Representatives from The Ohio State University were on hand for Thursday’s Powell City Council meeting to seek annexation of several parcels that make up a 30-acre piece of land located near the northeast corner of Sawmill Parkway and Home Road, across from Olentangy Liberty High School. The land, which the university is purchasing from Golf Village LLC, will be used to construct a medical campus, beginning with a 200,000-square-foot ambulatory care center.
Council members voted to suspend the rule requiring three readings and then voted unanimously to approve the annexation of the land into the city from Liberty Township. The Powell Planning and Zoning Commission will review a sketch plan of the first phase at its July 11 meeting.
“This proposed project is a win-win for the community on many levels,” City Manager Steve Lutz said. “It provides for a significant medical center which will be used by many of our residents … The new income tax revenues that will be generated are much needed as a result of the state house budget cuts, which have impacted Powell and all Ohio municipalities in recent years.”
Lutz said there is a “misnomer” that land annexed from Liberty Township no longer benefits the township. He said annexing the land into Powell would not reduce taxes in any way for Liberty Township, citing the 8 percent of property taxes paid by Powell residents that go to the township.
According to Lutz, phase one will include “many specialty services as well as diagnostic and procedural surgical services. It will have convenient walk-in urgent care, primary care, several specialty cares, and various lab testing, imaging and treatment services under one roof.”
Lutz added phase one is projected to employ at least 500 physicians and staff, with an estimated payroll that will exceed $50 million annually once the facility is fully complete. He said those numbers will only increase with additions of later phases.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is also looking at building a similar facility on the northeast side of Columbus, near New Albany. The cost to construct each campus is estimated at $95 million. Keith Myers, vice president of planning and real estate for OSU, said between design and construction, it would be at least two-and-a-half years after final approval before doors in Powell would be opened.
Lutz praised the stable longevity the medical center will bring, as well as the known commodity it represents.
“Ohio State medical dates back to 1834. It’s been around for almost 200 years,” Lutz said. “If I were a betting man, I think it’s going to be around for another 50, 100, 200 years. That’s something that we can’t say about most businesses that come into existence. They may be here today, gone tomorrow. OSU will be around.”
Councilman Daniel Swartwout called the idea of this project and its benefits “breathtaking,” going on to say, “This is truly a tremendous opportunity for the city of Powell to bring a world-class facility into our backyard. I don’t think you can overstate the fact that Ohio State is a world-class facility, and we will all, as a community, have access to that, just a few moments away.”
Added Mayor Jon Bennehoof, “I think the community will really grow to understand and love this project. The service side of it is terrific, and then looking at the long-term income side of it is also terrific. The things that will spider out from it, I anticipate being amazing.”