The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is poised to make history in Powell.

City Council on July 5 unanimously approved a pre-annexation agreement between the city and the university for about 30 acres at 3315 Royal Belfast Road, at the northeast corner of Home Road and Sawmill Parkway, across from Liberty High School.

The agreement is a “roadmap” for how the annexation process will go and “anticipates an (tax) incentive agreement,” although details still are being worked out, law director Gene Hollins said.

If approved, this would be the largest project in the city’s history and its largest employer.

Ohio State anticipates the site will employ 500 people and have an annual payroll of $50 million. No timetable for construction has been announced.

The site will go through the city’s planning and zoning process as part of annexation.

The zoning commission on July 11 reviewed a sketch plan from Ohio State. A sketch plan is the initial step in the development process and is not voted on; instead commissioners and residents may give feedback before more formal plans are presented.

The project includes two phases; the first of which will be the construction of a 150,000-square-foot, five-story ambulatory care center and the construction of a second, two-story building consisting of another 56,000-square feet of space.

Plans call for a 1,500-space parking lot and access off Sawmill Parkway.

In addition to the ambulatory care center, the first phase would house specialty care, diagnostic services like MRI and X-Ray and primary-care physician offices, said Aaron Underhill, an attorney representing Ohio State.

A second phase would add 216,000 square feet of space and could include a “micro hospital,” Underhill said.

“A satellite campus doesn’t do it justice,” he said.

The university is working on a similar project at Hamilton Road and state Route 161 in Columbus.

Both projects are an effort to bring the services of the main OSU campus medical center closer to home, Underhill said. 

“We’re very pleased to be coming to your community. This is not an insignificant ambulatory medical center, to put it mildly,” said Keith Myers, vice president of planning and real estate for Ohio State.

At 5 stories, this would be the tallest building in Powell and would require a zoning variance, officials said.

“This building is as complex a building as you will come across. It’s a whole series of intertwined features that make it very difficult,” Myers said. “We’ll work to articulate the façade and break it down as much as we can.”

Commission members were generally supportive of the project and its location along two, major arterial county roads.

“I think this is an excellent location for the facility. I think this is outstanding, and it’s going to improve the quality of life in this community for years to come,” said commission member Joe Jester.