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City Center to be Demolished

City leaders say they hope to replace the City Center mall with a combination of a park, rental housing, offices, shops and restaurants.

The virtually empty mall will close March 5 and demolition would begin in May.

The first phase of the project depends on federal stimulus money. Mayor Michael Coleman has applied for $32 million for development in the riverfront district.

He says $15 million of that will pay for the city center demolition and the construction of a 9 acre park.

"We're asking for federal dollars," he said. "That's where we start and that's what we need. The project is $15 million for this and we're asking for $15 million."

The rest of the $165 million Columbus Commons project would be privately funded.

Coleman says it will take endurance to complete the project, which includes 5-10 years of market-driven redevelopment after the park area opens in the fall of 2010.

"For all those who believe that there's a magic wand, there isn't," Coleman said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint."

The city center parking garage - and its 45-hundred spaces - will remain..