The Ridges could see big changes under a proposed plan from Ohio University

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ATHENS Ohio, (WOUB) The Ridges could see a major transformation under a proposal created by Ohio University in partnership with regional development groups..

Members of the community look over plans for The Ridges put on cardboard displays on easels
Members of the community look over plan for The Ridges during a town hall meeting. [Jacob Motta | WOUB]
The $220 million proposed plan preserves The Ridges grounds and buildings while converting them into housing and commercial spaces.

For the past 30 years, Ohio University has been trying to figure out what to do with the original site of the Athens Lunatic Asylum. 

Ohio University’s Director of Real Estate Dominick Brook said he believes The Ridges has more potential. 

“The Ridges are underutilized,” he said. “The university has made substantial investments of over $30 million in the buildings that it’s utilizing, but there’s a lot of buildings that are vacant.”

The university occupies some of the buildings at The Ridges, turning buildings into spaces for classrooms, the Ohio University Police department and conference rooms, among other things. 

The Ridges Development Strategy leaves those buildings untouched and turns unused buildings into spaces for market rate housing, affordable graduate student housing, artisan housing and senior housing. 

It also accounts for 20,000 square feet of commercial space for potential businesses to open on site.

The plan, developed by Ohio University in partnership with the Buckeye Hills Regional Council and Community Building Partners, was presented to the public at two meetings this week. 

The Ohio University and Athens communities had the chance to sound off on the proposed plan.

Community Building Partners CEO Joe Recchie said he values transparency with the community and wants to be sure they know exactly what they are getting within the plan.

“It’s the repurposing of the historic buildings that are currently unused and compliments what Ohio University has successfully used,”he said.

The public has one more chance to voice their opinion on the plan at a third meeting set for March 24 from 2-4 p.m. on the second floor ofThe Ridges Building 14.

A final plan will be pitched to The Ridges board of trustees at the beginning of April.