Ben Wirtz seal
The Ridges Advisory Committee held a hybrid meeting on Monday, November 28th to discuss progress and next steps related to the overall strategy that will help identify opportunities for future development, rehabilitation, reuse and preservation of the Kirkbride campus and surrounding land owned by Ohio State University.
The primary objective of the development strategy that the Ridges Development Advisors presented to the committee is to further advance the overall implementation of the Ridges Framework. The development strategy has been further adapted 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 completion.
“Over 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 to identify those that might be available at The Ridges, but to ensure they are equally aligned with the needs of the larger community,” said Dominick Brook, director of real estate at Ohio University.
Brook said any future development opportunities, including consideration of creating a new community agency that could provide more opportunities for governance and community reinvestment, remain exploratory and warrant continued collaboration and discussion with the Ohio University Board of Trustees and other stakeholders in the community University would require with the City of Athens, the County of Athens and the State of Ohio before proceeding.
Brook also noted that while financial viability continues to play an important role in the development consultants’ planning process, the overall management, rehabilitation and preservation of The Ridges remains the core objective and the university has no intention of selling or vacating any of the historic building or land currently used by the university.
Associate Vice President of University Planning Shawna Wolfe reiterated OHIO’s commitment to conservation, stating that a total of fewer than 100 acres of the more than 700 acres of land comprising The Ridges could ultimately be identified for new development.
“Our goal has always been to work collectively and purposefully to reactivate The Ridges in a way that further integrates our campus and community by creating a sense of connection and belonging while responsibly honoring the history and importance of this storied space acknowledge,” Wolfe said.
Since 2015, OHIO has invested more than $28 million in The Ridges, including the recent conversion of the east wing of the Kirkbride Building into a space that now houses the University of Ohio Police Department and provides offices and common areas for various departments of OHIO Employee. The Ridges also underwent significant road and infrastructure improvements and saw the opening of the OHIO Observatory and the launch of the OHIO Museum complex. In addition, management through numerous community volunteers continues to play an important role in the overall efforts of The Ridges, including promoting tree and trail conservation and helping to fund efforts to improve the construction of common spaces.
The 700-acre property was donated to the university by the state of Ohio in 1989.