The Buckeye Ranch is renovating its Grove City campus and anticipates financial help from the city, in some fashion.

The Buckeye Ranch is renovating its Grove City campus and anticipates financial help from the city, in some fashion.

Nick Rees, president and CEO of the Buckeye Ranch, said the organization plans to tear down three dormitories and replace them with an intensive care center. Currently, the ranch has 88 residents, 48 of whom live in the dormitories. The other 40 residents live in another intensive care center built in 1992. The dorms were built in the late 1950s and opened in 1961, Rees said.

"They're just too old," he said. "They need to be completely replaced."

The new intensive care center, Rees said, will allow the ranch to increase its number of residents to 100 and have upgraded features, including a cafeteria and library.

"It brings a lot more dignity to the kids' care. ... It'll be safer for our kids and safer for our staff," he said. "We have a design for the project. We're out trying to drum up the money."

The total project cost is $21 million. Rees said the ranch is looking for a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement with the state and will be applying to be included on the state's next capital improvements budget. While no specific date has been mentioned, Rees said they will know by the end of the year whether the Buckeye Ranch is included.

The ranch already has an architect on board, the Springfield-based McCall Sharp Architecture, which designed a similar facility in Dayton.

If all goes according to plan and weather cooperates, Rees said they could break ground next spring, with construction probably taking two years.

On Aug. 17, Grove City Council was scheduled to vote on a resolution to award the Buckeye Ranch $100,000 for the construction, but council withdrew the resolution at the request of the ranch.

"It was very nice of them to offer it," Rees said. "There might be a way to help us better."

Rees said the ranch will be in talks with the city about financial support, including a tax abatement, closer to actual construction.

"We're very proud of our association with Grove City," Rees said. "We like being here."

City Council President Ted Berry drafted the original legislation for the grant after meeting with Rees to discuss the project.

Berry said he's in favor of reaching with the Buckeye Ranch an agreement similar to the one the city currently is negotiating with Mount Carmel Health System -- an abatement for the construction project's local payroll tax.

"We help businesses come to our community," Berry said. "The Buckeye Ranch should be no different."

He said the Buckeye Ranch, like Mount Carmel, is employing many people, investing in its property and providing a much-needed service.

"Whatever we can do to help, I'm there for them," Berry said. "They're certainly worthy."

Berry said he's always had a connection to the ranch. Two of his friends went through treatment there.

"Now, they're successful businessmen," Berry said. "(The ranch) has always been near and dear to me."

Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso said there has been some brief discussion between the city and ranch about the project.

"There's been nothing formally submitted to the city," Boso said.