Quality of Life

Top of the List: Here are the fastest-growing cities in Central Ohio

February 2nd, 2018

Think Central Ohio is growing like gangbusters? U.S. Census data bears out that perception.

In a comparison of 2000 Census counts and 2016 population estimates, 24 of the 25 cities in Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties have grown.

Three have more than doubled in population.

View the slideshow at Columbus Business First »

First Look: Event center for weddings, business conferences opens in New Albany

December 18th, 2017

A new event center is opening its doors in New Albany.

The Estate at New Albany, a 15,000-square-foot event venue, opened its doors for business this month at 5216 Forest Dr. The venue is the third for the Brooks family, which owns the Brookshire venue is near Lewis Center and WatersEdge Event & Conference Center in Hilliard.

“We’re already seeing a lot of interest in reserving the space,” owner John Brooks told me.

The venue features open meeting areas with a large central event room and several side areas, including two suites for a bride and groom, outdoor patios and technology for business gatherings and working events. The interior was designed by Lisa Coleman of 6 Design.

The largest room, which is 4,500 square foot, can accommodate as many as 375 guests. The 1,900 square feet of meeting rooms can seat as many as 210.

Brooks said he expects a 50-50 mix of corporate and family events. Between weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events, the two standing venues are booked well into 2019 with an increasing number of events being held during the week.

Corporate events and weddings have increased thanks to in-house catering, event planning and other services that allow for all-in-one packages. All-day weddings – ceremony, dinner and reception – and multi-day retreats for companies are doable, Brooks said.

“This used to be a spring and summer business, but it seems like people are getting married all year long anymore,” he said.

Brooks’ wife, Joy, founded the wedding planning business that eventually expanded into wedding venues. The couple’s three children and grandchildren are active in the venue management, catering and event planning operations.

The project cost Brookshire Banquet LLC about $5 million to build out, including about $900,000 to buy the land earlier this year. Westerville’s Kleingers Group was the civil engineer, Feher Architecture LLC of Columbus was the architect and Equity Construction Solutions built the venue.

By Tristan Navera
View photo gallery at Columbus Business First »

Doc steps up to plate to establish Miracle League

October 30th, 2017

For Dr. Kevin Klingele, watching a Miracle League baseball game is an opportunity to see children in a setting that lets them escape for a little while from a normal routine of doctor visits and therapy.

“You see the joy on these kids’ faces,” Klingele said.

As chief of orthopedics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Klingele said, he was introduced to the Miracle League program through the children he has treated.

After visiting Miracle Leagues in Dublin and Grove City, Klingele was motivated to bring one to New Albany, an area that makes sense for the program because of the city’s focus on wellness and its sizeable Special Olympics organization, he said.

To prepare the community for the new organization, Klingele is planning an awareness event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the New Albany High School softball field. The event will include an exhibition baseball game with team members and their buddies, followed by refreshments at Wexner Community Park.

The goal of Miracle Leagues, Klingele said, is to provide opportunities for children with physical or mental disabilities to do something they otherwise typically wouldn’t be able to do — in this case, play baseball. Each nonprofit league has a special outdoor field with a surface that can accommodate wheelchairs and children with special needs, he said. Children are teamed up with teens and young people who serve as buddies during the game.

Although some Miracle Leagues have groups for youth and adults, New Albany’s league will start with a youth league, Klingele said.

Klingele, who serves as chairman of the board for the Miracle League of New Albany, said fundraising is nearly at the halfway mark to move ahead with constructing a field there. The goal is to have the nearly $600,000 field ready for its opening pitch in fall 2018, he said.

Tom Rubey, director of development for the New Albany Co., said the baseball field would be on about 6 acres off Swickard Woods Boulevard. Rubey also serves as a member on the Miracle League of New Albany’s board.

The site originally was part of 45 acres the New Albany Co. had donated to the city, Plain Township and the New Albany-Plain Local School District, Rubey said. The area now includes a district school building, the township swimming pool and New Albany High School baseball and softball diamonds.

The open 6 acres, which is city land, sit between the school building and the pool, Rubey said.

City Manager Joe Stefanov said the city is planning to lease the land to the New Albany-Plain Local Joint Park District, which in turn would sublease to the Miracle League. City Council members would have to approve a resolution authorizing him to sign a lease agreement, Stefanov said. That resolution could be on council’s next agenda Nov. 7.

Dave Wharton, director of recreation and parks with the joint parks district and member of the Miracle League board, said the parks district could assist with custodial services at the baseball field because Wexner Pavilion is nearby.

“I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to be a part of,” Wharton said.

By Sarah Sole
From This Week Community News

City prioritizes infrastructure with Rose Run, trails, roads

January 2nd, 2017

New Albany residents can expect potential traffic delays near Dublin-Granville Road and Market and Main streets during the summer months of 2018, according to city leaders.

New Albany’s project to refashion the Rose Run creek corridor near the city’s center should take 18 to 24 months to complete, said Adrienne Joly, director of administrative services.

It is representative of multiple initiatives that, though varied in scope and covering such infrastructure as roads and leisure trails, should improve residents’ quality of life, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

More leisure trails will encourage physical activity, he said, and infrastructure development will promote business activity. The New Albany International Business Park ultimately supports residents through the income-tax revenue it generates, he said.

Rose Run corridor

City leaders should select a construction manager for the Rose Run project during the first three months of 2018 and the project should begin by late spring or early summer, Joly said.

Closure of Dublin-Granville Road from Fodor Road/Market Street to Main Street will be limited to the summer months to minimize disruption for the New Albany-Plain Local School District, she said.

Rose Run flows mostly parallel to Dublin-Granville Road through New Albany until it meets Rocky Fork Creek in the New Albany Country Club grounds, not far west of Greensward and Harlem roads.

Project details include reducing Dublin-Granville in width, although the road will remain two lanes. A 34-foot bridge and promenade will connect the district campus to the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Market Square.

Although a 5-mile bicycle-trail loop ultimately is planned, the first phase of the project will create a half-mile segment from Fodor Road to Main Street to the east, Joly said. The final version of the loop will feature a bike path and an adjoining walkway.

Also included in the project will be the addition of a children’s natural play area to Rose Run Park and the rerouting of the leisure trail near Rose Run to travel underneath the bridge.

Trails and infrastructure

City leaders plan to update the master plan for its 36 miles of leisure trails this year, Joly said. The plan has not been updated since 2006, Joly said.

New Albany City Council members have allocated $1.8 million for new leisure trails — a considerable amount above the typical allocation of $400,000, she said. The city will try to close gaps in trails for greater connectivity, she said.

As city leaders look to create better thoroughfares for recreation, they also are trying to ensure proper infrastructure is ready for new parts of the New Albany International Business Park.

With the Mink Road-state Route 161 interchange and the extension of Innovation Campus Way complete, more than 170 acres in the business park is available for commercial development, said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s community-development director.

As a $26 million Beech Road construction project begins, the land on the west side of the road will be attractive to developers because infrastructure will be in place, she said.

City leaders hope to have the first phase of utility work completed in March and the road improvements completed in August, Chrysler said. The second phase of utilities should be finished by February 2019.

The project targets Beech Road from Smith’s Mill Road south to Morse Road, Chrysler said, and it includes trails and dedicated bicycle paths.

North of the intersection with Morse Road for about 500 feet, Beech Road will be two lanes with no median, city engineer Mike Barker said. For the next 3,000 feet northbound, the road will be two lanes with a center median, he said. From there to the intersection with Smith’s Mill, Beech will be a four-lane road with a center median, he said.

The project will be funded by tax-increment-financing-district revenue from the new Facebook data-center complex; the city also received a 1 percent interest loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority.

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

Revenue that exceeds the locked-in valuation of the land is diverted from the entities that typically receive property-tax revenue, including school districts, parks districts, libraries and fire departments.

In 2017, the city created 1,000 jobs in the community in the fourth quarter alone, Chrysler said.

“It doesn’t appear that we will have any less success in 2018 than we did in 2017,” she said.

By Sarah Sole
From This Week News

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

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