When billionaire Les Wexner decided to break-ground and build his mansion, rapid progress followed. And even though the city lacks deep history, New Albany flew to the top practically instantaneously. Who knew the outskirted boons of Columbus could become home to the number one suburb in America in 2015?
Steller schools, Abercrombie & Fitch, striving for healthy lifestyles, pimped-out homes, local businesses, and parks galore; this American Dream city is a mere 20-minute drive from downtown, a refreshing turn from the bustling atmosphere of city center.
They haven’t even begun to peak, though. New Albany is growing, and their monumental achievements have, and probably always will, make them stand out amongst the Central Ohio ’burbs.
Before the miles of walking paths, white fences, and mini-mansions covered New Albany, there really wasn’t much. Originally founded in 1837 by settlers named Nobel Landon and William Yantis, the two split the land and began selling it off to new arrivers. The growth was slow, by 1856 only 50 residents occupied the area. But then then women took charge.
The rise of women showing individuality and power in the 1920s paid off for local resident Mrs. Edward Babbitt, she took the title of the first female mayor in the small village in 1922. And she got busy; new business went up, and the New Albany School of Plain Township was constructed. Drinks up to that feminist.
Still, the progress was sluggish. In 1980, roughly 400 residents were skipping through the streets with only one full-time cop, and a mayor who won with just 48 votes. But you know what always kicks starts a lethargic economy? A billionaire. Thus bringing us to the current state of New Albany.
Today, New Albany is an inclusive, welcoming community who opens their arms to curious visitors. Their local statistics will make you want to move there today, and their events and community motto will make you feel even younger and spunkier than you are now. And when you got cash, dish it out; thanks to the contributions of the Wexner family, a successful and glamorous suburb now exists in our cozy midwestern state.
The general statics from 2015 makes New Albany sounds like the perfect spot to raise a family. The crime rate is as low as .5 percent and the poverty rate is only 1.2 percent. It make sense though; for those 25 years or older, around 99 percent have a high school diploma and about 76 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
And with stats like that, of course their schools are stellar. Their public schools not only look like a prestigious private college with Georgian architecture, but the kids walking through the halls could trump us at any debate.
“Education has been the number one priority in New Albany since the beginning,” said Cherie Nelson, executive director of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce. “Our learning environment is unique in the state of Ohio, with Georgian school buildings on a 120-acre campus, connected by tree-lined walkways and surrounded by an 80-acre nature preserve. Our school superintendent, Michael Sawyers cares deeply about academic achievement, fiscal responsibility and community engagement. We all pride ourselves in New Albany on being lifelong learners.”
They were ranked the number 455 public school district in the country, out of more than 2,500, due to their performance on state-required tests and how well the kids are prepared for college.
You better have some dough if you’re thinking about making the move. The average home price is around $450,000 and some clock in at 10,000-square-feet.
Well, you’re paying for security—and being part one of the healthiest communities in the country, too.
Since the entire suburb has unofficially agreed that staying fit and active is a requirement for residents, they decided to start up the largest walking-only race in America. Assembled by the New Albany Walking Club and Healthy New Albany, an organization that promotes the community to have an active way-of-life, this day-long event has been running (or should we say walking) for 13 years now. Only 3000 participants are allowed, and spots sell out early for the September 17 affair.
Some jokingly refer to New Albany as Wexley, a punny reference that combines the high-lifestyle of Bexley with the local resident Leslie Wexner, who practically built the community into what it is today. Rumor has it that Wexner spotted the lot while crusing in his Land
Rover and had a vision—a vision to build a roughly a $47 million mansion.
Pocket change for the man now claiming a net worth of $6.2 billion. And just like in business, Wexner was a trailblazer when it came to community.
“He foresaw a community with core values of education, culture, wellness and leisure,” said Nelson. “Residents and businesses in New Albany care about being engaged and active when it comes to those values—that’s what gives us that special sense of community.”
And in an annual highlight to that special community, Wexner and his wife Abigail open their abode and host the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix and Family Day, aka Horse Classic. Get your fascinators ready—the 20th Classic will be held September 25. Oh, and
Nick Jonas will be performing. No big deal.
Since they do host an epic walking race every year, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the community has stretches of walking paths, parks, and a very personalized workout facility.
The area of New Albany has approximately 600 acres of parkland, 900 acres of greenland and 30 miles of leisure paths, so you have no reason to sit around and be a bum. And if you’re looking for a challenge, the New Albany Country Club features 27 holes designed by the Jack Nicklaus.
It doesn’t stop, it’s almost impossible to be out of shape in New Albany. Local resident and health guru, Philip Heit helped kickstart not only the Columbus Marathon, the New Albany Walking Club and the New Albany Walking Classic, but basically established the entire motto of healthy living in the community.
“Phil Heit is the visionary behind creating the Healthy New Albany organization, which touches thousands of people through outstanding community programming, a community magazine, lecture series, community garden and farmer’s’ market,” said Nelson. “He sincerely cares about helping people improve their health and their lives.”
He is also a huge contributor to the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, a center that offers a wealth of wellness activities throughout the community, personalized workouts with the help of Ohio State, and medical attention like physical therapy, sports medicine and orthopedics.
New Albany is still streaking toward the stars. New residential spaces have been consistently built for the past few years, and this year a new complex is underway. The Town Center Apartments are right on main street, and are marketed towards older folks and millennials.
“So many incredible endeavors began with a resident and their idea, and taking initiative to organize and execute a vision,” said Nelson. “The city, the township, the chamber, the schools, and the community foundation are always there to help launch and support residents working toward the betterment of our community.”
But the busy construction isn’t deplenishing the luscious green spaces throughout New Albany. If anything, people are becoming so attached to the whimsical outdoor areas, they want to get married there. In December of this year, The Estate at New Albany is planning on opening their doors to party-planning guests. Tie the knot inside the contemporary, barn-like venue, or on the surrounding five acres of land where intricate landscaping, a private garden, and a serene pond will make the perfect backdrop.
“New Albany residents have and continue to shape this community in positive ways,” said Nelson. “It’s not just about the Georgian architecture and world-class amenities—it’s about the people.”
The New Albany food scene offers many of the usual Central Ohio suspects—a Rusty Bucket is just feet away from a Mellow Mushroom, and Roosters isn’t far either. But, as the culinary scene expands, there are an increasing number of other local options in your backyard.
7148 Town Market Lane E
You wanna play volleyball? Awesome. You wanna jump in a round of pool? Great. You wanna grab a plate of tots smothered in cheese and fried pickles? Even better. The Goat serves up entertainment and good food every day. With an extensive drink menu, late night options, and even a volleyball league, this is the kind of place you want to become a regular at.
Hudson 29 Kitchen + Drink
260 Market St.
This place was named the best neighborhood restaurant in New Albany by you guys, and we weren’t surprised. American cuisine, a solid happy hour menu, and cozy atmosphere makes this place perfect for a nice dinner or lunch. Their prime rib, sandwiches, and sushi, are sure to impress everyone in your party.
FireFly American Bistro
5525 New Albany Rd. W
FireFly covers our three main food groups well: pasta, pizza, and burgers. The restaurant’s concept was inspired by a night catching fireflies lakeside with family. Get the whole crew together for an Italian meat pizza and some pita and dip. Make sure you check their daily specials before going too!
9745 Johnstown Rd.
Margaritas anyone? This place has 14 to choose from. Go between 3 and 7 p.m. for specials on jumbo margs and pitchers too. They offer the classic Mexican fare you’d expect, and they strive for fresh ingredients and a homey atmosphere. Perfect for a fun night out or a dinner with the family.
2 N High St.
A great place to chill out after work or grab a stack of pies to take back to the team. This new Albany staple was named after the high school mascot and has been around with just a few different owners since the ’60s. If pizza isn’t your thing (weirdo), Eagles offers subs, salads, and spaghetti too.