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Easton Developer Shows Interest in Prime Worthington Site

Brent Warren Brent Warren Easton Developer Shows Interest in Prime Worthington SiteA land use plan for the site from the 2014 update to the Worthington Comprehensive Plan.
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There may be some movement on plans to develop the former United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) site in Worthington.

“There is ongoing dialogue taking place to determine the future of the property,” stated an update posted to the City of Worthington’s website earlier this week. The statement further explained that Yaromir Steiner has expressed interest in working with Lifestyle Communities to come up with a new plan for the 37-acre site, which is located across North High Street from the Worthington Municipal Building.

Steiner is the Founder and CEO of Steiner + Associates, the co-developer of Easton along with many other lifestyle centers, mixed-use projects and residential developments around the country.

“I am evaluating the project and exploring with the city and community if this is a project I want to be involved with,” Steiner wrote in an email to Columbus Underground.

That community outreach includes discussions with Worthington Alliance for Responsible Development (WARD), according to the city’s statement. WARD is the group that mobilized to raise concerns about the 2015 proposal, from Lifestyle Communities, to build a 500-unit-plus mixed-use development on the site.

While no timeline has been offered and no new proposal submitted to the city, the news that the different parties are talking – and that Steiner is now involved – has raised hopes that something significant could be built on the site.

The 2015 proposal aligned closely with guidelines for the redevelopment of the site laid out in the city’s comprehensive plan, but it faced stiff opposition from some Worthington residents.

Steiner, who served on the steering committee for Insight2050, also serves as co-chair of the Regional Corridor Analysis study that grew out of that initiative. Council President Shannon Hardin is the other chair, and has talked about the need for more walkable, mixed-use development along existing urban corridors; both to meet the existing demand for that type of development and to stem the continuing outward sprawl of the region.

The UMCH site may offer a glimpse into how that strategy will translate to a real-world development – it is located along an established corridor, within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of Old Worthington, but efforts to build anything other than low-density single family homes on it have thus far run into resistance from residents.

A proposal from Ohio Health to build a two-story medical facility on a portion of the UMCH land was tabled by the municipal planning commission when it was brought before it in February of 2017. The city’s website states that there are no new updates on that proposal.

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