New Albany officials celebrated last week when the May issue of Columbus Monthly declared New Albany first among 18 central Ohio suburbs rated in the magazine.

New Albany officials celebrated last week when the May issue of Columbus Monthly declared New Albany first among 18 central Ohio suburbs rated in the magazine.

"I don't remember the last time we were rated, but I've always suspected that we would be and hoped that we would be up there, at least in the top two," Mayor Nancy Ferguson said. "We were not surprised and are very happy to hear we are being recognized for what we're trying to do here in New Albany."

Columbus Monthly editors rated the suburbs based on "safety, housing and education data," according to the article.

Ferguson said she lived in five central Ohio communities -- Columbus, Upper Arlington, German Village, Bexley and Gahanna -- before she bought property in New Albany in 1993 and moved to the city in 1996.

"Every (community) has been a little better than the first," she said. "I really liked my time in German Village and that you can walk to different restaurants, the book store and coffee shops."

She said she has fond memories of eating bagels and reading the New York Times in Schiller Park, an atmosphere she said is developing in New Albany.

"I think that's one of the things that really appeals to me about New Albany," she said. "I think eventually we will have lots of retail you can walk to, and hang out and visit with neighbors. We have some of that going on now."

Ferguson said her Georgian-style home, her favorite style of architecture, was completed in 1996.

Though the community was much smaller then and New Albany was still a village, Ferguson said, its planning and attention to detail already was evident.

"We had the benefit of learning from other suburbs, to see what they did right and what they did wrong," she said. "We were coming a little later after them and could look at all the practices and see which ones worked and pick up on them."

Ferguson said Dublin has been successful in economic development for 30 years, providing amenities for citizens that are aided by tax revenue from its businesses.

"We learned a lot from (Dublin's success) and incorporated that and other good ideas we saw into what we're doing in New Albany," she said.

City spokesman Scott McAfee said the commitment to economic development has brought 12,000 jobs to New Albany and formed partnerships that provide further investments in the city.

"A prime example is the Core, the New Albany Center for Community Health, in conjunction with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Nationwide Children's Hospital and Healthy New Albany," McAfee said. "This project for the first time ever blends personalized medicine, exercise and community activities all in one place for us all to enjoy and has already served as a catalyst for additional development in our core village center."

The Core community health facility will be built by the Daimler Group at the southwest corner of Johnstown and Village Hall roads, adjacent to a second project by the New Albany Co. and Daimler: a two-story health-related retail building at the northwest corner of Johnstown Road and Market Street.

Ferguson said she was drawn to New Albany even though she didn't understand all of the planning in the beginning.

"New Albany really was exciting for me," she said. "I love architecture, I love planning and I appreciate the importance of planning a community and all the things that were planned for, like the school (district) campus, planned for before the community grew," she said.

McAfee said the New Albany-Plain Local School District promotes a higher level of learning and supports residents, who are the city's best asset.

"I have always found it interesting that in a community known for its architecture, iconic white horse fencing and master planning, New Albany's best attribute is its residents and business partners who freely give of their talents and resources," McAfee said. "This is evident in our community foundation, our farmers market, our community garden and in the many special events we have throughout the year, some of which attract people from across the country."