The announcement that the city of Columbus and the Columbus City Schools have agreed on a land swap that will move the Columbus Africentric Alternative School to the old Woodland Meadows apartment complex site has ended the hopes of a group of Bexley organizations to acquire the site.

The announcement that the city of Columbus and the Columbus City Schools have agreed on a land swap that will move the Columbus Africentric Alternative School to the old Woodland Meadows apartment complex site has ended the hopes of a group of Bexley organizations to acquire the site.

When the Woodland Meadows apartment complex was foreclosed on and razed by the city of Columbus, local organizations headed up by the Bexley Community Foundation began exploring the possibility of redeveloping the site for what Bexley City Schools Superintendent Mike Johnson called an opportunity to increase recreational and athletic facilities.

The city of Columbus paid $2 million for the property and spent another $3 million to demolish the apartments in 2007.

In a joint press release issued by the city of Bexley and the Bexley Community Foundation, Mayor Ben Kessler confirmed the community's interest in the site.

"Bexley stakeholders were encouraged to explore options for development of the site for recreational uses," he said. "In 2011, the Bexley Community Foundation facilitated a study group to review alternative uses for the site. These groups include the city of Bexley, Columbus School for Girls, Capital University, Bexley Athletic Boosters and the Bexley Education Foundation. All saw an opportunity to develop the site for athletic and recreational purposes for residents of Bexley and surrounding neighborhoods."

Kessler said the community welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Africentric Alternative School in the future.

"Having the Africentric Alternative School involved as a likely user is a desirable outcome for the Woodland Meadows site," Kessler said. "I think the next step is to reach out to the Africentric School and the Columbus Board of Education and explore possible opportunities to partner in the creation of mutually beneficial recreational facilities at the site.

"Regardless of any role that Bexley-based organizations might play in collaborating on shared facilities in the future, having this school as an anchor along the James Road corridor and at our northeast border will bring a new energy to the area and will help to stabilize surrounding properties. Africentric will be a great partner in this neighborhood, and I'm excited about what this means for the area."

"The relocation of the Africentric School to this site is a very positive development for the East Side of Columbus and a good outcome for a piece of property that has had a troubled past," said Susan Quintenz, chair of the Bexley Community Foundation. "We are appreciative of the investment that the CCS will be making in this location."

Kessler admitted that the announcement was discouraging to those who have worked to obtain it for the Bexley community.

"While I think that in balance this is good news, it's also discouraging to those who spent a lot of time and effort in exploring this possibility for Bexley recreational uses," he said. "(They) all have expressed interest in the possibilities this site represented for more recreational space in close proximity to Bexley. I'm hopeful that collaborative opportunities will open up with Africentric."

Meanwhile, Africentric will be leaving the German Village community.

Shiloh Todorov, director of the German Village Society, said it's "sad to see a friend and neighbor go. The German Village Society welcomed Africentric when it opened the program in the old Mohawk Middle School. Over the years, we've contributed to their Boosters Club, collaborated on the I-70/71 project, and felt a lot of pride at all of the basketball hardware the Nubians rack up.

"Having a program that has enjoyed such success as a next-door neighbor has been good for our community, and we will be sad to see them relocate."

The new Africentric Alternative School, which will house students in kindergarten through 12th grade, is expected to open its doors in 2015, district spokesman Jeff Warner said.

The district had planned to replace the building at 300 E. Livingston Ave., but now will build on the 52-acre Woodland Meadows site. The new building will be more conducive to housing students of all ages and will offer amenities, such as air conditioning, that are not available on the current site, Warner said.

The city of Columbus will give the district the Woodland Meadows land in exchange for Reeb Elementary School and its property at 280 Reeb Ave., Warner said. The district plans to sell the 22-acre Africentric site, he said.