City acquires land for Rhodes, project moves forward

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — The City of Lima has reached a settlement concerning the purchase of the final parcels needed for Rhodes State College’s planned move its health science programs to the city’s downtown.

The downtown Rhodes project, which would create an educational space larger than a football field in the heart of the city, had been held up by eminent domain proceedings of four parcels of land located southwest of Lima’s town square. The owners of the parcels and the City of Lima, however, have now agreed to settle the legal troubles to give site control to the city.

“We now, in effect, have site control of all the parcels necessary for the project to proceed,” Mayor David Berger said.

Mediated under Judge Jeffrey Reed’s guidance, the agreed to cost of the land was $175,000.

The next steps of the $20 million project will be its first major planning stages. The project will be managed under the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and the official schedule of the project, such as the groundbreaking date, won’t be known until the major players of the project hash out the details, Rhodes State College President Dr. Debra McCurdy said. The project will be paid for with a mixture of state, college and private funds.

McCurdy expects the project will bring up to 500 students and faculty into the downtown area with the college’s inaugural year, but the facility will be designed with expansion in mind. Eventually, the college will draw a much wider range of students from a 25-county-wide area and establish Lima as a major center for the health care industry. McCurdy said the college is looking to partner with Lima’s major hospitals to begin the preparation of needed training programs for current and up-and-coming health care workers.

“This project should be a model, certainly for this area and hopefully for the state,” McCurdy said. “We are looking forward to turning that shovel.”

The new facility, called the Rhodes State College Center of Health Science Education and Innovation, has been a major lynchpin of the city’s downtown investment initiative, and the added foot traffic is expected to stimulate the downtown economy, bringing in retail, restaurants and entertainment facilities into the city center.

Mayor David Berger plans on transferring the land to Rhodes State during the April 23 meeting of Lima’s City Council.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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