The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging is settling into new digs on the South Side.

The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging is settling into new digs on the South Side.

The organization, which provides packages of services to people so they can age in their homes, spent last week moving from downtown to the old Bob Evans headquarters at 3776 S. High St.

Cindy Farson, executive director of the agency, said the location -- with 80,000 square feet -- is nearly 30,000 square feet bigger than the two offices downtown.

"Our agency has grown quite a bit the last five years," Farson said.

The agency has gone from serving 5,000 clients to 8,000 throughout eight counties. Factoring in grant management for home meals, transportation and adult day care, the organization is serving an additional 20,000.

The new, three-level building, which cost $3.9 million to purchase and renovate, provides space for 260 employees. It's about a 10-minute drive from downtown.

"What we wanted was to be accessible on a bus line, easy to explain," Farson said.

The new setup offers many conveniences to staff, such as easy access to Interstate 270 and surface-level parking, which is much more efficient for the case managers, for example, who spend most of their time in the field.

Other benefits include a workout facility, yoga room, several fireplaces, a number of boardrooms and a training facility that can accommodate more than 200 people.

"We were crunched in," Farson said of the former offices at 174 E. Long St. The city of Columbus, COAAA's landlord, has sold that land to a developer. Bob Evans, meanwhile, has moved its corporate offices to New Albany.

Julia Nack is director of the volunteer-guardian program at the agency, which puts people in touch with seniors who live in nursing homes and don't have families.

Squeezed for space downtown, Nack could no longer train volunteers there. Instead, she moved the training to the city's building-services facility on the North Side.

"This is going to be a whole lot better," Nack said.

The aging population is on the minds of several local organizations these days, including the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Katie White, the Age-Friendly Community coordinator for the Mid-Ohio regional Planning Commission, said central Ohio's population of those 65 and older is expected to double over 30 years.

"This demographic shift is something a lot of city -- and regional -- leaders are thinking about," White said.

"The Age-Friendly initiative aims to get ahead of this population growth and prepare our region for success."

For more information on COAAA, call 614-645-7250 or visit coaaa.org.