New Albany, Ohio State could partner on new medical center
New Albany could be the next outpatient-services location for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
New Albany City Council on Sept. 4 was expected to consider whether to issue $9 million in bonds to build a 48,000-square-foot building at the southwest corner of Village Hall Road and Main Street.
The primary tenant would be the Wexner Medical Center, which would lease 35,000 square feet in the building for "clinical outpatient services, physicians and rehabilitation services in an effort to improve the health and lives of the community the project will serve," according to Ohio State officials.
Mayor Nancy Ferguson said the partnership with Ohio State would not be finalized and completed until all necessary agreements are negotiated and signed.
The Ohio State board of trustees on Aug. 31 approved a 20-year lease for the facility, with a provision for three lease extensions of five years each. The lease was part of the board's consent agenda, which was approved without changes, according to the Wexner Medical Center communications office.
According to the lease agreement, the lease payments and operating costs would be the responsibility of the Wexner Medical Center and be paid for by the operating revenue generated at the facility.
Lease payments and final terms have yet to be negotiated, according to the agreement.
New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said the city would issue bonds to build the facility and it would retain ownership of the building. It is anticipated that the lease payments could be used to repay the debt.
Ferguson said the medical facility could be different from others by promoting injury prevention instead of treatment. She said, as an example, a tennis player could learn how to prevent rotator cuff injuries instead of going to the doctor after experiencing the injury.
"This is a concept the whole medical community is moving toward," she said.
Ferguson said the remaining space in the building could be used by the community as a fitness center, although a recreation center would be too expensive.
"We don't have the resources yet and we're not quite big enough to afford a recreation center," she said. "But this could be a fitness center, and more than that, for testing and assistance for people wanting to improve their health."
Ferguson said the medical center would be a good fit for New Albany.
"We have an active community that is concerned about health and wellness," Ferguson said.
Ferguson cited the New Albany Walking Classic, the largest walking event of its kind that will be held Sept. 16, and the high number of cyclists from New Albany who participate in the annual Pelotonia bicycle tour to raise money for cancer research.
"That was the spark that started us thinking about whether we could develop something in our village center that would serve these needs and the needs of our residents, and attract retail to the village center," she said.
Ferguson said the project has been aided by the nonprofit organization Healthy New Albany, which has helped establish the New Albany Farmers Market and the community garden.
Meanwhile, Tom Rubey, development director for the New Albany Co., said his company will partner with the Daimler Group to build a 35,000-square-foot building at the northwest corner of Market and Main streets, next to Jeffrey Angart's dentist office.
He said the building's use would be consistent with the medical and health themes in the area, perhaps for related retail companies and restaurants. He said at least one restaurant, which he didn't name, is interested in the area.
"We're five to six miles from Easton and it's difficult to convince restaurant and retailers to be here (in the village center) when they could locate at Easton," Ferguson said.
She said the "healthy" theme in the village center could help the New Albany Co.'s search by attracting a bicycle shop or a sports apparel and equipment company.