COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – On a walk, through the top four floors of the Columbus Public Health (CPH) building you won’t see much besides big, open, and rundown hallways, and rooms. You might also come across old shelves and doors. On some of those doors, you might even find an old sign from when the building used to house the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“We’ve got space that we have issues with. We need more space,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner of Columbus Public Health.
The building first opened in the 1870s. Dr. Roberts estimates a lot of the space on floors three through six hasn’t been used since the 1980s. CPH moved into the building in 2001 and has been using the first two floors ever since.
“Here we are 20 years ahead of time now and we’ve grown a lot. Public health has expanded,” said Dr. Roberts.
Expansion plans were being discussed before the pandemic to include more space for violence prevention and addiction programs. Due to what’s been learned during the pandemic, Dr. Roberts said plans now include more room for staff and a permanent area for drive-thru services.
“We probably wouldn’t have designed it the way we want it to be designed now because we’ve learned so much during the pandemic,” said Dr. Roberts. “That became very apparent during the pandemic as something that was beneficial, and we want to be able to have a drive-thru location when we do the renovation so that we can so that we can continue to provide drive-thru service.”
This spring, City Council approved $1.1 million for the study and design of the top four floors. According to Dr. Roberts, that approval likely would have come sooner if it weren’t for COVID-19. She says construction estimates she’s seen are around $8- $10 million.
“It really makes public health feel like we’re relevant and we’re important and people value us. And they want to give us more space so we can do our job even better to protect health and improve the lives of everyone who lives in Columbus and Worthington,” she said.
Between the four top floors, there are about 73,000 square feet. Dr. Roberts says the project could be done by 2025.