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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Daniel Sui

The Ohio State University’s Department of Geography and Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) will undertake a study of sustainable community redevelopment in Columbus’ Greater Hilltop Area in partnership with U-Haul International Inc., which will provide support and funding of the study.

"This project is an excellent example of a university-industry partnership helping local communities to achieve the goals of urban sustainable development,” said Mershon affiliate Daniel Sui, geography chair and professor.

“For years, U-Haul has been a corporate leader in supporting sustainability research and outreach and we are delighted to work with them to revitalize one of the most depressed areas in the city of Columbus.”

Sui and Maria Manta Conroy, associate director of CURA and professor of city and regional planning, will focus on the potential role that different development strategies can have in contributing to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Greater Hilltop community.

U-Haul Company's interest in the project stems from its plans to redevelop the former Meijer grocery store which has stood vacant since 2008. U-Haul, which plans to turn the former grocery store into a self-storage facility through adaptive reuse, will explore ways in which corporate economic development can contribute to community sustainability.

“U-Haul is committed to the many communities we serve and we are dedicated to being socially responsible,” said Stuart Shoen, executive vice president, U-Haul International, Inc. “We support Ohio State’s research because it will allow us to evaluate and enhance the programs we have in place that provide benefits to the environment, economy and resilience of a community.”

Sui and Conroy’s research will focus on U-Haul Company's construction process during the redevelopment of the former Meijer store and the impact the location will have on the community as a result of this process and the services it will provide.

Adaptive reuse generally refers to the redevelopment of any existing building for a purpose different from its original use. U-Haul employs adaptive reuse as its standard template for expanding its service footprint – most notably with large and historic building reuse projects in the Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Tampa communities. 

The benefits of adaptive reuse on a community can be both large and measurable. For example, employing adaptive reuse in the U-Haul Moving and Storage New Center location in Detroit is estimated to have prevented 600 tons of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) from being emitted into the environment by foregoing unnecessary construction activities. 

Other complementary sustainability strategies that U-Haul includes in its practices are the use of permeable parking surfaces, accommodations for mass transit and the use of energy efficient lighting.

"Many corporations only pay lip service to sustainability and green business practices,” said Conroy. “U-Haul is a corporate giant that puts sustainable development into practice.”

For more information, contact Dan Sui, professor and chair, Department of Geography.