riverfront Amphitheater] is a fixture there, and people do attend that."
Redevelopment Commission member Scott Stewart said it was his first look into the potential conceptual study, and he wants more time to think about it and gather information before the commission proceeds with the contract.
"I don’t think I’m ready to give 25 grand going toward the concept development before we’ve had a chance to discuss it further," he said. "Twenty-five thousand isn’t $100,000, but at the same time, if it looks like we’re relocating the amphitheater … I don’t think I have enough information to jump into this without further discussion."