New Albany News

Ohio State medical facility

Project could include wellness center for residents


New Albany officials and local health advocates want to include wellness services for residents in the outpatient medical facility the city plans to build in partnership with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Integrated Wellness Partners (IWP).

"We want to create a centralized community wellness facility," said Phil Heit, a founder of the nonprofit Healthy New Albany organization.

Heit said the wellness facility would use "evidence-based outcomes" to research treatments for cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. The research would be conducted in a 48,000-square-foot medical facility at the southwest corner of Village Hall Road and Main Street.

The estimated cost of the facility is $9 million. If New Albany City Council were to issue bonds for construction of the facility, lease revenues from Ohio State and the village center tax-increment financing (TIF) district would help pay off the debt, according to City Manager Joseph Stefanov.

A TIF is an economic development mechanism available to local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Department of Development. A TIF works by locking in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation was approved.

New Albany City Council on Sept. 4 approved a resolution authorizing Stefanov to negotiate the lease with Ohio State, with Councilman Sloan Spaulding abstaining. Spaulding is an attorney who works for the Ohio Board of Regents, which has some regulation power over Ohio State.

City Council also heard first reading on the appropriation of $250,000 from the village center TIF fund for planning and design of the building; the second reading and potential passage is slated for Sept. 18. IWP is expected to help design the building.

In the next few months, City Council also will be asked to approve the issuance of debt to build the facility, Stefanov said.

The Ohio State board of trustees on Aug. 31 approved lease negotiations for 35,000 square feet in the facility for physicians, clinical outpatient services and rehabilitation services. Ohio State likely would lease the entire second floor and some of the first.

"We hope this will become a model for building a healthy community," said Steven Gabbe, chief executive officer of the Wexner Medical Center.

The first floor of the building would include the wellness center in space leased by Ohio State and managed by IWP.

Douglas Ribley, principal with IWP, said the wellness center would assess members' health and design a plan to prevent potential injuries and/or illnesses to which each member may be susceptible.

A diet and fitness routine could be designed to help that person live longer and be healthier, said Clay Marsh, Ohio State's senior associate vice president for health sciences research.

The building's first floor also would include two community spaces: a multipurpose "game room" for teens and a room with a kitchen that could be used for cooking demonstrations or health-related programming. The space also could include a juice bar and a support room with compressed air and water for cyclists, said Patricia McClimon, a member of Healthy New Albany.

McClimon said adjacent outdoor space could be used in several ways, such as for book clubs or play groups.

Councilman Glyde Marsh also requested a space for senior citizens' programming, which organizers said will be included in the project.