The Towne Mall, once a vibrant shopping center in the east end of Middletown, now offers Planet Fitness, Gabe’s, Burlington and a few dining and retail stores on the outlot.
That would change if a project secures funding and attracts a developer. Middletown City Manager Jim Palenick said the next step would be to find developers who could build the housing and indoor recreation/entertainment sections of the project.
He envisions 200 to 300 apartments, a hockey rink that would attract youth tournaments and complement Spooky Nook in Hamilton and offer go-kart racing.
Steve Morales a partner with RINKA, said his firm has been working with City of Middletown staff, the Warren County Port Authority and George Ragheb, the California-based owner of the mall, for the last 16 weeks.
“This plan is buildable today,” he told council members.
“It all works,” Morales said. “There is a roadmap here.”
He would like to see the mall opened up and include a Gateway Plaza on one end and a North Plaza on the opposite end. There would be green space throughout the plaza with area for trees, splash pads, entertainment venues and dining options, he said.
Morales said the mall has the potential to be “a true destination.”
According to the conceptual renderings, RINKA envisions tearing down part of the mall, repurposing some sections and building some structures. Palenick said the former Elder-Beerman store could be converted into the indoor go-kart track and hockey rink.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The design of the site includes five design drivers:
- Reconfigure site access for better arrival experience.
- Create pedestrian-focused streetscapes that create a well-connected experience.
- Repurpose existing mall structure to reduce cost of the project.
- Provide family-friendly outdoor gathering spaces.
- Attract retail, food and beverage, and entertainment destinations to promote a mixed-use neighborhood.