A Christian organization is planning a $200 million development and headquarters in Reynoldsburg that one city official says will make the suburb a destination.
“It’s a huge catalyst for the city as a whole,” said Andrew Bowsher, development director for the
city of Reynoldsburg.
He sees the proposed development — envisioned as a mix of retail, restaurants, a hotel, an event center, green space and apartments — as something that will draw people to Reynoldsburg in the way that
Bridge Park and Grandview Yard bring people to Dublin and Grandview Heights, respectively.
What makes it even better for the city, Bowsher said, is that the developer — the
Christian and Missionary Alliance — will not just sell the property once it’s built up; it wants to be a part of the community for years to come.
The evangelical Christian denomination, currently headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is in the process of purchasing four parcels of land totaling about 15 acres on the corner of Brice Road and Main Street in Reynoldsburg for its new headquarters. Alliance officials declined to disclose the purchase price, which was not publicly available.
The plan is for the group to have about 90,000 square feet of office space and an event venue in a new three- or four-story building that will take the place of a now-vacant Kmart building it plans to demolish, said Robb Childs, an alliance official who is working on the relocation.
“We have a heart to be an active part of the community. We’re just super excited to become part of the fabric of that community — to help the community take off and benefit from it as well,” Childs said.
In Colorado Springs, the alliance is largely set apart from the community, as it’s in an office park, he said. At its new home, the group wants to change things by creating a mixed-use neighborhood around its headquarters.
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The alliance looked at more than 100 sites in the country for its national headquarters, but was drawn to Reynoldsburg for many reasons, including its proximity to many of its churches, closeness to a large airport and multiethnic population.
Now, with plans to close on the old Kmart property next month and offers on three adjoining lots, the alliance is excited about the possibility of constructing its new home, Childs said.
While Bowsher admits that plans could change, the existing proposal for the land includes three four- or five-story buildings with boulevards connecting them; a large green space similar to the
John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons Downtown; and a pedestrian-friendly environment. Reynoldsburg also is working with the city of Columbus to create a park space across Brice Road.
There will be about 100,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, 700,000 square feet of office space, townhomes and more.
“We don’t want it to be a pass-through. We want it to be a destination,” Bowsher said. “It’s about revitalizing and cleaning up a city that desperately needs it.
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“We feel this is going to be an activated space with high levels of pedestrian traffic,” he continued. “It’s going to be urban and walkable.”
There’s also a nearby
Columbus Metropolitan Library branch at 1402 Brice Road, which has a new two-story building slated to be done in 2023. The library and the development have similar start times, Bowsher said, with both being demolished this fall and construction planned to start in the spring of 2022. About the Christian and Missionary Alliance
The Christian and Missionary Alliance, which officially became a denomination in 1974, started after a Presbyterian pastor began welcoming immigrants into his New York City church in the late 1800s, much to the dismay of some congregants.
Because of that, the pastor got a vision to start a church where immigrants and overlooked people were welcome and could be cared for, said Peter Burgo, director for media relations with the alliance.
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As the pastor cared for immigrants through the new church, he developed a desire to spread the Gospel in their home countries. The church expanded into a worldwide evangelization movement, and the alliance was born.
The group has approximately 700 missionaries in 70 countries, and its work is largely funded by the 2,000 churches and approximately 440,000 people who are members of the denomination in the United States. Throughout the world, there are 24,000 member congregations and 6.3 million people are alliance members, Burgo said.
The Cross Walk Church is an alliance church, and in nearby Blacklick is another alliance member, Peniel Ethiopian Evangelical Church. Why Reynoldsburg?
About 40 percent of the alliance’s congregations in the United States are multicultural, Burgo said, which is part of the reason it’s moving to Central Ohio.
The denomination is aware of the diverse population in Columbus — including a large population of Bhutanese-Nepali refugees in Reynoldsburg — and wants to reach out to immigrants and refugees in the area, as well as other multicultural and multiethnic communities, he said.
In addition, Columbus is well situated geographically when it comes to the alliance’s churches. About 800 member congregations are within one day’s drive from Reynoldsburg, according to Burgo. Compare that to its current Colorado Springs building, where only about 75 congregations are that close, Childs said.
Another reason for the move is the rise in the cost of living that has happened of late in Colorado Springs, Childs said.
‘A very warm welcome’
If the project is fully built out the way it is designed, it will be a $200 million development, Bowsher said.
The city expects it will bring in about 200 jobs total from the development — including retail, restaurants and those coming with the alliance — when it is complete in five to 10 years. The organization currently has 110 employees. Some staff members will continue working remotely indefinitely from Colorado Springs.
The first 30 staff members are arriving locally this summer, Childs said, and the alliance president, John Stumbo, already has moved to Blacklick. Others from Colorado will come over the next 18 months to two years, Childs said.
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Bowsher said he is excited about the partnership with the alliance. Although he admits he was skeptical at first when he heard a nonprofit was visiting the site as a potential buyer back in September — when he first met the group — he now believes they are a perfect fit to develop the land and that the city and the alliance share a vision.
“I don’t know if we would’ve gotten exactly what we needed with a private developer,” Bowsher said. “I know it’s in the right hands.”
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He’s said he’s also been impressed by the fact that the alliance wants to be involved in the city beyond building there. Already, church officials have been asking where they can volunteer and how they can help, he said.
“They’re not just a nameless entity that’s there to make money or to build buildings,” he said. “They’re there with a purpose and a mission, and they not only want to raise Reynoldsburg but raise their own organization and own footprint and make what we’re trying to do even that much more important.”