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The Ridges will move forward in development to preserve historic buildings and land

The Ridges will move forward in its development strategy to preserve the historic buildings and land as the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved a resolution to designate certain buildings and limited areas of land as surplus in order to prepare the area for transfer to the Ridges Community Development LLC during the June Board meetings.

This transfer will allow for the development group to begin the rehabilitation of these buildings, starting with Buildings 2, 3, and 4, turning them into senior housing with wrap-around services. Other building plans include offering live-in artisan workspaces and retail and restaurant opportunities.

In total, 21 buildings at The Ridges will be transferred over to the New Community Authority for rehabilitation and development, with the end goal of preserving these historic buildings through providing community needs like seniors housing.

The approved resolution also authorizes  a conservation easement on the majority of the Ridges land in order to restrict and limit new development and to protect the current uses of the land, much of which include the nature trails and OHIO Museum Complex. Of the 700 acres at The Ridges, approximately 77% of the acreage will be placed under the conservation easement with a little less than 25 acres being transferred for development.

The new development that will take place is focused on affordable, smaller homes and townhouses that are small plots. These houses will be loft-style apartments and family units and between the new development, senior housing, and live-in studios, should create space for about 750 dwellings, housing nearly 1,700 to 2,000 people.

All buildings currently being occupied and invested in by the University will continue to belong to and utilized by OHIO.

The Board also approved a resolution for the creation of a condominium association to preserve the character of the historic campus and to ensure Ohio University’s ongoing entitlements and privileges in this area.

On June 15, Athens City Council passed a resolution recognizing the creation of a New Community Authority (NCA) for The Ridges. They also appointed, ex officio, Ohio University Director of Real Estate Dominick Brook and Assistant Vice President for University Planning Shawna Wolfe to the NCA Board of Trustees.

In addition to Brook and Wolfe, they also appointed Christine Knisely, current council president, and City Safety-Service Director Andy Stone, the local government representative, to the NCA Board of Trustees, as well Joe Recchie and Laura Recchie, both part of Community Building Partners, and Chasity Schmelzenbach, Buckeye Hills Regional Council executive director.

At the January 2023 Ohio University Board meeting, the Board approved the implementation of the New Community Authority (NCA) strategy proposed by Buckeye Hills Regional Council and Community Building Partners (The Ridges Development Advisors), however, to transfer the land over, the city of Athens also had to approve the creation of the NCA.

Next steps in the process include preparation for conveyance, state approvals, conveyance, preparation for development, and ultimately the rehabilitation of the historic buildings and commencement of new development.

This progress is the product of multiple community conversations regarding the future of The Ridges and collaborative conversations that have focused on ways to best preserve its historical buildings and the land – the main goal of The Ridges Framework Plan which was approved in 2015.

July 6, 2023
Staff reports