OhioHealth's recent announcement of plans to build a health-care center along Refugee Road is being welcomed by Pickerington city officials, but it raises questions regarding the fate of a proposed $4-million indoor soccer complex.

OhioHealth's recent announcement of plans to build a health-care center along Refugee Road is being welcomed by Pickerington city officials, but it raises questions regarding the fate of a proposed $4-million indoor soccer complex.

On Jan. 13, OhioHealth officials confirmed they are in contract talks with three local landowners to purchase 70 acres just west of the Hill Road Plaza, which is anchored by Big Lots.

The organization also submitted requests for rezoning and conditional-use variances to the city, which would allow OhioHealth to build a health care campus on the site along Refugee Road, if the land sales are completed.

While the OhioHealth project is viewed by city officials as a landmark development for Pickerington, it could have a substantial impact on Homestead Development Co.'s previously announced plans to build an 115,230-square-foot indoor soccer complex in the city.

Last July, Homestead received the go-ahead from the city for its project. Later phases called for construction of an estimated $9-million, 65,000-square-foot office development just south of the soccer complex and a $5-million to $5.5-million, 35,000-square-foot commercial development that could house stores and restaurants fronting Refugee Road.

However, the land on which the soccer complex was to be built is part of the same site OhioHealth is now targeting.

According to a Homestead representative, the company continues to look at Pickerington for its soccer facility project.

"We basically are in contract with OhioHealth to sell them that property," said Aaron Underhill, an attorney for Homestead. "If that occurs, my clients in the meantime are looking at other sites in Pickerington.

"At this point, they haven't identified a site for the (soccer complex) project. We do have ideas, and they are in Pickerington and surrounding areas."

Pickerington development services director Joe Henderson said the city also hopes the soccer complex still can be built in Pickerington.

"The city understands that Homestead is currently looking for another site to locate their complex and we will work with them to find a suitable location," Henderson said. "It is the city's understanding that they have a few potential locations that they are potentially pursuing.

"I am hopeful that we can locate a site that meets their needs and will provide a service that I feel the community wants."

Originally, Homestead sought to build four indoor soccer fields on 16.06 acres along Refugee Road, which were owned by the Ebright family.

The company received initial rezoning approvals from Pickerington City Council in April 2010, but the project was delayed by negotiations over possible tax-increment financing plans for the extension of Windmiller Road.

Plans for a TIF were scrapped in exchange for Homestead's commitment to pay for the extension of Windmiller Drive to Stonecreek Drive, build its own private access drive to the facility and pay $137,000 in impact fees to the city. However, the project also hit a dead end when the planning and zoning commission voted 4-1 on May 10 to deny a certificate of appropriateness.

At the time, some planning commission members said they were concerned about inconsistencies between the renderings Homestead provided for the project and the actual building material samples and plans the developer presented and communicated at the meeting. Some members also said they didn't think Homestead's proposed building materials complied with zoning standards for the area.

Following an appeal by Homestead, the commission last June agreed to reconsider the project, which ultimately led to its approvals a month later.

"(Homestead) is trying to keep it in the general area," Underhill said last week about the soccer complex. "All things being considered, they'd like to see it in (Pickerington). They've come a long way with the city after working with city officials to get this done."

Henderson said city officials still believe the soccer complex would be a good addition to the city.

"(Pickerington's) Development Services Department supports the construction of the indoor soccer complex," he said. "This type of development would be a great asset for the community."

Originally, Homestead hoped to have its soccer facility open by this winter. That now appears impossible, Underhill said.

"We're not even going to be open next year, at this point," he said. "We're kind of keeping our eyes open for the right opportunity to present itself."