OhioHealth's plans to build a multi-service medical campus along Refugee Road took another step forward last week after receiving rezoning approval from Pickerington City Council.

OhioHealth's plans to build a multi-service medical campus along Refugee Road took another step forward last week after receiving rezoning approval from Pickerington City Council.

Council April 17 unanimously approved the final reading of legislation to rezone approximately 60 acres just west of the Hill Road Plaza anchored by Big Lots from "residential," "community commercial" and "planned community commercial" to "suburban office" classification.

The rezoning goes into effect 30 days after council's action, at which time OhioHealth hopes to finalize the purchase of the land from current owners Lunn and Associates, Stone Creek LLC and the Ebright family.

"This allows us to start into the planning stage," said Jean Halpin, OhioHealth's vice president of health center operations.

"We're in the process now of looking at services," Halpin said. "We're very excited. The city of Pickerington has been wonderful to work with."

In approving the rezoning, council accepted OhioHealth's request to reduce the size of the site earmarked for the project from 70 acres to 60 acres.

According to Halpin, the change followed analysis by OhioHealth, which suggested the medical campus could be built on less acreage than originally planned. She said the scaled-down site won't impact the range of services OhioHealth's seeking to offer at the Pickerington campus.

Currently, she said, those could include primary care, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, physical and sleep therapy and possibly outpatient surgery.

"Initially, we looked at 70 acres," Halpin said. "When we were progressing with plans, we determined 60 acres was the right size."

By comparison, Halpin said, OhioHealth owns 40 acres in Westerville and roughly half of that land has been developed for the Westerville Medical Campus.

She also noted that Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus sits on 40 acres.

"A 60-acre lot really allows for growth," she said.

OhioHealth is a family of not-for-profit, faith-based hospitals and health care organizations that have been serving Central Ohio since 1891.

It currently has eight Central Ohio hospitals, including Grant Medical Center and Riverside Methodist Hospitals.

In January, OhioHealth senior operations officer Bob Gilbert said the organization was interested in Pickerington because Grant Medical Center, on South Grant Avenue in Columbus, currently sees approximately 1,500 new patients from the Pickerington area each year.

OhioHealth already maintains offices in Pickerington, including those which offer physical therapy and sleep services. Halpin said the organization is considering which local services might be relocated to the medical campus.

The Pickerington land purchase is pending and OhioHealth hasn't announced its projected sale price, or the estimated cost of building a facility here.

The organization has set a tentative target of spring 2013 to begin construction, with an eye on completing the project by summer 2014.
Council's approval follows the Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission's unanimous support of OhioHealth's rezoning at its Feb. 14 meeting.

At that time, the commission also unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for OhioHealth, which would allow the healthcare organization to build a variety of medical offices, up to and including a hospital.

Following the commission meeting, OhioHealth officials said a hospital was not in the initial plans for the Pickerington campus.

"If it's determined down the road that's what the community needs, then we would consider building one," said Raif Webster, OhioHealth's system director for design and construction.

"That would be down the road, and that's not what we would start with."

Once OhioHealth determines the local campus' design and range of services, it will bring development plans before the Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.

Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance said city officials are eager to see those plans and development of a state-of-the-art medical campus in Pickerington.

"(OhioHealth) has been a pleasure to work with," said Bill Vance, Pickerington city manager.

"Raif Webster and OhioHealth, welcome to Pickerington," he said.