5 things to know about the proposed $1.3 billion Hollywoodland project in Middletown

City Council expected to vote Thursday whether to delay vote on project until December

Middletown City Council is expected to vote Thursday night during a special meeting whether to delay voting until Dec. 7 on a proposed $1.3 billion riverfront destination entertainment district and theme park.

The proposed developers of the project, Main Street Community Capital, have asked council to delay the vote so they can meet with residents to answer some of their concerns.

At the last two council meetings, about 30 Middletown residents have said they don’t support the project for various reasons.

What would be included in the project?

Hollywoodland would be located on nearly 12 acres of city-owned land off Water Street and First Avenue and on 41 acres owned by Forest Hills Country Club.

The city said the project would include a destination Marriott hotel and attached, publicly owned convention center with roof-top bar, themed restaurant and assorted amenities; a second, family-oriented hotel and water park; a third, historic, boutique hotel located within the adaptively-redeveloped First National Bank building; a major, indoor entertainment and concert venue for large, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and touring Broadway productions; an indoor amusement park containing multiple, themed entertainment-based rides, virtual reality experiences, immersive entertainment opportunities and integrated retail, food and beverage; structured and integrated underground deck-based publicly-owned parking with more than 3,000 spaces.; on-site, mid-rise, luxury, market-rate apartment units and/or condominiums; permanent, pre-and post-production motion picture studio sound stages and support offices and infrastructure; multiple, restaurants, bars, brew-pubs, and cafes, and a likely comedy club; integrated fashion, electronic, lifestyle, convenience, and recreational retail.

The Hollywoodland concept is the first for Main Street Community Capital, that plans to build several similar projects, said David Elias-Rachie, one of the principles.

Cost of the project?

The project would cost an estimated $1.3 billion to build.

What happens next?

City Council will either vote of the legislation on Thursday night or delay the vote until Dec. 7. Mayor Nicole Condrey, who has said she’s against the project, believes council should vote on the legislation on Thursday. The project, if approved by city council, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, the city said.

How many people would the project attract?

The city has estimated that about 3.5 million people would annually visit the attractions, about the same that attended Kings Island in 2019. Mary Huttlinger, executive director of the Middletown Visitors Bureau, said 3.5 million visitors would generate about $591 million in economic impact locally.

She called the investment “mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to transform Middletown and create economic success and growth for future generations.

What’s the cost to the city?

City Manager Jim Palenick said the city would utilize $7.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds and would combine that with financial support from the state.

Late last year, the city started focusing attention on the transformational redevelopment of the city-owned 10.98-acre area along the riverfront. City Council approved spending $250,000 in March on a redevelopment study to determine if a large-scale, hospitality and destination entertainment-focused project could be “economically viable and sustainable,” the city said.

The city expects to spend expend $700,000 to $800,000 more in legal, engineering, lobbying, and professional consulting services and activities in support of the public improvements, according to the staff report.

The city will have no financial obligations and there will be no local taxes, Elias-Rachie said. In comparison, he said, Spooky Nook, the mega sports complex in Hamilton, was a $144 million project and taxpayers are responsible for $20 million.

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