For Worthington leaders, 2017 represents a year of continued development and improving the way residents can access that development.

For Worthington leaders, 2017 represents a year of continued development and improving the way residents can access that development.

City Council President Bonnie Michael and City Manager Matt Greeson both cited "responsible development" as the biggest theme of the upcoming year, and they have plenty of projects to back up that prioritization.

Within the next calendar year, the city's Holiday Inn will be demolished for redevelopment at 7007 N. High St., Trivium Development will finish the redevelopment of a medical complex at 350 W. Wilson Bridge Road, MK&K Realty will transform part of the CVS on three parcels in Old Worthington and National Church Residences will begin a new project at Stafford Village on Hartford Street.

In what Michael called an "economic development-driver," co-working space COhatch also will be filling out the Kilbourne Memorial Building, often known as the 752 Building.

Even long-awaited progress at the former site of the United Methodist Children's Home will be seen in 2017, as OhioHealth plans a new standalone emergency room on High Street.

"You've got developments in multiple stages," Greeson said of the variety of projects. "You've got ones that are underway and are going to open in 2017, you have ones that have had some development review but are not in construction yet ... and then ones that we know are coming, but are not even in the process yet."

The UMCH work has been a hot-button item for Worthington for years, with multiple ideas rejected by the community, including a mixed-use concept introduced in June 2015 that proposed more than 570 housing units.

Residents have reacted more positively to the OhioHealth concept, and while Greeson said incremental steps "are difficult to connect, on the whole," he's confident with city staff's ability to make a piece-meal approach cohesive, and the first part of the project is appealing.

"OhioHealth is a great company to have investing in Worthington, we're increasing our citizens' access to medical care, it's enhancing our income taxes ... and it's consistent with the zoning," he said.

But in order to access all the development, residents will need to be able to move around the city.

In 2016, Worthington secured federal funding for the Northeast Gateway project, a massive renovation of the intersection of Huntley, Worthington-Galena and Wilson Bridge roads on the northeast side of the city. The project won't be finished for years, but will see progress in 2017.

Major decisions could be made this year about the potential widening of state Route 161 west of the city, and Greeson said he's optimistic about working with the city of Columbus, the Ohio Department of Transportation and other entities on the project.

"The hope is that the collaborative effort we created results in constructive solutions instead of conflict, because I think we all acknowledge that there's a need for improvement, not only from a safety standpoint but from a congestion standpoint," he said.

For Michael and other members of council, bicycle and pedestrian mobility will be at the forefront of transportation conversations. Michael said bicycle and pedestrian accessibility with ODOT's project at U.S. Route 23 and Interstate 270 is a good example of what needs to happen in all corners of the city in the future.

"On council, (bicycle and pedestrian access) is definitely a priority," she said. "It's a sense of 'complete transportation' for people of all mobility."

City leaders have plenty of things to focus on for the next year.

Michael said she's particularly interested in improving the city's communication with residents, and feels council could be more effective with more community input.

Greeson is concerned with keeping the city's services -- from police and fire to sewers -- up to his high standards, though they aren't "sexy" projects.

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