The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Mar. 1, 2024

Master planning phase of DT project starts

VW independent/submitted information

The next phase of the Van Wert Forward initiative is the master planning process, and the Van Wert County Foundation has contracted with OHM Advisors from Columbus to guide the downtown Van Wert redevelopment master plan — which recently began with a steering committee meeting laying the groundwork for this months-long process.

OHM Advisors is a community advancement firm designing award-winning work across the architecture, engineering, and planning spheres. The company’s leaders state they believe that something incredible grows out of a team of experts with individual specialization — ideas with a more significant impact. 

Whether OHM Advisors is creating public spaces or regulations, plans, or community identities — it takes a holistic approach to analysis, policy, and design to shape, preserve, and make places better for people. As community development experts who have worked extensively on behalf of public and private sector clients, OHM Advisors knows that lasting solutions are never one-dimensional and must align with community values and vision. 

For the Van Wert project, OHM Advisors has joined forces with Epic Small, a sole-proprietor consulting firm dedicated to helping communities harness the power of small-scale, place-making projects that build momentum and motivate change. People want to see and be a part of making improvements to where they live. With close to 10 years of experience, Epic Small works with communities to “do more” and “talk less”. Epic Small believes in empowering regular people to make extraordinary improvements to their communities. 

Small Nation also joins the team to provide insight on community branding and wayfinding as well as the ability to craft comprehensive strategies for tenant recruitment, development, and retention that could add to the long-term viability of downtown Van Wert. 

The first and most critical step was creating a steering committee, getting its members into the conversation, and helping map out what everyone would like to see from this plan. The first meeting was June 19 at Wassenberg Art Center. 

The Steering Committee has local leadership representation from economic development organizations, city and county government, and business entities. Steering committee members are: Stacy Adam, Seth Baker, Hall Block, Gary Clay, Jay Fleming, Cindy Hurless, Chuck Koch, Thad Lichtensteiger, Ken Markward, Bill Marshall, Amanda Miller, Mitch Price, Adam Ries, Chet Straley, Joanne Thatcher, Mark Verville, and Hope Wallace. 

The meeting was an introduction of OHM Advisors, Epic Small, and Small Nation to steering committee members, an overview of the planning process and what it hopes to accomplish, setting up future meeting dates and formats, and brainstorming ideas for the future of Downtown Van Wert! 

Public meetings are set for August and October, depending on COVID-19 guidelines. The goal of the public meetings is to gather ideas on issues, opportunities, and priorities, then provide an overview of the planning process and critical findings, present the planning framework, and engage the public in a series of activities to gain feedback on the plan elements. 

Van Wert Forward is vision-driven by The Van Wert County Foundation. Van Wert Forward’s mission is to redevelop the downtown area for future economic development and investment by creating new multi-use properties that attract people to our community. The Foundation is committed to a bright future for the community, and it is collaborating enthusiastically to make this vision a reality. Together, the Foundation and its partners bring experience and commitment to downtown revitalization. Visit for more information. 

POSTED: 06/29/20 at 10:11 pm. FILED UNDER: News