Worthington News

Reported sale price: $4.5 million

Step by Step to convert Harding into autism treatment center

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Step by Step Academy plans to purchase the former Harding Hospital site to expand its autism treatment center.

State Sen. Kevin Bacon has introduced a bill to authorize the nonprofit organization to purchase the 45-acre property from Ohio State University. The reported sale price is $4.5 million.

Step by Step has leased two buildings on the land since 2007. Plans call for expanding into a former OSU residential treatment building for on-campus treatment, Worthington economic development director Jeff Harris said.

Step by Step currently has 190 full- and part-time employees. Ninety new employees could be added as a result of the expansion, increasing the current $6 million payroll by $2.8 million, Harris said.

The land would be exempt from property taxes.

OSU purchased the property from Harding Hospital in 2003, with plans to expand its mental-health services. That did not come to fruition, and an emergency-service agency at Harding later was moved to OSU's main campus.

The Harding site is seen by Worthington planners as second only to the United Methodist Children's Home site as having potential for redevelopment.

The UMCH site is for sale, and the city actively is planning for its redevelopment.

The Harding sale fulfills one of the goals outlined in the city's comprehensive plan, which calls for any new uses of the site to add to the employment base for the community.

The plan also calls for the land to be developed with "urban village residential" uses, which generally means housing that is denser than single-family neighborhoods and is near such amenities as stores and restaurants.

"Because of the size, terrain and beauty of the area, it is ripe for residential development," the plan states. "Surrounding neighborhoods see the site's potential as a park."

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