The Ridges

Over the past 18 months, Community Building Partners and Buckeye Hills Regional Council have collaborated with valuable stakeholders— including
Ohio University, the City of Athens, and Athens County, along with a team of planners, engineers, attorneys, and market analysts — to develop an economically viable strategy to reactivate The Ridges. This plan builds off the valuable work developed by the Ridges Framework Plan and will advance those objectives.

Community Building Partners and Buckeye Hills Regional Council have collaborated with valuable stakeholders— including Ohio University, the City of Athens, and Athens County, to develop an economically viable strategy to reactivate The Ridges. This strategy builds off of, and aligns closely with, the vision of the Ridges Framework Plan. We have tested and refined the viability of this strategy with urban planners, engineers, attorneys, market analysts, lenders and institutional investors to ensure we have a strategy that works.

This plan is a 7-10 year, $220+ million investment into reactivating The Ridges and the Appalachian region, and its full buildout includes 700+ new units of housing and 20,000 sf of commercial development. Ohio University will continue to be an anchor user at the Ridges while continuing to utilize the historic buildings and land it currently operates.

THE RIDGES — ESTIMATED ECONOMIC IMPACT

Construction jobs

sq feet of commercial space

Contribution to GDP

New units of housing

Acres of natural Appalachia

Buckeye Hills Regional Council and Community Building Partners are the master developers of The Ridges, having developed this strategy in close coordination with key project partners identified below.

Ohio University will continue to be an anchor user at The Ridges moving forward. OU’s Voinovich School, located at the Ridges, will be a key partner in studying the development and replicating successful economic strategies in communities across the Appalachian region.

ZoneCo is a national leader in crafting clear, consistent, user-friendly, equitable, resilient, and defensible zoning regulations that promote your community’s vision. At the Ridges, ZoneCo provided zoning recommendations that allow for the seamless integration and development of new infill development alongside the historic redevelopment of the Ridges.

The National Land Advisory Group, established in 1987, is a multi-faceted corporation engaged in the market research and consulting of various real estate activities. National Land Advisory Group supplies consulting services to real estate and finance professionals and state housing agencies through conducting market feasibility studies. At the Ridges, the National Land Advisory Group established the viability to repurpose the site for a variety of users, including family housing, senior-housing, and artisan-live work communities.

OHM Advisors are an interdisciplinary firm of 600 professionals across planning, engineering, and landscape architecture. At the Ridges, OHM Advisors provided both civil engineering and land capacity analysis. The team identified costs associated with upgrading existing infrastructure serving the Kirkbride Campus and the infrastructure cost associated with the limited new development proposed at the Ridges. Their planners also assessed limited infill sites at the Ridges to identify opportunities for new housing that align with the market study and will support the ongoing investment at the Kirkbride Campus.

An innovative feature to finance this long-term development is the creation of a New Community Authority to guide the overall stewardship, rehabilitation, and preservation of The Ridges. The New Community Authority will permit the development of the project to be stewarded through a series of public-private investments designed to attract multiple private development partners for specific investments, without relying on University, City and County resources. It permits the staged development matching those investments with necessary supporting infrastructure supported with the issuance of bonds by the New Community Authority.

This strategy relieves the University, the City of Athens, and Athens County from taking on financial liabilities beyond those specific engagements that may be of interest to any or all these entities. The New Community Authority can engage with multiple developers, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to catalyze individually financed investments that complement the master development plan. The NCA will be led by a board of trustees— appointed by the master developer, the City of Athens, and the community —who will govern future decisions regarding development and community investment.

The Ridges Framework Plan addressed the current state of The Ridges land and buildings, investigated potential uses and adaptability, identified global issues bearing on access and integration with the rest of campus, and outlined financial strategies to realize the potential of this resource. The plan is sensitive to the significance of The Ridges as a community and regional asset.

The analysis described was informed by the history of this complex, previous studies, and new collection of data and ideas. Significant input to the process from both campus and community was provided by the Ridges Master Planning Committee and its subcommittees, the Ridges Advisory Committee, and the public, through meetings and workshops.

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