New Albany, Ohio, to See New Performance Center

May 01--At a cost of $15 million, a building under construction in New Albany could become the standard by which every school auditorium is judged.

Work started last week on the New Albany Community Performing Arts Center, a $15 million, 750-seat assembly hall at the northwest corner of Rt. 62 and E. Dublin-Granville Road. When it opens in late 2007, the 35,000-square-foot center will be an auditorium for New Albany school students and a community arts house.

In 2001, New Albany-Plain Local School District voters approved a $38 million bond issue that was to include an auditorium for elementary and high-school students. But community leaders, recognizing the need for a local venue to accommodate guest lecturers and artists, saw an opportunity to do more.

"We felt it was silly to move down separate tracks," said Craig Mohre, president of the New Albany Community Foundation. "What if we all pool resources and do one facility of a higher quality? "

Mohre said the idea for the performing-arts center began after a lecture in 2002 by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough. That event was organized to raise money for a Columbus Metropolitan Library location in New Albany.

Held at the Wexner Party Barn, McCullough's speech raised more than $1.2 million and invigorated the student and village population, Mohre said.

"Students were buzzing about it months later," he said. "We had 17-year-olds talking about literature in our society."

Village officials created a tax-increment-financing district at the site of three housing developments. Over 30 years, the financing plan will raise more than $14 million, New Albany economic-development director Jennifer Chrysler said.

Of that total, $8 million will go through the village and Plain Township for the arts center. An additional $5 million will come from the school district's bond issue. The foundation is donating $2 million, and the New Albany Co. donated the land, which is valued at $1.5 million.

"It's one of the examples of how progressive the community is," Chrysler said.

In addition to the auditorium, which includes a balcony, the center will include a lobby, classrooms, a rehearsal studio, a dance studio, a scene shop and a partial fly loft, which is an area above the stage where scenery is stored.

Mohre said the foundation has raised $3 million to bring in guest lecturers and artists.

The school district, village and township will own the center jointly. They have hired Westlake, Reed & Leskosky to design the center. The firm created the master plan for Playhouse Square in Cleveland and also designed Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls.

Mount Carmel Medical Park

Mount Carmel last week began site work for a medical center on former Lucent Technologies land across E. Broad Street from Mount Carmel East Hospital.

Over the next 14 years, Mount Carmel Medical Park is expected to become a campus of six buildings. The plan is to construct two medical office buildings by 2009, one more by 2011 and three more by 2020.

The first project is a $9.2 million, 75,000-square-foot, three-story medical office building, being developed by the Daimler Group.

Brick - a - brac

-- Eddie Bauer has permission from its lenders to seek a sale of the Eddie Bauer Distribution Services warehouse in Groveport. The company emerged last year from Spiegel's bankruptcy proceedings, and now has 570 employees in the massive warehouse that used to house three businesses. An Eddie Bauer spokeswoman said no decisions have been made on whether to sell the building at 6600 Alum Creek Dr.

-- Healthcare Transaction Processing is doubling its employment count from 40 to 80 but moving into smaller space at 8720 Orion Place at Polaris Centers of Commerce. A better office configuration will help the fast-growing company, which received a tax break from the Ohio Department of Development pending the addition of 100 jobs in the next three years. The health-care company plans eventually to add 4,000 square feet of space.

[Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) (KRT) -- 05/02/06]