Worthington officials are preparing for a second public meeting March 26 to discuss the United Methodist Children's Home (UMCH) site.

Worthington officials are preparing for a second public meeting March 26 to discuss the United Methodist Children's Home (UMCH) site.

A March 14 tour was designed to give staff members and others interested in the project an opportunity to look at examples of other development sites from nearby locations.

During the tour, those in the group discussed features they liked and disliked at the other sites, and city planning and building director Lee Brown said they formed a much clearer picture of what they'd to see at the UMCH site.

"The key theme that we heard was that we're a front-porch community," Brown said. "That was the one thing we heard from a lot of the different sites we went to. It seemed like a lot of people gravitated toward the ones that had front porches, and you could kind of see that people would utilize the front porch if they had furniture and stuff like that on it.

"It would kind of create that community versus when you see things hidden in your backyard," he said. "That interaction is kind of the great thing we heard throughout the tour."

Brown said many people on the tour hadn't seen most of the sites, and it was a good opportunity to showcase styles and strategies that they hadn't seen previously.

"I think a lot of it was opening their eyes to different streetscapes," he said. "Whether it be brick sidewalks or lighting or landscaping, or how the buildings looked and were laid out and how they looked and the product -- the wood, the windows, the brick and mortar of the buildings -- everyone really dove into looking at that."

The next step in the process will be a March 26 public meeting at the Worthington Education Center, where planners hope to clarify the project even more and to update the land-use plan as necessary.

"If you look at the current land-use plan, it kind of spells out what should happen on the site in the future," Brown said. "But with this update, it's going to kind of give it a little more. Everything we've been hearing is kind of that mix of uses -- a single-family product, to condos, to apartments, to office and retail -- so it's kind of a live-play-and-work type atmosphere."

UMCH property time line

• Stakeholder interviews with UMCH, Worthington Alliance for Responsible Development (WARD) and Worthington business community representatives occurred in fall 2013.

• A walking tour of the UMCH Site at 1033 High St. was Oct. 5. The purpose was to gather input from the city and community and assess needs and desires. About 70 residents and staff members attended.

• The city hosted a "design charrette" (intense period of planning) Oct. 17 for about 24 representatives of various interested groups from the community in an attempt to gather input and generate ideas for an open house.

• The city held follow-up stakeholder interviews with UMCH, WARD, the Old Worthington Association (OWA) and Worthington business community representatives.

• The first public open house Dec. 4 hosted more than 150 people and laid out an overview of goals and the process, as well as background information, demographic and market conditions, and fiscal considerations.

• As of Dec. 23, the city's website has hosted an ongoing dialogue to gather public comments and questions related to the features of the site and other information.

• A consultant meeting Jan. 16 was focused on the comments from the public meeting and the next steps of the project.

• In December and January, outreach discussion occurred with "a variety of individuals" to discuss ideas and gain more input.

• Focus groups with young professionals (Jan. 22) and college or graduate school students (Feb. 11) were held to discuss the matters with a different demographic.

• Developer meetings have been occurring since October and have been used to reach out to the development community for input.

• The development tour March 14 took attendees to Harrison Park, Grandview Yard, North Bank Park, the Neighborhood Launch, Ashton Grove, Market Square and Alum Creek Park.

• After the public meeting March 26, planners hope to begin creating the draft update in April and begin the plan adoption process in May.