Editorial: City View District plan takes key step forward

It’s not every day that a major institution in a community sets out to transform nearly 700 acres of near-town farmland with a new hospital, housing, retail and more.

But Columbus Regional Health has been demonstrating “The Columbus Way” in its open and inclusive approach to thoughtfully presenting its long-term vision for a prime piece of real estate. As Brooklyn native and Director of the Columbus-based Indiana University J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program T. Kelly Wilson once said of our city’s approach to its built environment, “This little town has been punching above its weight forever.”

The most recent example of that spirit is evident in the plans for City View District. You can link to these plans in full at columbus.in.gov/planning/columbus-current-projects. Columbus City Council on Sept. 5 voted to adopt the City View District Plan as an element of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The Republic’s Jana Wiersema has been covering these developments from the time the first drawings were formally unveiled for public view in May, and she provided this overview:

“The City View District Plan addresses the site also known as the Garden City Farms property, which stretches east-to-west from Interstate 65 almost to State Road 11/Jonesville Road, and is south of the westside Walmart and north of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds. The approximately 690-acre site is owned by CRH.”

The city council’s vote to incorporate the City View District Plan into its Comprehensive Plan is a significant and meaningful step. But it’s also just one of many to come. CRH Vice President of Strategic Facilities Planning and Operations David Lenart told council members that the project timeline is in excess of 10 years.

That also is something you don’t see every day: An entity as important to the community as CRH actively partnering with the city and local stakeholders to proceed in a cooperative spirit of common good. As we said, The Columbus Way.

Council members had some good questions for Lenart, including what will become of the current hospital campus on 17th Street when a new hospital opens. Lenart said that hasn’t been decided yet. This also is an area where the community can, should and will have a voice in shaping the future. There will be plenty of opportunities for the public to participate and express their views as this development progresses over the next decade-plus.

People in our community will have plenty of questions for years to come as CRH pursues a course to situate itself to serve generations to come. But we would like to take this opportunity to observe that CRH has shown itself to be an open book as it charts its future course, and we believe the organization also has demonstrated praiseworthy stewardship by involving and informing the public from the outset.