Upper Arlington City Council is readying to consider a significant step toward fulfilling a long-anticipated wish of many residents – a community center to call our own. Over the years, various surveys, studies, and anecdotal feedback cited the lack of a community center as a top concern. A resident-led task force, formed in the summer of 2019, placed renewed focus on the issue, concluding by the close of 2020 that a community center was needed, and the City could make it happen without any increase in City income or property taxes. To ensure the community’s support, on the May 2021 ballot City Council asked residents if the City should build a community center. Almost 80% of voters replied with a resounding “Yes.” With this clear directive in hand, the City began an extensive process to design and prepare for the construction of the community center.
Upper Arlington’s new Community Center will be a 150,000 square foot facility spanning five floors plus a large mezzanine. The facility will include the following:
- Entry/lobby, indoor pool, multi-purpose event/party space, locker rooms
- Fitness/exercise spaces
- 3 gymnasiums (1 multi-purpose)
- Senior lounge
- Child watch
- E-sports room
- Walking/running track
- Program classrooms
- Multi-purpose room/ meeting space / outdoor deck
- Outdoor multi-purpose terrace
The building also includes approximately 40,000 square feet of leasable office space. The City is currently negotiating with the OSU Wexner Medical Center to lease the space in the building, adding additional services and amenities for the community.
If Upper Arlington City Council approves the final design and budget in March 2023, construction will begin in April 2023 and is anticipated to take approximately two years to complete, with a tentative Spring/Summer 2025 opening date. This construction timeframe may be impacted if construction materials supply chain disruptions continue or worsen.
The Community Center will be financed by combining long-term debt, accumulated City surpluses, and private donations. The primary repayment source for the debt will be Tax Increment Financing revenues generated by recent development projects in Upper Arlington. In 2021, City Council approved, and the voters endorsed this financing plan as part of the Community Center vote. The details of how much debt will be issued and how much of the City’s existing fund balance will be used to fund the construction will be determined once the final construction figures are known. Per the plan approved by Upper Arlington voters in May 2021, the debt for the Community Center portion of the project will not exceed $54 million. Debt for the private office portion of the project will be separate. As of mid-February 2023, the Upper Arlington Community Foundation has raised almost $8 million in private funds to support the construction of the Community Center.
After voters approved the Community Center project in May 2021, the City engaged a team to design (led by MSA Sport), construct (a partnership between Elford and Continental Building Systems) and manage (with Pizzuti Solutions acting as the City’s owner’s representative) the project. Early design work included extensive community engagement, revisiting the original feasibility study, and efforts to take the project from a program concept to a complete building design. Initially, the size of the building increased as more space was added for common areas, mechanical equipment, expansion of the fitness floor and storage.
However, dramatic changes in the construction market nationally and in central Ohio led to significant cost increases that exceeded the City’s financial capacity. The City worked with the design and construction teams to engage in a value engineering process that removed some lower-value spaces. The most important result of this value engineering process was that the team was able to remove one floor from the building and bring the facility below the threshold for high-rise construction standards. Additionally, the team worked to minimize the need for underground spaces, sought more efficient options for mechanical systems, and closely evaluated finish options in the building.
The result is a Community Center that is more efficient, concentrates on those uses that are most important to UA residents and is groundbreaking in its ability to provide a comprehensive set of indoor services without reducing a community’s greenspace.
Click Here to view the February 13, 2023 Presentation to City Council[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]