University Community

Ridges Advisory Committee working to finalize development strategy for The Ridges

The Ridges Advisory Committee held a hybrid meeting on Monday, November 28 to discuss the progress and next steps related to the overall strategy that will help to guide opportunities for future development, rehabilitation, reuse and preservation of the Kirkbride campus and surrounding land owned by Ohio University.

The core goal of the development strategy, which the Ridges Development Advisors presented to the Committee, is to further advance the overall implementation of the Ridges Framework Plan. The development strategy has continued to adapt through a combination of stakeholder feedback and the evolving needs of Ohio University, Athens and the surrounding region and is in the early stages of finalization.

“For the past 18 months, the Ridges Development Advisors, a partnership between Buckeye Hills Regional Council and Community Building Partners, have engaged in numerous planning, research and stakeholder engagement activities to not only help identify the development opportunities that could be available at The Ridges, but to ensure they equally align with the needs of the larger community as well,” said Ohio University Director of Real Estate Dominick Brook.

Brook said that all future development opportunities, including the consideration of creating a New Community Authority that could provide increased avenues for stewardship and community reinvestment, remain exploratory and would require continued collaborations and discussion with the Ohio University Board of Trustees and other University Stakeholders, along with the City of Athens, Athens County, and the State of Ohio, before moving forward.

Brook also noted that, while financial feasibility continues to play an important role in the Development Advisors’ planning process, the overall stewardship, rehabilitation and preservation of The Ridges remains the core goal, and the University neither intends to sell or vacate any of the historic buildings or land that the University currently utilizes.

Associate Vice President for University Planning Shawna Wolfe reiterated OHIO’s commitment to preservation and stated that less than 100 total acres of the more than 700 acres of land that comprises The Ridges could ultimately be identified for new development.  

“Our goal has always been to work collaboratively and purposely to reactivate The Ridges in a way that further integrates our campus and community by creating a sense of connection and belonging while responsibly acknowledging the history and importance of this storied space,” Wolfe said.

Since 2015, OHIO has invested more than $28 million into The Ridges, including the recent transformation of the eastern wing of the Kirkbride building into a space that is now home to the Ohio University Police Department and provides offices and collaborative space for various OHIO departments and employees. The Ridges has also undergone significant roadway and infrastructure improvements and experienced the opening of the OHIO Observatory and the launch of the OHIO Museum Complex. Additionally, stewardship by numerous community volunteers continues to play an important role in overall efforts at The Ridges, including the fostering of tree and trail preservation and helping to fund efforts that provide building improvements to community spaces.

The property, which spans over 700 acres, was given to the University by the State of Ohio in 1989.

Learn more about The Ridges.

December 1, 2022
Staff reports