Representatives from Worthington Schools and National Church Residences are looking at developing a portion of the former Harding Hospital site owned by the I Am Boundless Inc. nonprofit organization.
Jodi Bopp, vice president of advancement for the nonprofit, said all of the parties have agreed to start negotiating.
"We are just in the very beginning stages," she said.
Bopp said the company determined the site at 445 E. Dublin-Granville Road was too large for its needs. I Am Boundless Inc., which is based in Franklin County, focuses on care for adults and children with behavioral-health challenges and developmental disabilities.
"We did a master-planning process and we determined we needed a partner for about half of the property we currently own," Bopp said. "It's 44 acres, and we don't need all 44 acres. We need somewhere between 22 and 23."
She said in late spring, the nonprofit issued a request for proposals for another organization to share the campus where Proprietors Road ends south of Dublin-Granville Road.
She said the nonprofit's officials wanted to find partners that are also in the "business of serving people.
"At the time, we didn't realize it would be Worthington Schools and NCR," she said.
She said no details about the development or the acreage it might take are available. However, she said all the partners understand that Rush Run, a watershed that runs into the Olentangy River and goes through the property, will not be developed.
"That is the one piece all of the partners know, that (proposals) will retain the green space," she said.
Bopp said it is not clear what construction may need to be done at the site, but did say the property was never designed for its current use.
Trent Bowers, superintendent of Worthington Schools, said the school board voted Sept. 23 to allow negotiations to begin.
"Before any deal is final, details will be presented to the Board of Education and the board will need to vote in public session to accept a deal. If negotiations are successful, I would expect this to happen sometime in the next 12 months," he said.
He said there would be "significant" public notice before any vote occurs.
"This is but one step forward on a long journey, but we've decided to move forward with this opportunity," he said.
George Tabit, vice president of senior housing development for National Church Residences, said the company was approached in March by I Am Boundless Inc. to see if it were interested in the site.
He said negotiations have started but there are no plans for the property beyond some kind of senior-housing project. One possibility, he said, might be what he called an "intergenerational campus."
"I think it could be a unique intergenerational campus with a lot of interaction between seniors and kids and the clients that Boundless serves, and I think that's really exciting," he said.
However, he said, "There's a long way to go."
National Church Residences, headquartered in Upper Arlington, is a "not-for-profit provider of affordable senior housing options, with 340 communities around the country and Puerto Rico," according to its website.