School Board Approves Sale of Historic Building to OSU
The Columbus Board of Education last night approved the sale of the former Indianola Middle School to the Ohio State University. The school, located at 420 East 19th Avenue, sits on about nine acres of land next to the railroad tracks that form the eastern boundary of the University District.
Although the sale had been expected since the OSU Board of Trustees gave its approval of the idea in June, historic preservationists and neighborhood leaders remained concerned at the possibility that Columbus City Schools (CCS) would decide to auction off the site to real estate interests instead.
With last night’s vote, that possibility appears to be closed, and talk quickly turned to exactly what would be done with the property after OSU buys it for $2.3 million.
Trudy Bartley, OSU’s Associate Vice President for Community Relations, stressed that no detailed plan has been worked out, but CCS would be a full partner in the project. With her comments and those of the board, though, it became clear that the building will likely house a new CCS school that would be run in collaboration with OSU.
“We didn’t come here with a pre-approved idea. It’s going to be mutually agreed upon,” said Bartley. “Will it be a neighborhood school, a district-sponsored school, a lottery-based school, a STEM-based school? If agreed upon, yes, but we want to work with (the district) on what that will be.”
Bartley cited the Health Sciences Academies, which include all of the schools within the East High School feeder pattern, as an example of a successful collaboration between the university and the school district. Bartley was previously the Executive Director of PACT, which played a role in establishing that partnership.
“We’ve looked at the possibility of a Pre-K through 12 school, or a six through 12 school,” she added.
The sale of the building to OSU had the support of the University Area Commission, which approved a resolution to that effect last month.
“This is the only sizable green space in the University District besides Tuttle Park and the oval; it’s very important to us what happens with it,” said Doreen Uhas Sauer, president of the commission. “I’d also like to add that I don’t see this as just a pilot project in the University District…this is the embryonic kind of outreach that can grow far beyond, into the city at large and into other neighborhoods.”
Uhas Sauer said that she was recently contacted by a representative of a nationally-known window company who offered to replace all of the building’s windows for free.
“They fell in love with the building,” she said. “This is the kind of help you can expect when you have collaborations in place.”
A member of the Columbus Landmarks board and the organization’s Executive Director also voiced their support for the sale, as did a number of area residents. The building, which was designed by OSU Stadium architect Howard Dwight Smith and was the site of the country’s first junior high school, was featured on Columbus Landmark’s Most Endangered List for several years.
One amendment was added to the resolution approving the sale of the building. The amendment allows for final changes to be made to a Memorandum of Understanding spelling out the terms of the partnership with OSU going forward.