Programming, resources and intervention for at-risk juveniles will be one step away for Whitehall families after the Buckeye Ranch opens its doors at 4653 E. Main St., expected no later than January.

Whitehall leaders made the surprise announcement of the Buckeye Ranch's move to the city Sept. 30 during a Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce event.

Same-day access for the most vulnerable is one of several services that will be available at its new East Main Street campus, said Vickie Thompson-Sandy, CEO of the Buckeye Ranch.

The Buckeye Ranch is relocating a staff of approximately 20 administrators from its residential treatment facility on Hoover Road in Grove City where the Buckeye Ranch was founded in 1961 as the Buckeye Boys Ranch.

The organization formally dropped Boys from its name in 1992 after it began providing programming for girls, said Nick Rees, development director for the Buckeye Ranch.

In all, 270 staff members will move to the Whitehall campus, including about 150 staff members from Olde Towne East, 697 E. Broad St., and the balance of staff members from the Rosemont Center in Linden, Thompson-Sandy said.

The acquisition of the Whitehall property will allow Buckeye Ranch to consolidate its operations and holdings, Rees said.

Buckeye Ranch will sell the Linden and Olde Towne East properties, Thompson-Sandy said.

The moves will reduce its number of locations from seven to five, leaving those in Cincinnati, Newark, Grove City and the Hilltop in addition to Whitehall.

The Buckeye Ranch has an annual budget of about $52 million, providing emotional-, behavioral- and mental-health services for children and adults up to age 21 who are referred by children-services agencies, juvenile courts and public school districts in 44 central and southwestern Ohio counties, Thompson-Sandy said.

From July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, the Buckeye Ranch, with a total staff about 530 people, provided services to about 5,000 children and their families, Rees said.

Those services will include, at the Whitehall campus, community-based therapy services, child-welfare and foster-care services and enrollment of new clients, Thompson-Sandy said.

The Whitehall campus generally will maintain traditional business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, she said.

Only the residential treatment center in Grove City offers overnight stays among the central Ohio campuses, Thompson-Sandy said.

The Buckeye Ranch is expected to open its new 80,000-square-foot Whitehall facility in December or January.

It purchased the property in July for $1.45 million, according to Franklin County Auditor's records. It was last used as a PNC Bank call center.

The Buckeye Ranch will invest about $500,000 to remodel the building, Rees said.

The presence of the Buckeye Ranch in Whitehall will provide the city not only with local resources but a $13.5 million payroll, Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said.

"We are delighted they chose Whitehall," said Maggard, adding the city was not aware the Buckeye Ranch had purchased the site until the organization informed the city.

Rees called Maggard and Whitehall Development Director Zach Woodruff in early September, Maggard said.

The move is the latest indication that Whitehall is a place that people desire to do business as developments such as Norton Crossing cast a mold, Maggard said.

"The addition of the Buckeye Ranch in the city of Whitehall is a strong indicator of the exciting business climate in Whitehall. Businesses want to locate to an environment where their services are appreciated and needed.

"The services of the Buckeye Ranch are advantageous to our citizens and communities around us," Maggard said. "The facility intake center will enable young people to get needed help and resources in a timely manner."

An added benefit is the additional revenue the city will receive.

"The income-tax dollars generated by the Buckeye Ranch will enable the city to provide service improvements to our residents for safety and infrastructure support," Maggard said.