Residential

New Albany Named to 24/7 Wall Street’s 2019 Best Cities to Live List Cited in USA Today

January 7th, 2019

NEW ALBANY, OHIO – New Albany, Ohio is honored to be recognized as one of the best cities to live by USA TODAY’s 2019 Best Cities to Live List.

There are nearly 20,000 villages, towns and cities across the 50 states, and not all of them are equally conducive to the well-being of those who live there.

While quality of life is subject to a range of factors – close relationships and personal health being among the most important – the local community and environment can also have a meaningful impact.

When it comes to choosing a place to call home, everyone has their own priorities and subjective tastes. Still, there are specific attributes some communities share that are almost universally desirable: safe streets, a strong economy, affordability and a range of entertainment options, to name a few.

24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of over two dozen measures to identify the best city to live in each state. We considered all boroughs, census designated places, cities, towns and villages with at least 8,000 residents.

These cities tend to have much in common beyond the index components upon which they were ranked. For one, these communities are often within commuting distance of a major metropolitan area. This is no coincidence, as close proximity to a major city provides residents with access to more job opportunities, which in turn can help lower unemployment and improve financial security.

The best cities to live in include ones just outside of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh and Washington.

1. Valley, Alabama

• Population: 9,439
• 5 yr. population change: -0.8 percent
• Median home value: $82,900
• Median household income: $39,387

The majority of the cities on this list are relatively wealthy. Valley, Alabama, is an exception. The typical household in Valley earns just $39,387 a year, about $5,000 less than the typical Alabama household. Still, serious financial hardship is less common in Valley than in Alabama as a whole as 15.7 percent of area residents live below the poverty line, well below the 18.4 percent state poverty rate. Valley residents also benefit from a low cost of living as goods and services are about 6 percent less expensive in the city than they are nationwide on average.

Valley is a pilot city for the Alabama Communities of Excellence program, a non-profit that partners with governments, businesses, and universities to prepare participating communities for a more vibrant future.

2. Ketchikan, Alaska

• Population: 8,189
• 5 yr. population change: +2.3 percent
• Median home value: $232,500
• Median household income: $53,937

Health outcomes are an important factor in the overall quality of life in a given area. In Ketchikan, Alaska, the mortality rate of people admitted to the hospital is 12.2 per 100,000 hospital admissions within 30 days. That figure is the lowest of any major metropolitan area in the state. Ketchikan is the only metro area in Alaska with a mortality rate lower than the U.S. mortality rate of 12.9 per 100,000.

Thanks to its scenery along the southeastern coast of Alaska and proximity to the continental United States, Ketchikan is a popular tourist destination, especially on cruises. Though much of Alaska is isolated and rural, Ketchikan offers residents and visitors access to many more entertainment options than most parts of the state – which can be important during the long, dark winters. Ketchikan has more bars, restaurants, and movie theaters than almost anywhere else in the state.

3. Paradise Valley, Arizona

• Population: 13,833
• 5 yr. population change: +5.6 percent
• Median home value: $1,332,600
• Median household income: $173,487

Most houses in Paradise Valley, Arizona, are worth over $1.3 million, more than seven times the U.S. median home value. Paradise Valley residents are able to afford such expensive houses because of their relatively high incomes. The typical household in the city earns $173,487 a year, one of the highest median household incomes in the country.

Paradise Valley lives up to its name as a popular destination to relax. The town is home to several resorts and a number of golf courses. Located just north of Phoenix and Scottsdale, it is also known for its high-end dining and nightlife.

4. Batesville, Arkansas

• Population: 10,579
• 5 yr. population change: +4.5 percent
• Median home value: $120,400
• Median household income: $42,143

Batesville, Arkansas, ranks among the best U.S. cities to live largely due to its affordability and community attractions and amenities. Most homeowners in Batesville pay less than $1,000 a year in property taxes, less than half the amount the typical American homeowner pays. Overall annual housing costs typically come to about $7,500 a year, roughly $4,600 less than the median costs nationwide. Goods and services are 16 percent less expensive on average in Batesville than they are nationwide.

With roots as far back as 1804, Batesville is the second oldest city in Arkansas. The city, which avoided destruction in the Civil War, has a number of historic buildings and sites. There are attractions in the area for nearly every taste and preference, including antique stores, art galleries, an annual film festival, and the Batesville Motor Speedway.

5. Palos Verdes Estates, California

• Population: 13,582
• 5 yr. population change: +1.3 percent
• Median home value: $1,609,500
• Median household income: $200,766

Located along the Pacific Coast less than 30 miles from Los Angeles, Palos Verdes Estates is the best place in California to live. One of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, the typical household earns over $200,000 a year, more than triple the national median household income of $55,322. Crime is virtually unheard of in Palos Verdes Estates as its violent crime rate of 22 incidents per 100,000 people is a small fraction of the national rate of 383 per 100,000.

The high ranking may not come as a surprise to those familiar with it, as it is a master-planned city, designed by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted – architect of New York City’s Central Park and the Stanford University campus.

6. Frederick, Colorado

• Population: 10,791
• 5 yr. population change: +32.2 percent
• Median home value: $261,500
• Median household income: $90,321

Frederick, a small town about a half hour north of Denver, ranks as Colorado’s best city to live in. The town boasts a number of amenities that make it an attractive place to live, including a museum, a golf course, over 20 community parks, 25 skiing areas in driving distance, and over 300 sunny days a year.

Like many communities on this list, Frederick is relatively affluent and fast growing. The typical area household earns $90,321 a year, about $27,800 more than the median income across Colorado as a whole. Additionally, in the last five years, the number of people living in Frederick climbed 32.2 percent. For reference, the U.S. population grew by just 3.9 percent over the same period.

7. Darien, Connecticut

• Population: 21,519
• 5 yr. population change: +4.6 percent
• Median home value: $1,248,200
• Median household income: $208,125

Darien, Connecticut is home to one of the wealthiest and best educated populations in the country. Well over half of all households in Darien earn at least $200,000 a year and about four out of five adults in Darien have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Nationwide, fewer than one in three adults have a bachelor’s degree. A high median income is bolstered not only by high educational attainment, but also by a strong job market. Just 3.6 percent of workers in Darien were unemployed in 2017, below the 4.7 percent state and 4.4 percent national 2017 unemployment rates.

Darien is also one of the safest communities in the country. There were just 14 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017, a fraction of the 383 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide.

8. Middletown, Delaware

• Population: 20,045
• 5 yr. population change: +13.8 percent
• Median home value: $274,400
• Median household income: $87,250

Middletown ranks as the best community in Delaware to live in. The town boasts several public parks with a range of amenities, including tennis and basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, pavilions, a track, and a pool. A relatively affluent area, Middletown has a median income of $87,250, about $26,200 more than the median income in Delaware as a whole. Home values are also about 18 percent higher than the average across the state and over half of all homes in Middletown are worth over a quarter-million dollars.

Like many of the cities and towns on this list, Middletown is growing rapidly. In the last five years, Middletown’s population climbed 13.8 percent.

9. Pinecrest, Florida

• Population: 19,272
• 5 yr. population change: +5.2 percent
• Median home value: $840,900
• Median household income: $130,900

Pinecrest is by far the wealthiest place in Florida, and one of the wealthiest in the entire country. With a median household income of $130,900, most Pinecrest households earn more than double what the typical Florida household earns, which is $48,900. Partially because of the area’s relatively high income, the typical home in Pinecrest costs more than $840,000 – more than four times the median Florida home.

A Miami suburb just off Biscayne Bay, Pinecrest is also one of the best educated areas of the state. Among adults 25 and older, 61.7 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree. Statewide, just 27.9 percent of adults finished college.

10. Milton, Georgia

• Population: 36,755
• 5 yr. population change: +19.1 percent
• Median home value: $475,300
• Median household income: $109,784

A planned community incorporated in 2006, Milton is one of the most rapidly growing cities in Georgia. Now home to nearly 37,000 people, Milton’s population more than doubled since 2009 and is projected to reach 43,000 by 2030. In commuting distance of Atlanta, many Milton residents likely commute to high paying jobs in the state’s largest city. The typical household in Milton earns $109,784 a year, more than double the median income of $51,037 across the state as a whole. Similarly, Milton’s poverty rate of 5.5 percent is less than a third of the 17.8 percent statewide poverty rate.

Milton is also a safe city. There were just 23 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017, a fraction of the 383 per 100,000 national rate.

11. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

• Population: 349,597
• 5 yr. population change: +4.3 percent
• Median home value: $601,500
• Median household income: $63,361

Education can be an important factor in the health and well being of a population. In addition to being more financial stable, college graduates tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who did not obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. A high level of education helps make Urban Honolulu the best city to live in Hawaii. Among Honolulu adults, 36 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest rate in Hawaii.

Long commutes by car can have a negative effect on physical and mental health. Honolulu residents utilize alternative methods of getting to and from work. Roughly one in every eight residents takes public transportation to work, while many others walk or ride their bicycles. Altogether, 22.9 percent of commuters do not drive themselves to their jobs, over five times more than the next closest city in Hawaii.

12. Hailey, Idaho

• Population: 8,058
• 5 yr. population change: +2.6 percent
• Median home value: $266,500
• Median household income: $56,522

Hailey is situated in Idaho’s Wood River Valley in the Rocky Mountains. The city is surrounded by public land and forests where residents and visitors can hike, bike, ski, fish, and horseback ride, and is a short drive from Ketchum and Sun Valley, two resort towns.

Quality of life for residents is boosted by lower than average crime, poverty, and unemployment rates. While the median household income of $56,522 in Hailey is only about $1,000 higher than the national median income, a dollar goes further in Hailey than in much of the rest of the country. Goods and services are about 4 percent less expensive than they are nationwide on average.

13. Winnetka, Illinois

• Population: 12,437
• 5 yr. population change: +2.3 percent
• Median home value: $989,600
• Median household income: $207,857

Winnetka is a small village that sits on the shores of Lake Michigan about 15 miles north of downtown Chicago. One of the wealthiest cities in the state, the typical Winnetka household earns $207,857 a year. Winnetka residents working in Chicago have options when it comes to transit, as over one quarter of commuters use public transportation – an alternative most Americans do not have.

In the village, downtown shops were described by the Chicago Tribune in 2012 as reminiscent of the Hamptons on Long Island in New York, without the celebrities. Winnetka boasts four beaches, a boat launch, several parks, a tennis club, a golf course, an ice rink, and forest preserve areas, all open to the public.

14. Jasper, Indiana

• Population: 15,790
• 5 yr. population change: +6.6 percent
• Median home value: $148,200
• Median household income: $55,209

Jasper is one of the most affordable places to live in Indiana. The cost of living in the city is just 83.6 percent of what the typical American pays. The median household income in Jasper of $55,209 is higher than Indiana’s median of $50,433. The combination of relatively high income and low costs, as compared to the rest of the state, makes Jasper residents more able to afford homes compared to those in most other areas of Indiana. The median home price in Jasper is $148,200, compared to Indiana’s median home price of $126,500.

Jasper residents are much less likely to struggle with money than the average Indiana resident. Statewide, 15 percent of Indiana residents live in poverty. In Jasper, the poverty rate is less than half that, at 7.1 percent.

15. Le Mars, Iowa

• Population: 9,826
• 5 yr. population change: +1.0 percent
• Median home value: $139,400
• Median household income: $56,851

Le Mars, Iowa, is among the most affordable cities in the United States. Goods and services in the city cost about 15 percent less on average than they do nationwide. Housing is particularly inexpensive, with the typical household spending $8,124 a year, about $4,000 less than the average annual housing cost nationwide.

The city also has its share of attractions. Home to a Blue Bunny ice cream manufacturing plant, Le Mars churns out more ice cream from a single company than any other city, earning the nickname “The Ice Cream Capital of the World.” The city and surrounding area also boast a history museum, an art museum, a golf course, a campground, and of course, an ice cream museum.

16. McPherson, Kansas

• Population: 13,212
• 5 yr. population change: +0.0 percent
• Median home value: $135,800
• Median household income: $54,057

The median household income in McPherson, Kansas of $54,057 a year is just below the national median of $55,322. However, a dollar goes a long way in McPherson as goods and services are 14 percent less expensive than they are on average nationwide. Indeed, extreme financial hardship is relatively rare in the city. Just 7.3 percent of residents live in poverty compared to 13.3 percent of the Kansas population.

McPherson residents also have many options when it comes to entertainment and recreation. The city has a far greater than typical concentration of restaurants, fitness centers, museums, golf courses, and movie theatres.

17. Edgewood, Kentucky

• Population: 8,703
• 5 yr. population change: +0.5 percent
• Median home value: $204,300
• Median household income: $89,073

The best city to live in in Kentucky, Edgewood is both wealthy and affordable. The typical household in Edgewood earns $89,073, nearly double the $44,811 median income across the state as a whole. Additionally, goods and services are about 11 percent less expensive in Edgewood than they are nationwide on average.

Overall quality of life in Edgewood is boosted by two large public parks and an easily accessible hospital and medical care center within city limits. Located about seven miles south of Cincinnati across the Ohio River, Edgewood – like many cities on this list – is in commuting distance of a major metropolitan area.

18. Youngsville, Louisiana

• Population: 10,878
• 5 yr. population change: +41.5 percent
• Median home value: $222,300
• Median household income: $94,564

Youngsville is a relatively prosperous city in one of the poorest states in the country. The typical Youngsville household earns about $95,000 a year and just 5.5 percent of the population live in poverty. Meanwhile, the typical Louisiana household earns less than $46,000 a year and nearly one in five state residents live in poverty. A dollar also goes farther than typical in Youngsville, as goods and services are about 7 percent less expensive than they are on average nationwide.

Youngsville residents have benefitted from a 70 acre, multimillion dollar sports complex since its completion in 2014 and a recreation center that opened in 2016. The facility boasts 10 tennis courts, six soccer fields, five baseball fields, batting cages, a fishing pond, a one-mile walking path, and a playground.

19. Bath, Maine

• Population: 8,334
• 5 yr. population change: -3.6 percent
• Median home value: $164,600
• Median household income: $42,275

Bath is the best place to live in Maine. Bolstered largely by Bath Iron Works, a shipbuilding plant operated by defense giant General Dynamics, the city’s job market is relatively strong. Annual unemployment in the city, located near the mouth of the Kennebec River, stands at 3.2 percent, well below the 4.4 percent national rate. Many residents also benefit from the city’s walkability as more than one in 10 commuters in Bath walk to work, more than triple the comparable national share. The city is also relatively safe, and also has a high concentration of restaurants, fitness centers, museums, and libraries.

Despite its advantages, Bath is one of only a handful of cities on this list to be shrinking in size. Over the last five years, Bath’s population declined by 3.6 percent, even as the total U.S. population grew 3.9 percent.

20. Bowie, Maryland

• Population: 57,633
• 5 yr. population change: +5.7 percent
• Median home value: $303,900
• Median household income: $106,098

Just a short commute from Washington, D.C., Bowie, Maryland, provides easy access to high-paying jobs in and around the nation’s capital. Most households in Bowie earn more than $106,000 per year – over $30,000 higher than Maryland’s state median household income. Just a small share of Bowie residents live in poverty. Its poverty rate is just 3.3 percent, just one-third of the state’s poverty rate.

In order to qualify for these high-level jobs, many of Bowie’s residents are well-educated. Nearly half of all adults living in Bowie hold at least a college degree, as compared to 38.4 percent of Maryland residents overall.

21. Winchester, Massachusetts

• Population: 22,491
• 5 yr. population change: +6.1 percent
• Median home value: $796,500
• Median household income: $149,321

Winchester is the best-educated place in Massachusetts and one of the most highly-educated in the entire country. Nearly three-quarters of adults in the area have at least a bachelor’s degree. This college degree attainment rate is well above that of Massachusetts, which sits at 41.2 percent.

This high level of education, coupled with the fact that Winchester is just outside of Boston, can make it easier for residents to find jobs. Winchester has the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.7 percent, of anywhere in the state. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is a full percentage point higher. This high level of employment likely helps drive down the poverty rate in Winchester. Just 2.4 percent of Winchester residents live below the poverty line, the lowest share in Massachusetts.

22. East Grand Rapids, Michigan

• Population: 11,297
• 5 yr. population change: +5.2 percent
• Median home value: $303,400
• Median household income: $118,393

East Grand Rapids is one of the wealthiest cities in both Michigan and the United States. The typical area household earns over $118,000 a year, compared to the $55,322 the typical household earns nationwide. City residents also benefit from a low cost of living as goods and services are 7 percent less expensive in East Grand Rapids than they are on average nationwide.

In addition to entertainment and cultural attractions in nearby Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids has 10 parks, including a lake with a boat launch, miles of trails, playgrounds, and a baseball field.

23. New Ulm, Minnesota

• Population: 13,279
• 5 yr. population change: -1.6 percent
• Median home value: $133,100
• Median household income: $52,244

Residents of New Ulm, Minnesota, are more likely to work and be financially secure, on average, than most other Americans. The town’s poverty rate of 8.5 percent is well below the national poverty rate of 15.1 percent. Also, the town’s five-year average unemployment rate of 2.6 percent is 4.8 percentage points below the comparable nationwide rate.

These numbers are better than the comparable national figures despite the fact that New Ulm residents tend to not be especially wealthy. The town’s median household income of $52,244 a year is several thousand dollars lower than the U.S. median household income. Unlike almost all other places on this list, New Ulm’s population shrank over the past five years. During a time when the U.S. population grew 3.9 percent, New Ulm’s population dropped 1.6 percent.

24. Madison, Mississippi

• Population: 25,473
• 5 yr. population change: +7.1 percent
• Median home value: $243,500
• Median household income: $100,978

Madison, a city located along a reservoir less than 20 miles north of the state capital, ranks as Mississippi’s best city to live in. Madison is a relatively wealthy community, with a median income of $100,978 – more than double the $40,528 median income statewide. The average cost of living in Madison is also about 8 percent lower than it is nationwide.

Madison residents have access to several public parks with amenities that include an archery range, baseball and soccer fields, walking trails, batting cages, and an outdoor learning center.

25. Ladue, Missouri

• Population: 8,579
• 5 yr. population change: +1.1 percent
• Median home value: $771,500
• Median household income: $186,371

One of the wealthiest cities in Missouri, Ladue’s median household income of $186,371 a year is more than triple the national median income of $55,322. Not only is Ladue a wealthy city, but it is also inexpensive. Goods and services are 11 percent cheaper on average in Ladue than they are typically nationwide.

With easy access to jobs in nearby St. Louis, Ladue residents who want a job generally have no trouble finding one. Over the last five years, unemployment stood at just 2.0 percent in the city, a fraction of the national rate of 7.4 percent. In addition to cultural attractions and entertainment venues in St. Louis, Ladue residents enjoy a greater than typical concentration of restaurants, fitness and recreation centers, golf courses, and museums within their own city limits.

26. Miles City, Montana

• Population: 8,667
• 5 yr. population change: +3.6 percent
• Median home value: $130,100
• Median household income: $47,383

Miles City is the least expensive place to live in Montana. The city has the lowest property taxes at just $1,480 per year, as well as the least expensive median monthly housing cost at $655. Though Miles City’s $47,383 median household income is one of the lower such figures in Montana, a relatively small share of residents are impoverished. The area’s poverty rate of 13.5 percent is one of the lowest in the state, and well below Montana’s statewide poverty rate of 14.9 percent.

Miles City ranks as Montana’s best city to live in part because it is the safest place in the state. Its violent crime rate of 104 reported incidents per 100,000 residents is less than half the rate of the next safest place in the state. Miles City also has Montana’s lowest property crime rate.

27. Norfolk, Nebraska

• Population: 24,398
• 5 yr. population change: +1.9 percent
• Median home value: $123,200
• Median household income: $45,401

Norfolk is a small city of just under 25,000 in northeastern Nebraska. A relatively safe city, Norfolk’s violent crime rate of 148 incidents per 100,000 residents is less than half the national rate of 383 per 100,000. Though the typical household in Norfolk earns just $45,401 a year, about $10,000 less than the typical American household, a dollar goes a long way in Norfolk. Goods and services in and around the area are about 14.5 percent less expensive than they are nationwide on average.

28. Elko, Nevada

• Population: 20,078
• 5 yr. population change: +11.0 percent
• Median home value: $215,100
• Median household income: $76,826

Elko has by far the highest median household income of anywhere in Nevada. No other area in the state came within $20,000 of Elko’s median household income of $76,826. Although Elko residents tend to earn a relatively high amount, it is the least expensive place to live in Nevada. The cost of living in Elko is just 83.9 percent of what it costs in the typical American city.

Elko is the fastest-growing place in Nevada by a wide margin. In the past seven years, its population increased 18.7 percent to just over 20,000 people. During that same timeframe, no other place in the state had a population increase of more than 10 percent.

29. Hanover, New Hampshire

• Population: 8,482
• 5 yr. population change: +0.0 percent
• Median home value: $469,300
• Median household income: $96,406

Hanover has numerous advantages over other places in New Hampshire cities. Its median household income of $96,406 is more than $26,000 higher than the next closest city and well ahead of the statewide median, which is $68,485. Hanover is also the best educated place in the state, as 83.1 percent of adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree. No other city in New Hampshire comes close to that share. For comparison, the state’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate is 35.5 percent.

With a population of 8,482, Hanover is a smaller city. As such, many residents are able to walk to and from work. Walking not only provides numerous health benefits, but also helps decrease road traffic and reduce pollution. Some 40 percent of Hanover residents commute by walking – by far the highest rate in New Hampshire and the second highest rate of any U.S. city.

30. Haddonfield, New Jersey

• Population: 11,444
• 5 yr. population change: -1.3 percent
• Median home value: $487,700
• Median household income: $135,700

Haddonfield is one of the most economically prosperous places in New Jersey and the United States as a whole. The typical Haddonfield home earns $135,700, nearly $62,000 more than the typical New Jersey household. Haddonfield lies just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, providing its residents access to the jobs that city offers.

Compared to the rest of the state, Haddonfield residents are not likely to struggle with poverty. The area has a poverty rate of just 2.9 percent, well below New Jersey’s poverty rate of 10.9 percent. Though Haddonfield’s cost of living is 11 percent more than that of the average American city, it is still one of the lowest in New Jersey.

31. Los Alamos, New Mexico

• Population: 11,733
• 5 yr. population change: -2.9 percent
• Median home value: $277,700
• Median household income: $101,535

Los Alamos, New Mexico is flush with history, cultural amenities, and parks. These include a science museum, a theatre, nearly 100 public art installations, a network of over 90 miles of hiking trails, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park – a monument to the city’s critical role in World War II and development of the atomic bomb. Los Alamos also has one of the best public high schools in New Mexico, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Many living in the area work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a facility run by the U.S. Department of Energy with a $2.6 billion budget primarily allocated to weapons development.

32. Croton-on-Hudson, New York

• Population: 8,209
• 5 yr. population change: +2.8 percent
• Median home value: $519,400
• Median household income: $117,656

Croton-on-Hudson is a small village on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, less than 40 miles north of Manhattan. The village is on a train line that goes directly into the city, and largely as a result, more than one in every four workers in Croton-on-Hudson commute using public transit. The village’s proximity to New York City contributes to high property values as most homes in the community are worth over half a million dollars.

Croton-on-Hudson is one of the safest communities in New York. There were just 48 violent crimes for every 100,000 village residents in 2017, about an eighth of the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.

33. Morrisville, North Carolina

• Population: 22,600
• 5 yr. population change: +30.5 percent
• Median home value: $291,400
• Median household income: $92,769

Morrisville is situated in the middle of North Carolina’s “Research Triangle.” The cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are each home to a major scientific research university – North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, respectively – and several major research-intensive industries have developed in the area.

Morrisville offers close access to each of the three universities, as well as the companies that are located nearby. Morrisville is one of the fastest-growing communities in the entire country. In the past five years, its population grew more than 30 percent, from just over 13,000 to 22,600.

34. Mandan, North Dakota

• Population: 20,613
• 5 yr. population change: +14.2 percent
• Median home value: $175,400
• Median household income: $60,034

Residents of Mandan, North Dakota benefit from a low cost of living – 13 percent lower than average nationwide – a five-year average unemployment rate of 2.0 percent, and a violent crime rate that is less than half the national rate. Mandan residents also have access to jobs, entertainment, and cultural attractions in Bismarck, the state capital located on the opposite side the Missouri River.

Recently, business leaders, elected officials, and ordinary citizens established a committee to form a comprehensive plan to improve Mandan over the coming decade. The committee’s accomplishments include broadened business support and incentives, the creation of annual festivals and events, public education improvements, and increased communication regarding local elections.

35. New Albany, Ohio

• Population: 9,384
• 5 yr. population change: +25.3 percent
• Median home value: $492,400
• Median household income: $191,375

New Albany, Ohio, is one of the most affluent cities in the country. The median household income of $191,375 is one of the five highest of U.S. cities. Wealthier areas tend to have a number of livability advantages over low-income cities, including lower crime rates. There were just 36.9 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in New Albany, less than a tenth of the nationwide crime rate. New Albany also has many amenities for residents, including over 600 acres of parks and sports fields.

There are a number of factors that can draw people to certain towns, including jobs, schools, and amenities. New Albany excels in many of these aspects, and its population growth rate reflects that. The town’s population grew by more than 25 percent over the past five years, compared to the national growth rate of just 3.9 percent.

36. Newcastle, Oklahoma

• Population: 9,030
• 5 yr. population change: +21.0 percent
• Median home value: $180,300
• Median household income: $78,144

Newcastle is a small city of less than 10,000 just outside Oklahoma City. One of the fastest growing cities in the state, Newcastle’s population spiked by 21 percent in the last five years. As in other cities on this list, Newcastle residents are actively engaged in bettering their community. The city’s resident-driven Bridge to 2020 initiative launched in 2007 to develop a long-term strategic plan for the community. In addition to nearby amenities in Oklahoma City, Newcastle boasts seven golf courses, six movie theatres, access to four hospitals, and two shopping malls.

A relatively affluent city, Newcastle’s median income of $78,144 is about $30,000 higher than it is statewide and goods and services are about 17 percent less expensive than they are nationwide.

37. Sherwood, Oregon

• Population: 18,965
• 5 yr. population change: +7.5 percent
• Median home value: $313,000
• Median household income: $86,111

Sherwood is a small city about 15 miles southwest of Portland. In addition to amenities, attractions, and employment opportunities in the nearby city, Sherwood itself boasts over a dozen parks and a community recreation center and pool.

Quality of life in Sherwood is also bolstered by a low violent crime rate and relative financial stability. There were just 82 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in Sherwood in 2017, less than a quarter the national violent crime rate. Additionally, Sherwood’s 4.7 percent poverty rate is less than a third of both the state and national poverty rates of 15.7 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively.

38. Franklin Park, Pennsylvania

• Population: 14,228
• 5 yr. population change: +7.9 percent
• Median home value: $312,200
• Median household income: $121,661

Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, is a borough just outside of Pittsburgh. The area has a relatively high share of residents with high educational attainment. A whopping 70 percent of adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the higher college attainment rates among U.S. cities. Those with college degrees are more qualified for specialized jobs that tend to have higher salaries. In Franklin Park, the median household income of $121,661 a year is one of the highest in the country.

Like many affluent, well-educated areas, Franklin Park is relatively safe. The violent crime rate of 14 incidents per 100,000 people is one of the lowest in the country. Nationwide, there were 383 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2017.

39. Newport, Rhode Island

• Population: 24,570
• 5 yr. population change: -0.1 percent
• Median home value: $382,200
• Median household income: $59,794

Newport, Rhode Island is by far the best educated city in the state. More than half – 50.9 percent – of adult residents completed at least their bachelor’s degree. No other major Rhode Island community exceeded the state’s college graduation rate of 32.5 percent. This high educational attainment qualifies many of the city’s residents for highly skilled jobs and likely helps drive down the unemployment rate. Newport’s unemployment rate is just 3.8 percent, the lowest of anywhere in the country.

Though Newport’s median household income is close to that of Rhode Island as a whole, homes in the area tend to be much more valuable than those in the rest of the state. Newport’s median home value is $382,200, well above Rhode Island’s $238,200 median home value.

40. Tega Cay, South Carolina

• Population: 9,026
• 5 yr. population change: +23.3 percent
• Median home value: $301,200
• Median household income: $120,346

Tega Cay ranks as one of the best cities to live in part because of its relatively high income and the many associated benefits that come with affluence. The city’s median household income of over $120,000 is more than double the U.S. median. In a city with a high percentage of affluent households, there are also very few residents struggling with serious financial hardship. Just 0.9 percent of residents live in poverty.

Tega Cay lies near the border of the Carolinas and Lake Wiley. The water access gives residents a chance to swim, boat, and fish. As a tourist destination, the city has a high number of bars and restaurants per resident. Tega Cay is growing quickly. It was home to fewer than 5,000 people in 2009. As of 2016, more than 9,000 people lived there.

41. Pierre, South Dakota

• Population: 13,959
• 5 yr. population change: +2.2 percent
• Median home value: $164,900
• Median household income: $54,868

Most American homeowners spend more than $12,000 per year on housing. In Pierre, South Dakota, most spend less than $8,500 annually. Overall, the cost of living is lower in Pierre, as goods and services are 15 percent less expensive than they are on average nationwide.

Pierre, South Dakota’s capital, is home to many outdoor amenities largely thanks to its proximity to the Missouri River. Nearby Farm Island and LaFramboise Island offer residents the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities like swimming and hiking.

42. Atoka, Tennessee

• Population: 8,917
• 5 yr. population change: +11.9 percent
• Median home value: $172,400
• Median household income: $87,047

Many cities and towns on this list are in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. About 25 miles northeast of Memphis, Atoka is one of them. In addition to attractions and amenities in Memphis, Atoka itself has several parks featuring playgrounds, sports fields, picnic areas, and a fishing pond.

A safe community, Atoka’s violent crime rate of 152 incidents per 100,000 people is less than half the national violent crime rate. Safe streets and proximity to a major city make Atoka an attractive place for new residents and families, and in the last five years, the city’s population expanded by 11.9 percent, triple the comparable 3.9 percent national growth rate.

43. West University Place, Texas

• Population: 15,318
• 5 yr. population change: +4.0 percent
• Median home value: $917,800
• Median household income: $220,868

A wealthy suburb of Houston, West University Place ranks as the best city to live in Texas. A wealthy city, the median household income of nearly $221,000 a year is nearly four times the income the typical American household earns. A dollar also goes far in the city as goods and services are about 5 percent less expensive than they are nationwide on average. In addition to entertainment and culture in nearby Houston, West University has a far greater concentration of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, museums and theatre companies than is typical nationwide.

West University is also a safe city with a strong job market. The city’s violent crime rate of 64 incidents for every 100,000 people is among the lowest in the nation, as is the five-year average unemployment rate of 2.7 percent.

44. Woods Cross, Utah

• Population: 10,930
• 5 yr. population change: +15.5 percent
• Median home value: $226,200
• Median household income: $78,750

Just north of Salt Lake City, Woods Cross provides easy access to Utah’s largest city, as well as the Great Salt Lake to the west and Grandview Peak to the east. The proximity to Salt Lake City affords Woods Cross residents a short commute to the city, which may help bolster the city’s labor force participation rate. More than three quarters of Woods Cross adults, 77.4 percent, participate in the labor force, the most of any Utah community.

This high labor force participation likely helps drive up the median household income. The typical Woods Cross household earns $78,750 each year, well ahead of Utah’s $62,518 median household incomeS

45. South Burlington, Vermont

• Population: 18,704
• 5 yr. population change: +6.2 percent
• Median home value: $271,900
• Median household income: $66,728

Sitting along Lake Champlain, South Burlington is adjacent to Burlington, the largest city in Vermont. With access to a number of nearby colleges, including Champlain College and the University of Vermont, South Burlington’s population is well educated. Over half of all the city’s adult residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 30.3 percent national bachelor’s degree attainment rate. There are a range of employment opportunities in the area, including the University of Vermont Medical Center. Just 2.0 percent of workers in South Burlington were unemployed in 2017, below both the 3.0 percent state and 4.4 percent national unemployment rates.

A strong job market bolsters the financial security of area residents. Just 6.2 percent of South Burlington’s population live in poverty, less than half the 15.1 percent national poverty rate.

46. Waynesboro, Virginia

• Population: 21,366
• 5 yr. population change: +1.7 percent
• Median home value: $158,800
• Median household income: $45,097

Waynesboro, an independent city in Virginia, is notable for its affordability, safety, and scenic beauty. Goods and services in the city are about 7 percent less expensive than they are nationwide on average. Additionally, the violent crime rate of 182 incidents per 100,000 people is less than half the U.S. violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, Waynesboro offers easy access to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail. The South River cuts through the city, providing a water trail for residents to fish and enjoy by boat. Waynesboro also has a higher than typical concentration of restaurants, movie theatres, and museums.

47. Snoqualmie, Washington

• Population: 12,510
• 5 yr. population change: +28.3 percent
• Median home value: $471,800
• Median household income: $131,453

Snoqualmie, Washington, is one of the safest places in the country, with just 15 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2017. The town’s property crime rate of 1,077 incidents per 100,000 residents is also less than half the national rate.

Areas with higher median household incomes tend to have less crime than lower income areas. The median annual household income in Snoqualmie, which is within commuting distance of Seattle, is $131,453 a year, one of the higher incomes among American cities. In addition to the culture and entertainment Seattle has to offer, Snoqualmie has a higher than typical concentration of restaurants, bars, museums, and movie theatres.

48. Bridgeport, West Virginia

• Population: 8,364
• 5 yr. population change: +3.9 percent
• Median home value: $199,000
• Median household income: $80,462

In Bridgeport, 45.3 percent of adults have graduated from college, nearly the highest share of cities in the state. The high college attainment rate has likely contributed to the town’s relatively high median household income of $80,462 a year. Not only is Bridgeport wealthy, but it is also inexpensive. Goods and services are 15 percent less expensive than average in the city.

When it comes to culture and entertainment, Bridgeport residents have options. The city is home to a far higher concentration of restaurants, bars, recreation centers, golf courses, and movie theatres than is typical nationwide.

49. Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

• Population: 14,088
• 5 yr. population change: +0.4 percent
• Median home value: $350,700
• Median household income: $105,156

Whitefish Bay, a Milwaukee suburb along the shore of Lake Michigan, ranks as the best place to live in Wisconsin. The high quality of life in Whitefish Bay is partially the result of a strong job market. The area’s average unemployment rate over the last five years stands at just 3.2 percent – less than half the comparable nationwide rate of of 7.4 percent.

Whitefish Bay is also one of the safest communities in the country, with a violent crime rate of just 36 incidents per 100,000 people. For reference, there were 383 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide in 2017.

50. Jackson, Wyoming

• Population: 10,279
• 5 yr. population change: +7.6 percent
• Median home value: $573,400
• Median household income: $70,517

The resort town of Jackson ranks as the best place to live in Wyoming. Jackson boasts a high concentration of restaurants, bars, museums, and movie theatres, as well as access to Jackson Hole, one of the most famous ski resorts in the United States.

Incomes are relatively high in Jackson. The typical area household earns $70,517 a year, about $11,000 more than the typical Wyoming household. Higher incomes are not enough to offset the area’s high cost of living, however, as goods and services are about 35 percent more expensive in Jackson than they are on average nationwide. Housing is particularly expensive as most area homes are worth over half a million dollars.

Methodology

To identify the best cities to live in every state, 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 26 measures that fall into one of four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community.

In the affordability category, the ratio of the median home value to the median income was given full weight. Cities where the median home value is closer to the median household income were rewarded. Cost of living, as determined by the average cost of goods and services in an area relative to the nation as a whole, was given a full weight. Property taxes are largely levied at the local level, and cities where residents pay more property taxes as a percentage of their home value were penalized. Property taxes were given a one-quarter weighting.

In the economy category, we gave median household income full weighting. The unemployment rate was also given a full weight. We used five-year average unemployment due to lack of comparable annual data at local levels. Two-year employment growth and share of the total working age population with a job were each given a half weight, favoring areas with more and growing jobs opportunities.

In the quality of life category, the poverty rate was given a full weight, penalizing cities where serious financial hardship is more common. The share of the population that struggles to put food on the table either due to low income or distance from a grocery store, known as the food insecurity rate, was given full weight. A city’s mortality rate, calculated as the number of people who died while in hospital care per hospital by city, was also given full weight. In cases where city-level data was not available, mortality rates were imputed from county-level data.

The drug overdose mortality rate was given a one-quarter weighting, as was the hospital readmission rate, or the share of those released from the hospital who were readmitted within 30 days. Distance from the center of the city to the nearest hospital was given full weight.
Measures used in the community category include the average travel time to work, which was given full weight. The violent crime rate – the total number of rapes, robberies, murders, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 people – was given full weight. So too was the property crime rate, which is the total number of burglaries, larcenies, motor vehicle thefts, and incidents of arson per 100,000 people.

The share of commuters either walking, cycling, or taking public transit to work was given half weight. The total number of colleges in the area and the number of restaurants, bars, museums, theatre companies, movie theatres, libraries, and parks per capita were each given a one-quarter weighting.

The number of hospitalizations that would have been prevented by regularly scheduled doctor visits for every 1,000 Medicare enrollees – known as the preventable hospitalization rate – was given half weighting.

Median household income, median home value, average travel time to work, poverty rate, population, employment-to-population ratio, median property taxes paid, and average unemployment rate are all five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are for 2016. Overall cost of living is for 2014 and comes from data analysis and aggregation company ATTOM Data Solutions.

The population-adjusted number of entertainment and cultural venues like restaurants and museums comes from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns data set, and is for 2016. The number of colleges comes from the Department of Education College Navigator and is as of the 2017-2018 school year.

Violent and property crime rates are from the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report. Drug overdose mortality rates are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are for the years 2014-2016. Mortality rates and hospital readmission rates are from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and are as of June 2015. Preventable hospitalizations are from the latest release from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program.

24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

By Samuel Stebbins and Grant Suneson

From 24/7 Wall Street and USA TODAY’s 2019 Best Cities to Live List

Ohio Magazine has named New Albany as one of its 2018-19 Best Hometowns

August 13th, 2018

New Albany, OH selected as one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns

NEW ALBANY, OHIO – New Albany, Ohio is honored to be recognized as one of Ohio’s best hometowns by Ohio Magazine.

Ohio Magazine annually recognizes hometowns for this award based on community spirit, education, entertainment, health and safety, business environment, and culture and heritage. New Albany is being recognized for the 2018-2019 year along with four other communities in Ohio: Cambridge, Findlay, Media and Troy.

New Albany’s unique focus on four core community values: lifelong learning, culture and the arts; health and wellness; and sustainability; made an impact on the Ohio Magazine selection committee. As a Best Hometown finalist, Ohio Magazine visited New Albany in June. “They were very interested in learning more about how New Albany embraces education, culture, leisure and health,” said Cherie Nelson, Executive Director of the New Albany Chamber, about the site visit.

Gems of the community including New Albany’s 200-acre school learning campus, the McCoy Center for the Arts and the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany were toured along with New Albany’s leisure trails, shops and restaurants.

“We pride ourselves on having a community that is aspirational,” Mayor Sloan Spalding shared, “and very strategic and thoughtful about our growth.” The ideals of New Albany drive a strong sense of civic pride and community service that runs deep within New Albany. As a master planned community, New Albany is particularly fortunate to have cohesion and collaboration of the many community groups, businesses and public partnerships that make it a special place to live, work and visit.

As part of the site visit, City of New Albany Director of Administrative Services, Adrienne Joly shared plans to transform the Rose Run Creek and corridor, overgrown with brush and invasive species, into New Albany’s central park, a civic asset to foster connections among people and with the environment. When complete in late 2019, Rose Run Park will include a bridge and promenade connecting the school campus to Market Square, dedicated bike lanes and walking trails, nature walks along the Rose Run corridor, a library garden, a bike hub, and safer pedestrian access for students.

Live Like a Local

July 25th, 2018

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 »

Nottingham Trace: Age-restricted development will open in 2018

December 4th, 2017

By this time next year, the first houses in New Albany’s Nottingham Trace development likely will be occupied.

New Albany City Council on Nov. 28 gave the developer, Pulte Homes, approval to move forward with the first phase of the single-family-home subdivision.

Council members voted 6-0 to approve the final plat for the 48-acre, 57-lot first phase. Mayor Sloan Spalding, President Pro Tempore Colleen Briscoe and Marlene Brisk, Mike Durik, Chip Fellows and Matt Shull voted in favor of the ordinance. Glyde Marsh was absent.

The zoning on the land requires that at least 80 percent of the units within the development must have a minimum of one occupant who is at least 55 years old, according to the legislation. A maximum of 240 lots can be included in the entire 100-acre development.

Tom Rubey, director of development for the New Albany Co., said the development is intended to be 100 percent age-restricted but “enforcement of the regulation by the federal government is limited to 80 percent of the units.”

He said the New Albany Co. plans to sell property west of New Albany-Condit Road (state Route 605) and south of Walnut Street to Pulte Homes in January. The land is off Schleppi Road and near Rocky Fork Metro Park in northern Plain Township.

Valerie Dolenga of Pulte Homes said a tentative grand opening is planned next fall for the community.

Rubey said he expects the first houses to be occupied by late fall or early winter and the community would take five to six years to complete.

According to a report prepared by Underhill & Hodge LLC, the development is estimated to add 17 students to the New Albany-Plain Local School District enrollment. The annual cost to educate the 17 students would be $212,619, the report said.

When the community is built out, it should generate an estimated $1.9 million annually in property-tax revenue for the school district, based on a schools-impact statement provided to the city as part of the rezoning process.

A 28-acre park also is planned as part of the development, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

Although Pulte is building the park, it ultimately would be owned by the city, McAfee said.

Funding for the new park would come from a “nonschool” tax-increment-financing district for Nottingham Trace that is projected to generate $12.4 million over 30 years.

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 the case of a nonschool TIF, the additional property tax revenue is diverted from all entities except school districts, according to New Albany community-development director Jennifer Chrysler said. Recent state legislation added vocational schools to that exception, she said.

For the Nottingham Trace TIF, the schools would be New Albany-Plain Local and Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, according to a previous council legislative report.

Chrysler said the TIF also would be structured so it did not divert money from the Plain Township Fire Department.

The TIF would cover 64 developed acres, Chrysler said.

By Sarah Sole
From This Week Community News

New Albany’s growth is second to one

May 29th, 2017

It isn’t nearly finished, but Grandview Yard already is making a big impact.

The number of people living in Grandview Heights grew by the largest percentage among all Franklin County cities last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released May 25. The suburb’s population increased by about 5 percent and is now home to 7,628 people.

The second- and third-fastest growing cities in Franklin County in 2016 were New Albany and Hilliard, which grew about 4.6 and 3.7 percent, respectively. Now, 10,199 people live in New Albany and 34,905 in Hilliard.

Grandview Yard, the 125-acre mixed-use development on the city’s east side, on the site of a former warehouse, is likely a major factor in Grandview Heights’ growth, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” he said.

Grandview Yard will add an estimated 1,300 residential units and 1.2 million square feet of retail space once it’s complete. Nationwide Realty Investors is its developer. Construction began in 2009 and likely will continue for several more years.

Some commercial aspects of the project are in Columbus, and that proximity to an urban core also likely is luring residents, DeGraw said.

Meanwhile, the village of Marble Cliff, which borders Grandview Heights, increased its population by 5.1 percent, to 671 people.

The population in every other Franklin County city, village and township grew in 2016, but increases were from less than 1 percent to 1.3 percent, according to the data.

All of Franklin County grew by 1.1 percent, or 14,249 people, for a total of 1,264,518. Columbus grew by 1.2 percent, 10,046 people, for a total of 860,090.

Like Grandview Heights, officials from New Albany and Hilliard credited their growth to strategic development. They emphasized balancing commercial and residential projects, often in close proximity, to achieve success.

Their communities also offer high-quality school districts, plenty of amenities and housing options for all stages of life, they said.

“All the surveys are telling us growth is coming to central Ohio, and not just Columbus, but suburbs and the entire region,” Hilliard spokesman Doug Francis said. “We’re aware of it, ready for it and couldn’t be happier about it.”

Hilliard has added a mix of single-family homes and apartments throughout the city, including three key projects: Heritage Preserve, a west-side subdivision; and Landmark Lofts and the Hilliard Gateway, two mixed-use projects.

New Albany has grown steadily by adding about 100 homes every year since 2010, spokesman Scott McAfee said. The city also boasts one of the largest master-planned business parks in Ohio, with 9 million square feet developed.

Both cities also have renewed their focus on a denser, pedestrian-friendly core.

The recently released census data continue a trend of significant growth in all three cities during the past seven years. New Albany has grown 32.4 percent, more than any other Franklin County city, since the 2010 census. Hilliard has grown 22.8 percent and Grandview Heights 16.7 percent.

By comparison, Franklin County’s population has increased a total of 8.7 percent and the city of Columbus’ population has increased 9.3 percent.

As of this year, Franklin County is now the most-populous county in Ohio, with 1.26 million residents, edging out the approximately 1.25 million Cuyahoga County residents sometime last year after that county lost 5,673 residents.

A recent report by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission estimates that the seven-county region of central Ohio is on pace to attract approximately 1 million new people between 2010 and 2050, for a total of 3 million residents by 2050.

By Alissa Widman Neese with Doug Caruso
From The Columbus Dispatch

Central Ohio communities with the highest home values – COUNTDOWN

March 7th, 2017

The No. 1 community in Central Ohio when it comes to the median home value is about 20 miles away from downtown Columbus and includes a small village with a New England-style downtown full of structures that date to the 1820s.

Read the full article at Columbus Business First »

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

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.

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