Designers for Upper Arlington’s first community center expect to unveil final plans for the facility in February after they work through the configuration of parking and the overall height of the building.
After collecting public feedback and working with city officials since August, representatives from MSA Sport are closing in on the design of a 155,300-square-foot facility that will house a 95,300-square-foot community center.
The firm has devised two designs within those dimensions. Keith Hall, managing principal of MSA Sport’s Columbus studio, said he plans to present final recommendations at Upper Arlington’s State of the City address slated for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
In the meantime, Hall said, the firm will work with focus groups of Upper Arlington residents to further discuss the long-term sustainability of the facility, as well as its accessibility to people of various abilities, aquatics programming and programming for seniors and teens.
MSA Sport representatives are working to determine which of two plans should be selected.
While the size of the building is the same in both proposals, one calls for a six-story building with an underground parking garage, and the other calls for a seven-story building with surface parking.
“By putting the parking underground, we can actually lower the height of the overall building,” said Katie Freeman, an associate principal with MSA Sport and director of its Columbus studio.
Both proposals call for 50,000 square feet of leasable office space. Currently, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is expected to take up about 35,000 square feet and Nationwide Children’s Hospital would take up to 15,000 square feet.
Scheme A, which calls for street-level parking, tentatively would feature:
• First floor: a plaza, a swimming pool and a child-watch area
• Second floor: a senior lounge, programming spaces, facility administrative space and fitness space
• Third floor: Nationwide Children’s Hospital offices
• Fourth floor: OSU Wexner rehabilitation services
• Fifth floor: fitness space, three gymnasiums and OSU Wexner sports performance services
• Sixth floor: fitness space and a 1/6 of a mile track
• Seventh floor: a multiuse space and an outdoor deck
Hall said a disadvantage to street-level parking “is that it pushes programming space up in the building.”
The advantages of scheme A, he said, is parking would be “right up next to the building” and users would get a longer track. However, he said that the design “consolidates a lot of the tenant buildout space.”
Scheme B, the underground parking option, calls for:
• First floor: a plaza, fitness space, a child watch area, pool and lockers
• Second floor: fitness space, facility administrative space, leasable space
• Third floor: fitness space, a gym, OSU Wexner rehab and sports performance spaces
• Fourth floor: OSU Wexner and Nationwide Children’s spaces
• Fifth floor: a multiuse space, two gyms and an outdoor deck
• Sixth floor: a 1/10 of a mile track
“By pushing the parking down one level and the advantage of gaining that extra square footage at grade level for program space, that allows us to push the building down a floor,” Hall said. “We feel like (with scheme B) we’ve got really great organization to the building.
“We can integrate OSU and all those other tenants to this facility, as well as spaces being integrated into it.”
Hall and City Manager Steve Schoeny said scheme B also creates additional “found” spaces that would allow more activities and planning.
While the fifth-floor gyms would be the same size as the Upper Arlington High School gym and would allow for activities such as basketball, pickleball and volleyball, Hall said the gym on the third floor in scheme B would be a multiuse gym with a rubberized surface that could be used for those activities and events for the community and the building’s tenants.
“The (multiuse) gym is also going to be used by the (building) partners quite a bit for physical therapy,” he said.
Schoeny said scheme B provides more of the multigenerational components that he prefers for the community center.
“If you compare that with option A, this does get the community center members moving on each of the floors,” Schoeny said. “Whereas, if you look at option A, you’ve got these two floors that are almost kind of a gap between them and what really is the community center.
“One thing we talked about with the partners is the importance of having this entire building feel like one facility and not a community center sandwich. The more we thought about how the community center should flow, we can get the benefits of having people move throughout the building and deal with some of the, ‘Well, why isn’t the gym on this floor?’ with some signage and wayfinding.”
City officials expect the community center to open in 2024.
The community center portion of the project, which is estimated to cost approximately $55 million, will be paid for by issuing $40 million in long-term debt. According to the city’s community center website, sealion-mango-ngy5.squarespace.com/, debt service will be approximately $2.3 million per year.
The city intends to pay off the debt using tax-increment financing revenue generated by Continental Real Estate Cos., Kingsdale mixed-used development and other TIF districts around Upper Arlington’s annual hotel/motel revenues, plus rent and income-tax revenue generated by the office spaces that will be located in the community center building.
Additionally, $5.4 million in private funds raised through the Upper Arlington Community Foundation will be applied to the project, as will $8.8 million to $9 million in city reserves, according to Upper Arlington officials.