After a long process of development and negotiations, the path is now clear for the biggest project in Powell's history.
At its Feb. 5 meeting, Powell City Council approved multiple ordinances that allow plans to move forward for a massive ambulatory-care facility operated by Ohio State University.
The facility would sit on about 30 acres at 3315 Royal Belfast Road, at the northeast corner of Home Road and Sawmill Parkway, across from Liberty High School.
That space was annexed into Powell by council's Feb. 5 vote that accompanied the approval of a final development plan; each passed 6-1, with Councilman Brendan Newcomb voting "no."
Newcomb said he wasn’t happy with the state of the final development plan, citing OSU’s statement that it would take up to six months to determine some aspects of the plan. He also said he did not see the “viability” or “economic benefit” of the use, which sparked sharp criticism from several other council members.
The outpatient facility is expected to employ up to 500 people with a payroll of up to $50 million in its first phase, followed by another 125 to 500 employees and between $9.4 million and $37.5 million in payroll during its second phase.
Mayor Jon Bennehoof said the project represents a "significant investment" from OSU, one that puts Powell in a good light.
"This project, while it's been in process for a while, is highly anticipated," he said. "It will be a great opportunity for the city. It means employment for the city, and it's a health-care facility that will be really robust. We're anxious to have this quality of care available in our community, and it will certainly spur additional opportunities: support businesses, restaurants, medical-office facilities, you name it."
Councilman Brian Lorenz agreed and said the project's green light is one of the most anticipated moves of the year.
"I think it's going to be a really great thing for the community," he said.
Though it's been a long process of review and approval that was "a little bit different" than working with a traditional developer at times, Bennehoof said the city's interactions with OSU were "terrific" throughout the process.
"They've been a pleasure to work with," he said. "They've been very responsive, and hopefully we've been as responsive to their needs and inquiries as they have to ours."
Powell leaders see the potential for far more than just the ambulatory-care center itself, and Bennehoof said the project marks a paradigm shift for the community.
"It certainly is a very important moment for the city. It's poignant and important," Bennehoof said. "The industry that this will foster will be very beneficial to the central Ohio area. The entire community is going to benefit from this opportunity.
"Powell and Liberty Township have certainly grown up a lot."
Check this story for updates.