Tri-Village News

Nationwide to build campus at Grandview Yard

3,000 workers will move to new complex; city leaders say they have plan to address traffic worries

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A rendering shows part of the new Nationwide Insurance campus to be constructed at Grandview Yard. The campus will house at least 3,000 Nationwide employees, doubling the number of jobs in the city.

Seven years ago, when Nationwide Realty Investors unveiled its plans for Grandview Yard, the developer predicted the project would bring up to 5,000 new jobs to the community.

With the announcement last week of the next phase of the development -- a new corporate campus for Nationwide Insurance that will bring at least 3,000 employees to the Yard -- the ultimate vision is taking shape.

Nationwide Insurance plans to move 3,600 of its employees out of Westerville and Dublin. Most will be relocated to the new Yard campus, with the remaining 600 moving to the company's downtown offices.

"Tonight we know and have much greater certainty about where we're going and that we will be able to accomplish the high-level goals we had even before we bought our first property," NRI President Brian Ellis said Monday, June 30, during a special meeting of Grandview Heights City Council.

Ellis presented an overview of what's in store for the next phase of the Yard.

Along with Nationwide Insurance's campus, the next phase will include a hotel and a 13,000-square-foot conference center.

The corporate campus will consist of three interconnected four-story buildings with more than 500,000 square feet of space, Ellis said.

The hub of the complex will be an H-shaped building with about 320,000 square feet of space, including a cafeteria and fitness facility to serve Nationwide employees, he said. This building is expected to be completed in 2016.

The main building will be located on Yard Street at the terminus of the extended First Avenue. First will be extended across Northwest Boulevard and through the existing Burrell Avenue, which will be renamed, Ellis said.

First and Yard will be the "Main at Main" in Grandview Yard, he said, and First will be "the ceremonial entrance between the community and Grandview Yard."

The extended First Avenue will be pedestrian-friendly and include a bike path, ending at a new 2.5-acre public park with a plaza suitable for special events and activities, Ellis said.

The second I-shaped building will be next to the main structure and have about 160,000 square feet of space, he said. It is expected to be completed in 2017.

A third building will be located across the street and should open in 2018, Ellis said. The size of that building is still to be determined.

The 3,000 employees Nationwide Insurance will bring to Grandview will essentially double the number of jobs in the city.

Three parking garages will serve Nationwide Insurance's complex. The first two will have about 2,500 total parking spaces; the parking capacity of the third structure is still to be determined, he said.

The garages will serve commercial development along Yard Street as well as Nationwide's employees, Ellis said.

The new hotel and conference center will be built in the southeast corner of the development near Goodale Boulevard and the Hofbrauhaus brewery and restaurant, which is now under construction and slated to open in the fall.

The hotel will have 135 rooms and is expected to generate $280,000 in annual bed-tax revenue, Ellis said. The conference center will have ballroom seating for 300 and will house offices for the Destination Grandview visitors and convention bureau.

Both the hotel and conference center are expected to open in 2016, he said.

More than 100 residents attended this week's meeting, many expressing concern about the danger that the number of Nationwide employees driving on First Avenue to work will pose to Stevenson Elementary School students crossing the street.

The city has been working with the school district on a plan to "get the kids off First Avenue," Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

School traffic will be rerouted from eastbound First Avenue to Parkway Drive, then onto Oxley Road. Oxley Road will be the main entrance to the school and the entrance on First Avenue will be closed.

Council President Anthony Panzera said council's safety committee will review the traffic issues.

Other residents were concerned that the six pieces of legislation allowing the next phase to proceed would all be passed as emergency measures. As emergency measures, the legislation would bypass the normal 30-day waiting period and instead become effective immediately upon passage and approval by the mayor.

Former council president Steve Reynolds said that as emergency measures, the legislation could not be challenged with a referendum.

Panzera said the overall plan for Grandview Yard remains the same as it was five years ago when a number of public meetings were held and residents had the chance to seek a referendum.

Allowing for the possibility of a referendum now would create "a nuisance or delay" that might cost money, he said.

The legislation will be given at least two more readings and the public will have more chances to express their views at upcoming council meetings and when the planning commission meets to address issues relating to the next phase, Panzera said.

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