Quality of Life

City could have second events center by fall

December 30th, 2016

New Albany could get a second events center.

The owners of Brookshire events venues in Delaware and Hilliard want to bring a 14,000-square-foot venue for weddings and social and corporate events to Forest Drive.

New Albany’s planning commission approved the final development plan for the project Dec. 19.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and the facility would open in the fall, said Brookshire partner John Brooks.

New Albany would be the third venue for the company, which operates the Brookshire wedding venue in Delaware and Water’s Edge in Hilliard, which specializes in corporate events.

Brooks said the New Albany facility, a $4.5 million investment, would sit on 5 acres and be designed to hold both wedding receptions and corporate and social events. Catering would be handled in-house.

Brooks said his business had looked the past two years for a third location in central Ohio, specifically northeast of Columbus. New Albany offered new businesses, as well as a growing population, he said, and Brookshire officials saw a “real need” for another private events venue.

“We were really drawn to the sense of community,” he said.

One of the reasons Brookshire executives decided to locate in New Albany, Brooks said, was because they anticipated an events center would be able to host an even mix of weddings and social and corporate events.

Although Brooks didn’t have a figure for the number of jobs a new venue would include, he said the Brookshire company employs more than 65 employees, and he expects a New Albany facility to “greatly enhance those numbers.”

Tom Rubey, the New Albany Co.’s director of development,said the events center would be on the northeast corner of Forest Drive. He said a real need exists for an events center because of the number of employees in the park.

City spokesman Scott McAfee said about 14,000 employees work in the business park in New Albany.

The area near the proposed events center includes the New Albany Ballet Company, COTA Park & Ride, the Courtyard and Hampton Inn & Suites hotels and AcademyOne Childcare & Preschool, uses that are complementary to an events center, he said.

“I think it’s a really logical fit,” Rubey said.

New Albany’s only events center in operation is Noah’s on East Main Street. The facility opened in the fall.

 

By Sarah Sole
From This Week News

New Albany named top suburb in the nation

October 24th, 2015

New Albany is the best suburb in America — or at least Business Insider, a business-focused website, has put the Columbus suburb on top of its annual list of the “Best 50 Suburbs in America.”

“It speaks to the strength and beauty of our community,” said New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee.

Business Insider cites the 21-minute commute to Columbus, good schools, low crime, recreational and cultural activities, housing affordability and homeownership rates for the ranking.

Four other Columbus suburbs also made the list — Powell, No. 12; Dublin, No. 16; Upper Arlington, No. 26; and Bexley, No. 35.

“It really goes to show how great a place the Columbus region is to live and to work,” McAfee said. “The really interesting thing is that if you look at these five communities, we’re all different.”

In addition to the schools, 30 miles of walking trails and low crime rate, he said many people don’t realize what a job generator the suburb is, with 13,000 people working in a city with fewer than 9,000 residents.

“We’re an aspiration community,” McAfee said. “What’s great personally about working for the city is that the city’s appointed and elected officials are trying to find ways to make things better.”

Things that help New Albany stand out include the presence of Abercrombie & Fitch’s headquarters, a major Discover Card operation and the planned Amazon data center, said Cherie Nelson, executive director of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s always s been a great place to live, and now it’s a great place to work,’’ she said.

Business Insider looked at data on nearly 300 suburbs, focusing on cities with populations of between 5,000 and 100,000 people within about 25 miles of the nearest metro area.

“Our list was dominated by the Midwest, or more specifically, by Ohio suburbs,” the website says. “This is likely due to several factors, most notably a reasonable cost of living.”

Besides the five Columbus suburbs, two Cincinnati suburbs and an Akron suburb made the list.

“It says a lot about the Midwest with great communities and great suburbs people want to move to,” said Megan Canavan, spokeswoman for No. 12 Powell.

By Mark Williams
The Columbus Dispatch

New venue for events expected to open next year

July 14th, 2015

New Albany residents and community organizations have both lacked a major event center to rent since Winding Hollow Golf and Events Center closed in January.

That could change by 2016 if Noah’s Event Venue opens as planned next summer.

“Our team did extensive research prior to selecting the location for Noah’s of New Albany based both on demographics in the area, as well as the need for event space,” said Kirsten Mussi, hiring director for Noah’s.

Mussi said the company has 29 venues in the country and the New Albany location would be the second in Ohio. The other is in Mentor, northeast of Cleveland.

“We feel that now more than ever there is a need for an accessible, beautiful and versatile venue in New Albany,” she said. “Noah’s isn’t just a wedding venue and we don’t cater exclusively to business so we believe that the community will welcome a venue that is both beautiful and affordable.”

Noah’s on Aug. 10 received a certificate of appropriateness from the New Albany Architectural Review Board for a one-story, 8,700-square-foot building.

It will be built on 1.3 acres near Johnstown Road, between the proposed Granger Senior living development south of the Plain Township fire station and Second Street.

The board voted 6-0, with E.J. Thomas absent, in favor of the application.

New Albany planner Stephen Mayer said the ARB approved the plan with the condition that the building must look like it is two stories tall, as required by the city’s Urban Center Code, and it needs to be no more than 20 feet from Johnstown Road.

It will have brick and stone on all four sides, built in mainly Georgian revival-style architecture, according to the ARB staff report.

Johnstown Road in front of the development would include on-street, parallel parking spaces, 6-foot-wide sidewalks and street trees, the report said.

The building would have 88 parking spaces and the main entrance would be off Johnstown Road via the extension of Miller Avenue, the report said.

Noah’s and a future tenant to the north would share a parking lot.

“The parking lot will be expanded in the future when the neighboring property is developed,” Mayer said.

Mussi said construction should begin in October and the venue would begin accepting reservations in the summer of 2016.

“New Albany is a prosperous area for business and we are excited to provide an affordable event space option for both large and small businesses in New Albany,” Mussi said. “But Noah’s is also built to host baby showers, birthday parties, proms, charity events, retirement parties and other family events.

“Noah’s is a real event venue for real people. There is a need for affordable and beautiful event space in New Albany and we are excited to meet that need.”

Groups such as the New Albany Women’s Network have been scheduling activities outside of New Albany since Winding Hollow closed.

The New Albany Women’s Network’s 16th annual fashion show is Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Jefferson Country Club, 7271 Jefferson Meadow Drive in Blacklick.

By Lori Wince
This Week Community News

Methodist ElderCare plans $35M senior campus near New Albany

April 17th, 2015

Methodist ElderCare Services hopes to break ground this summer on a $35 million first phase of Wesley Woods, the third retirement community for the organization and its first new campus in 17 years.

Columbus-based Methodist ElderCare has a letter of intent to buy 38 undeveloped acres at the southeast corner of Dublin-Granville and Hamilton roads in Columbus. It will make the purchase from New Albany Co.

The first phase of construction would include eight villa-style residences, a 10-unit hospice center set in the woods and a three-story building with assisted living, independent apartments, a unit for those with memory loss and a one-story nursing home wing.

The goal is to open in late 2017, and future phases could add up to 24 villas.

“We’re a good fit with New Albany – it’s a first-class place,” CEO Margaret Carmany told Columbus Business First. “We were looking everywhere, had done market studies. This was the strongest market available in our opinion … particularly for younger seniors looking for luxury.”

Fitting into Wesley network
The 45-year-old nonprofit organization is working with Akron-based First Merit Bank on a $35 million issue of bank-backed tax-exempt bonds; the financing could include other banks. Besides the borrowing, a lot must happen before breaking ground, including site engineering and building permits from the city and Ohio Department of Health clearance to open a nursing home.

Then there was the matter of endangered bats: Trees on the site had to be removed so the bats would seek different nesting sites this spring.

Westerville-based Corna Kokosing Construction Co. is lead contractor. The designer is Columbus-based Ph7 Architects, a specialist in senior housing.

An affiliate of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, Methodist ElderCare opened Wesley Glen Retirement Community in Clintonville in 1969 and built Wesley Ridge in Reynoldsburg in 1998 with independent apartments, adding assisted living capabilities three years later. It also operates a hospice and home health service.

The organization recorded a small surplus on $37 million in revenue last year, Carmany said.

Both Wesley communities have expanded, including a nursing home added at Wesley Ridge and pool and wellness center that opened at Wesley Glen in 2012. The $35 million bond issue will include $3.5 million to add a wellness center at the Reynoldsburg campus this year; Wesley Woods eventually would add one, she said.

Senior living wave
The expansion comes amid a burst of retirement construction after a long lull during the recession:
Michigan-based Granger Group is going through permitting with New Albany for a $35 million, 15-acre campus with independent living villas and assisted living residences at 227 E. Main St.

Upper Arlington-based National Church Residences is planning a Westerville community and also is considering Worthington.

Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services is adding a second luxury apartment high-rise for seniors at its Westminster-Thurber campus on the edge of downtown Columbus.

Friendship Village of Dublin recently added villas and is adding apartments in an upcoming expansion.

“Continuing care retirement communities are the future for senior living,” Carmany said. “People like to move in before they need the continuum of care, but they want to know (it) will be there if they need it.

“The boomer population is starting to retire and retirement communities are different than they used to be.”

Entry fees and rents are expected to be enough to repay the bonds, Carmany said, and won’t affect the budgets of Wesley Glen or Wesley Ridge.

“It’s a good move. It’s a good long-term strategy,” she said. “We’re in a sound financial position or we wouldn’t be doing it.”

By Carrie Ghose
Columbus Business First

SmartRide part of plan to add amenities

September 16th, 2014

The new COTA park-and-ride facility on Forest Drive is one component of SmartRide New Albany, a new initiative which includes shuttle service to and from companies in area business parks.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority’s park-and-ride facility and SmartRide New Albany shuttle service to New Albany’s business parks have been up and running since Sept. 2.

COTA is running six buses from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. from downtown Columbus and the Easton transit center to the park-and-ride facility on Forest Drive.

Joseph Stefanov, New Albany’s city manager, said the buses not only are bringing workers into the city, but they also are transporting New Albany residents to other places.

The shuttles, meanwhile, are meant to maximize transportation options for local employees.

New Albany is paying PSI of Columbus $140,000 through the end of 2014 to operate three SmartRide shuttles to and from the business parks.

The contract with PSI runs through the end of 2015 but the annual payment could change if the city decided to purchase its own shuttles, for example.

The shuttle service is free with a paid COTA fare, which is $2.75 one way or $5.50 for two rides, if paid in advance. Monthly unlimited COTA trips are $85 for adults.

The shuttles operate from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.

Westbound shuttles follow Walton Parkway and New Albany Road, with stops at Aetna and iQor, Discover Financial Services, CVG, the Water’s Edge campus, the New Albany Signature office building and Tween Brands.

Shuttles running east follow Smith’s Mill Road, with stops at the Mount Carmel New Albany Surgical Hospital, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bob Evans headquarters and to several businesses in what is now known as the New Albany International Personal Care and Beauty Campus: the Knowlton Development Corp., Sonoco Plastics, Axium Plastics, Vee Pak and Accel.

Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s community-development director, said the name was changed to include the word international after city officials realized many companies are exporting items, others have their international headquarters in New Albany and many foreign companies have a regional headquarters or the only United States location on the campus.

“It seemed OK to market ours as a place where international businesses could locate,” Chrysler said.

In addition, Forest Drive and Woodcrest Way, both east of Johnstown Road in New Albany, have other new additions in the works, including the city’s second hotel, a Hampton Inn, being built north of the Courtyard by Marriott on Woodcrest Way.

Stefanov said the Hampton Inn could be open in 2015.

The planning commission was expected Sept. 14 to review plans for a Turkey Hill gas station at the southeast corner of Johnstown Road and Woodcrest Way. Richard Roggenkamp, vice president of First Intercontinental Realty Corp., said the store will have 10 gasoline pumps and a car wash on two acres.

Chrysler said the land east of Johnstown Road was identified in the 2006 version of the city’s strategic plan as a key part of the business parks.

Stefanov said the New Albany Road East corridor developed first because it was close to many residential areas.

He said development of eastern New Albany might have been delayed by the recession but many businesses have located in the International Personal Care and Beauty Campus in the past few years.

Chrysler said businesses require retail amenities for their employees but there has to be a certain number of employees to frequent retail sites before businesses want to build.

She said the city has those employees now. An estimated 13,000 people will be working in the business parks by the end of 2014 and 14,000 by the end of 2015.

The city’s calculations include campuses on the east and west sides of the city, north of state Route 161, and State Farm Insurance and the EMH&T engineering company, both of which are in Columbus on New Albany Road East.

She said the latter two businesses were included because city officials consider them part of a business region that the city shares with Columbus.

New Albany thriving, as Wexner and Kessler foresaw

February 16th, 2014

When he explains how he and Leslie H. Wexner developed the fields of New Albany into a growing city filled with million-dollar homes and a vast business park, Jack Kessler makes it sounds simple.

“Back then, Les and I lived in Bexley,” Kessler said of the mid-1980s. “And Les said, ‘I need to build a home in the country.’ ”

The power couple — Wexner is the founder of L Brands, Kessler is a developer who joined Wexner to form the New Albany Co. — began spending their weekends driving the perimeter of Columbus, scouting locations. Muirfield looked promising; so did Gahanna.

“Les said, ‘Gahanna is great, but we can’t do much to change it. It’s already built. New Albany, we can change,’ ” Kessler said.

They have indeed changed New Albany, turning it into a Shangri-La for the wealthy and a home for scores of businesses.

And now, say Kessler and William Ebbing, president of the New Albany Co., it’s time for the next phase of the project: an expansion of the city’s center. The goal is more restaurants and retail, and to better connect the heart of the city to the nearby homes and business park.

“The core is critical to our future, to further the economic development of the business park,” Ebbing said. “How do we attract the young professionals and take the business park to the next level?”

Building an urbanlike core in a suburban setting is the goal of several communities in central Ohio and beyond. Dublin’s mixed-use Bridge Street Project is another example.

These are called “edge cities” and are becoming more common, said Bernadette Hanlon, a professor of urban planning at Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. “There’s this sense, this desire to create more walkable spaces out in the suburbs,” she said.

While New Albany is not unique in this goal, “In terms of privatization, it is pretty unique,” Hanlon said. There aren’t too many other communities created by two men.

Photo Credit: The Columbus Dispatch

New projects

New projects planned in New Albany at or near the intersection of Market and Main streets include:

• The $13 million Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, a 55,000-square-foot hub for health and wellness programs. The city is building it in partnership with Healthy New Albany, Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

• The $6 million Market & Main building, a 27,000-square-foot office building that will include a restaurant and retail tenants on the first floor. It is a joint venture of the New Albany Co. and the Daimler Group, another local developer.

• Strait’s Farm, a 51-home, $24 million residential development designed for homeowners looking to downsize and be closer to the city center. M/I Homes will develop the project on land purchased from the New Albany Co.

• A $3 million roundabout at Market and Main streets, designed to spur commercial growth.

• A $45 million school-expansion project.

All five projects are under construction and are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“Infrastructure development in the core is so important,” said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s director of community development. “We’ve spent $8 million so far, and counting.”

These improvements will come too late for the Johnson’s Real Ice Cream shop on Market Street. The franchisee in the Market Square complex closed the shop about a year ago, said Matt Wilcoxon, vice president of sales of the Bexley-based company.

“The traffic pattern wasn’t enough,” Wilcoxon said. “I always felt there weren’t enough draws, other than the Starbucks and Rusty Bucket (in Market Square), to get people there. … If they get more food-based shops and restaurants in, that will make it a destination.”

The new projects are designed to develop “critical mass,” said Courtney Orr, executive director of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce. “What’s special here is this is a growing community.”

New Albany grows

Wexner and Kessler formed the New Albany Co. in 1986 and began buying large lots of land for a project initially dubbed Wexley.

The New Albany Co. purchased more than 300 lots, Kessler said, dividing several into 1,800 smaller parcels for homes. About 1,400 Georgian-styled homes that have met specific design requirements have been built to date.

Wexner and Kessler built their own homes in New Albany.

“We started selling lots to our friends, and we identified people we thought were leaders,” Kessler said. “We got Bobby Rahal and John G. McCoy to live here.”

Rahal is a past Indianapolis 500 winner, and McCoy was the CEO of the former Banc One Corp., now part of JPMorgan Chase. Rahal’s home was built in 1995 and recently sold for $2.25 million.

“Then, we had to fix the school system,” Kessler said. “Then we were worried about taxes, so we started a business park.” They also built a golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, as well as a country club and an arts center.

The success of the company’s New Albany Business Park has fueled the city’s continued growth.

The business park generated $460 in tax revenues in 1997, the year it opened. The 2013 total was $11.6 million, money that is used in part to pay for the city’s schools and infrastructure improvements.

The 3,000-acre park in Franklin and Licking counties is home to companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Discover, Bob Evans Farms and Accel. There are 12,000 employees, Chrysler said, adding that 3,000 acres remain available for development.

The Beauty & Personal Care Campus on the eastern edge of the business park has been the biggest addition in recent years. Beauty and health-care products are manufactured, packaged and shipped from the 1.4 million-square-foot facility, which includes about 10 companies and 1,500 employees.

“We very much tout ourselves as a community for entrepreneurs started by an entrepreneur,” Chrysler said of Wexner.

The city has attracted successful entrepreneurs and executives.

“New Albany is way above both local and national (income) averages,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of the local economics consulting firm Regionomics.

The national and Franklin County median household incomes are $50,700 and $53,046 respectively, he said, according to statistics compiled from the American Community Survey. The New Albany median income is $161,314.

New Albany seems poised for growth. In addition to the additional acreage in its business park, the New Albany Co. has about 400 empty lots available for homes.

These homes will be expensive. The median sales price of a New Albany home in 2013 was $459,500, the highest in the area.

“Because of the land costs and the architectural requirements, you can’t build one for under $400,000,” Kessler said.

The New Albany Co. owns an additional 40 undeveloped acres in the city center that Ebbing said will “be developed in a mixed-use way, with more of a focus on restaurants and medical services and other retail opportunities.”

The success and continued growth of New Albany is due in large part to the vision and entrepreneurial spirit of its founders, he said.

“Les is a visionary, and his image of what this community should be has allowed us to get here,” Ebbing said.

By Steve Wartenberg, The Columbus Dispatch

New Albany named #1 suburb in Greater Columbus

May 13th, 2013

Dear Neighbors:
Spring is such a beautiful time in New Albany and I hope you’re taking time to enjoy it. I also hope you’ve had an opportunity to see the positive publicity recently about our community. Columbus Monthly named New Albany the #1 suburb in Greater Columbus and featured us on the cover of the May issue. I am biased in believing New Albany is uniquely wonderful but it’s nice to know others feel the same.

New Albany enjoys so much momentum right now. I would like to share with you just a handful of key projects underway or about to begin.

Center for Community Health
The City of New Albany, in collaboration with The Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will break ground on a 50,000+ square feet community health destination on Main Street, just south of the Post Office. This facility, which will provide residents with P4 Medicine (Personalized, Predictive, Preventive & Participatory), is an outgrowth of all the great work being led by Healthy New Albany and Dr. Phil Heit and his army of volunteers that have developed New Albany’s Farmers Market, community garden, lectures and the New Albany Walking Classic. We believe the amenities this facility will bring will transform New Albany and make us a national model for health communities.

Empty Nester Neighborhood
For some time now, we have heard from residents the need for a neighborhood to accommodate empty-nesters looking to downsize. I am pleased to report that Showcase Homes will begin development soon of a new country club neighborhood at the corner of Ackerly and Reynoldsburg-New Albany Roads. It will feature 51 homes at an average price of $420,000 with first floor master bedrooms. An association will maintain the common areas. This exciting neighborhood will be within walking distance to the new retail district, Center for Community Health, the library and The McCoy Center for the Arts.

Highgrove
An exceptional new neighborhood of homes adjacent to The Club and featuring beautiful vistas of the west nine, Highgrove continues to attract interest among buyers looking for a private yet connected lifestyle. Several homes are under construction with the first residents scheduled to move in at the end of the summer. If you’d like to tour Highgrove or other available home sites and residences. New Albany Realty is hosting a Spring Tour of Homes on Sunday, May 19 from 1-4pm.

Market and Main Building
A 30,000 square feet retail, restaurant and office building at Market and Main Streets will begin construction about the same time as the Center for Community Health. Mellow Mushroom was recently announced as the first restaurant in the building. We expect it to be a popular destination for its eclectic pizza and lively environment. More announcements are forthcoming on retail and office development in the historic Village Center District.

New Albany Business Park
Just 15 years ago the Business Park did not exist and today there are 12,000 employees working in the park, generating tax revenues that will assist in sustaining quality city services, roads, schools, parks and other amenities. City leaders have welcomed many new businesses who have moved here in the past year. Among them, we look forward to welcoming Bob Evans to its new corporate headquarters this Fall.

New Albany Schools
As the 2012-13 school year draws to a close there is much progress to celebrate. Through the leadership of Superintendent April Domine, the school board, students, teachers, parents and community representatives a national benchmarking initiative was completed, a bond issue was passed, more academic and extra-curricular offerings were added and entirely through private donations a new turf field was installed.

School leaders expect to break ground in the coming weeks on a new 150,000 square feet learning facility for the district and community. The new building will be focused on student-centered learning and will most likely accommodate the district growth for grades 2-8. In addition to serving those student populations, the plan includes opportunities for students across campus to utilize a central core with STEM Labs and common space. The building is designed with flexibility in mind to allow areas of the building to be transformed for multiple purposes. Additional features include a full service gymnasium with an elevated running track, outdoor learning spaces, including green roofs that add to the environmental offerings of the district, and dedicated food service areas. The building is expected to open in Fall 2014.

Magazine: New Albany tops among local suburbs

May 6th, 2013

New Albany officials celebrated last week when the May issue of Columbus Monthly declared New Albany first among 18 central Ohio suburbs rated in the magazine.

“I don’t remember the last time we were rated, but I’ve always suspected that we would be and hoped that we would be up there, at least in the top two,” Mayor Nancy Ferguson said. “We were not surprised and are very happy to hear we are being recognized for what we’re trying to do here in New Albany.”

View the full article at This Week News.

Nationwide Children’s, OSU Wexner join New Albany medical facility

March 6th, 2013

Nationwide Children’s Hospital said yesterday that it will join Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center as tenants in New Albany’s health and wellness center.

The children’s hospital, which has provided sports medicine services to New Albany High School since 2005, plans to lease 8,500 square feet on the proposed building’s second floor, said Gil Peri, Children’s vice president of regional development.The hospital expects that 30 to 40 employees will work at the health center and serve 12,000 patients in the first year.

View the full article at The Columbus Dispatch.

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