News and Announcements

OHIO's Board of Trustees endorses strategy for the rehabilitation and development of The Ridges

Today, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved a resolution allowing advisors for The Ridges Development Strategy to pursue the establishment of a New Community Authority that would work to preserve historic buildings at The Ridges through development benefitting the local community.

The approval follows Board discussions on Thursday, January 19 with representatives from Ohio University and the Ridges Development Advisors, a partnership between Buckeye Hills Regional Council and Community Building Partners that provided an overview of The Ridges Development Strategy, which is intended to guide opportunities for future development, rehabilitation, reuse and preservation of The Ridges’ Kirkbride campus and the surrounding land owned by the University.

It is important to note that, while the Board’s approval is an important first step in moving the New Community Authority forward, continued collaborations and discussions with the City of Athens, Athens County, the State of Ohio and the surrounding community will take place before it could be finalized.

The establishment of the New Community Authority is a vital part of The Ridges Development Strategy, which focuses on opportunities for the adaptive rehabilitation and reuse of the historic buildings at The Ridges and to best identify opportunities for future development.

Ohio University Director of Real Estate Dominick Brook noted that the establishment of the New Community Authority could also provide increased avenues for stewardship and community reinvestment across the historic space.

“For the past 18 months, the Ridges Development Advisors have engaged in numerous planning, research and stakeholder engagement activities to not only help create a feasible strategy to rehabilitate the Ridges and identify development opportunities that could be available at The Ridges, but to ensure they equally align with the needs of the larger community as well,” said Brook.

The primary goal of The Ridges Development Strategy is to consider the implementation of external investments and non-university use elements as noted within the 2015 Ridges Framework Plan while also assuring that stewardship, rehabilitation and the preservation of The Ridges remain at the forefront of all future development efforts and collaborations.

The Ridges Development Strategy continues to progress through a combination of stakeholder feedback and the evolving needs of Ohio University, Athens and the surrounding region. Additionally, all future development opportunities, including the creation of a New Community Authority, would require continued collaborations and discussions with the Ohio University Board of Trustees, the City of Athens, Athens County, the State of Ohio and the surrounding community before moving forward.

Community invited to learn more, share feedback during town hall meetings

OHIO will host multiple town hall sessions at the Ridges to share more about The Ridges Development Strategy and provide an opportunity for community feedback and discussion in the coming months.

Scheduled town hall dates include:  

Town Hall #1 and #2
Date: February 21, 2023
Location: The Ridges Building 14 Room 170

  • Town hall for University Community: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Town hall for Athens Community: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Town Hall #3
Date: March 24, 2023
Location: The Ridges Building 14 Room 170

  • Town hall for all University and Athens Community members: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
About The Ridges

The Ridges is an approximately 700-acre property owned by Ohio University sitting across the Hocking River from the University’s campus core in Athens. The property was originally opened in the early 1800s as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, and the vacant property was transferred to Ohio University by the state in 1993.

OHIO has led numerous improvement and renovation efforts since The Ridges was transferred to the University by the state in 1993, and more than $28 million has been invested since 2015 to provide numerous opportunities for the historic space to be utilized for a variety of purposes by the University, including classrooms, research labs, cultural facilities and more.

Stewardship by numerous community volunteers continues to play an important role in OHIO’s overall efforts at The Ridges, and the fostering of tree and trail preservation and helping to fund efforts that provide building improvements to community spaces are the result of such collaborative efforts.

Today, the Ridges also houses the Ohio Museum Complex and Kennedy Museum of Art, the Child Development Center, an observatory and other academic programs inclusive of classrooms, labs, art studios, an auditorium, offices and more.

January 19, 2023
Staff reports