Construction of a medical center by The Ohio State University in Powell has been much anticipated since a final development plan for phase one of the project was approved in February 2019. However, those plans continue to reside in a holding pattern as Powell City Council approved an extension Tuesday for the developers to delay the start of work on the site.
Under the approved final development plan, site construction was required to begin within two years of plan’s approval, with construction being completed within a five-year period. With the extension, the deadline for site work to begin is now May 31, 2023. The deadline for completion of phase one has been extended to May 31, 2025.
Approved for phase one is an ambulatory care center and medical office building totaling approximately 200,000 square feet on the northeast corner of Sawmill Parkway and Home Road, across from Olentangy Liberty High School. The ambulatory care center would feature outpatient services, including surgeries, lab testing, physician visits and more.
Aaron Underhill, the attorney representing the university on the project, cited the pandemic as the biggest reason that led to their request of a deadline extension.
“Unfortunately, with everything that we’ve been dealing with in this world with the pandemic over the last year, the result has been that the university has had to reshuffle the deck chairs and reprioritize some things,” Underhill said. “The result has been a delay in designing and ultimately getting started on the construction of this project.”
Underhill reiterated that the university still owns the land and is still very much invested in Powell. However, he said the delay in progress on the site is not surprising to him given similar projects the university is working on in the New Albany and Dublin communities. Underhill pointed out that the university identified the land in Powell and wanted to jump on the purchase of the land to ensure it would stay available to them, but the Powell project was always the third in line behind the other two projects.
“Assuming the pandemic starts leveling out, and we’re able to get back into some semblance of normalcy, our hope is that later in the year, we can start consideration of the final design,” he went on to say. “But I think that is dependant on a lot of things.”
Before the physical construction of the site can move forward, OSU will still need to submit for approval the architecture and landscaping plans for the first phase. The developers received approval of the final development plan from the Powell Planning Commission in 2019 in a show of good faith despite the lack of extensive details normally required from the city.
“Given that this is The Ohio State University … we can trust that they will continue to work with us to finalize the details that will ensure that we do introduce a world-class facility to the city of Powell,” commission member Bill Little said of the project in 2019.
Despite the lack of progression, the project still has the full support from city staff, with City Manager Andrew White calling it “probably the most vitally important economic development project we’ve had at any time in the city’s history, period.”
Councilman Jon Bennehoof expressed his appreciation for the developers’ commitment to the project, saying, “My comment is just one of thanks to OSU and Aaron for this project. I know that we all worked on it real hard. We’re looking forward to it, and we appreciate their tenacity or perseverance.”