OhioHealth has withdrawn a plan to build a medical facility on a portion of the United Methodist Children’s Home property in Worthington.

On March 31, the Daimler Group, acting on behalf of the health-care company, withdrew a rezoning request to build a 60,000-square-foot building that would have included an emergency room, primary-care offices and imaging and other medical services at 1033 N. High St.

The project would have been at the southwest corner of High Street and Larrimer Avenue and was expected to generate more than 100 jobs, according to the proposal on worthington.org.

A previous rezoning summary listed the proposed OhioHealth site at 3.4 acres. The UMCH still owns 37 acres and two parcels at the High Street address, according to the Franklin County auditor’s website.

“Over the years, OhioHealth has had a keen interest in establishing a location in Worthington to provide accessible health care to those who live and work in the community,” Roland Tokarski, OhioHealth’s vice president of construction, real estate and facilities, said in a prepared statement. “During this time, we have pursued a variety of different locations, the most recent being at the corner of High Street and Larrimer Avenue.

“After a thorough diligence effort, we will not be moving forward with this specific location. We will be pursuing an alternative in the community and look forward to moving a project forward in the future.

No timeline was presented by Tokarski. Daimler referred all questions to OhioHealth.

The UMCH property has been the subject of speculation since a residential facility for troubled youth closed there in December 2010 and has been vacant ever since.

“This is a very important property for our community, and we will continue to work with the property owner and will be looking forward to any future proposals that will come related to the site,” said Worthington spokesperson Anne Brown. “We’re also in the process of gathering input from the community related to visioning for Worthington – and it’s not all about this site or related to individual properties – but we’re looking to the community for input about what they’d like to see for Worthington’s future.”

UMCH site background

OhioHealth had announced plans in 2016 to build a similar, 20,000-square-foot facility in Worthington but tabled the request at the Feb. 9, 2017, Worthington Architectural Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission meeting, according to city documents from February.

At the time, OhioHealth officials said they would continue with revisions and seek review at a later date, the documents said.

In addition, Columbus developer Lifestyle Communities floated plans for the site in 2015 that included offices, apartments, small ranch houses and single-family houses, but negative reactions from residents helped deter the company from pursuing it.

In 2018, Worthington announced via the city website there was “ongoing dialogue taking place to determine the future” of the site. The conversations reportedly involved Yaromir Steiner, the CEO of Steiner + Associates known for his work developing Easton Town Center, the owners of the former children’s home and Lifestyle Communities.

Last October, a local group presented petitions signed by 1,000 residents asking the city to buy the property to develop into a park.

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