The Ridges is set to undergo more than $15 million in construction, renovation and demolition to make room for several new offices in the coming year.
Under plans approved by the Ohio University Board of Trustees, Buildings 13, 14 and 18 at The Ridges will undergo renovations to accommodate administrative offices that are currently housed in the West Union Street Office Center and Human Resources Training Center.
According to a university news release, the West Union and HR buildings will be repurposed to address “critical academic needs.” Together, the buildings account for at least $24 million in deferred maintenance.
Deferred maintenance refers to the backlog of major maintenance projects that, if postponed and unfunded, will become increasingly more expensive.
The Ridges renovations are projected to cost the university more than $13 million, with an additional $215,322 for the installation of a new walking path, about $750,000 to develop a new parking lot and $1.8 million for the demolition of Building 20.
Building 20 was identified by the committee as a “non-contributing building” and will be replaced with green space and additional parking.
“It’s very important to us that we ensure that we’re maintaining the historic integrity of The Ridges while also ensuring appropriate pathways for accessibility,” Ridges Advisory Committee member Pam Callahan said.
New occupants of The Ridges could include the Ohio University Police Department, as well as the offices of design and construction, finance, architecture and university planning.
Originally, the Framework Plan identified Tier 1 land, north of Dairy Lane but south of the land lab, as a potential location for housing development. When community members expressed concern, however, the committee reconsidered.
“We heard various community concerns about development on Tier 1 land at The Ridges, and we worked collaboratively to address them,” Vice President for University Planning Shawna Bolin said. “One of the best parts of The Ridges Framework Plan is that it isn’t a rigid document. It allows for collaborations, contributions and approvals on future opportunities as plans for this valuable and historic area evolve.”
During a December meeting, members of the advisory committee had conflicting opinions on the potential for allowing dog-walking on the land. While Callahan proposed the idea of building an area for dogs, Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer was skeptical.
“You have to understand the cost of creating the trails and creating the pond in a very constrained fiscal environment,” Shaffer said. “I often think (dollars) are small. And I’m wrong.”
Committee members also discussed the potential for constructing bike trails on undeveloped land — which Bolin said was “very much situated” for that kind of use.
Both developed and undeveloped areas of The Ridges are being considered for potential housing development, although Bolin stressed that the plan is only “visionary” and nothing is set in stone.
“An investment in these facilities means we can show that they are usable and that other projects can come from that,“ Bolin said.