Middletown Council doesn’t have votes to decide future of $1.3B Hollywoodland

Credit: Journal News

Combined ShapeCaption
Proposed $1.3 billion "Hollywoodland" project in Middletown

Credit: Journal News

After hearing the thoughts from about 20 Middletown residents, most of whom said they don’t support the proposed Hollywoodland $1.3 billion entertainment and destination complex, City Council didn’t have the necessary three members Thursday night to vote on the project.

The five-person council was scheduled to vote during the special meeting on the legislation or table a decision until Dec. 7 to allow developer Main Street Community Capital LLC additional time to meet with residents and answer their concerns.

ExploreRELATED: $1.3 billion Hollywoodland project called a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to transform Middletown

Councilwomen Monica Nenni and Ami Vitori, both owners of downtown businesses, said they’re waiting for a ruling from the Ohio Ethics Commission on whether they should vote on the legislation.

Vice Mayor Joe Mulligan said he planned to recuse himself from voting because his family owns property on South Main Street near where the project is proposed.

Only Mayor Nicole Condrey and Tal Moon appeared ready to vote. Condrey said she was against the plan and Moon had indicated earlier he supported the project that was expected to bring 3.5 million visitors annually to the city.

Now, it’s unclear when council will vote on the proposal.

“It’s really frustrating,” Condrey said. “We will punt it.”

Combined ShapeCaption
"Hollywoodland" development plan in Middletown compared to what is in those locations now.

"Hollywoodland" development plan in Middletown compared to what is in those locations now.

Combined ShapeCaption
"Hollywoodland" development plan in Middletown compared to what is in those locations now.

At the end of the meeting when no vote was taken, several people who packed the Council Chambers yelled the issue should be voted on after two members of council are elected on Nov. 2.

A statement from the city, in part, read: “City of Middletown Charter requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of City Council to adopt (or to deny) any piece of legislation. No such majority was obtained this evening, therefore no action will be taken on this matter unless the legislation is included on a future Middletown City Council meeting agenda and acted on by a majority.”

ExploreRELATED: ‘Hollywoodland’: What’s there now, what would change for $1.3B development?

City Manager Jim Palenick said the city would use $7.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds and would combine that with financial support from the state. City Council approved spending $250,000 in March on a redevelopment study to determine whether a large-scale, hospitality and destination entertainment-focused project could be “economically viable and sustainable,” the city said.

The city expects to spend $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 Hollywoodland concept is the first for Main Street, which plans to build several similar projects, said David Elias-Rachie, one of the principles.

The Hollywoodland development is expected to 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, brewpubs, and cafes, and a likely comedy club.
  • Integrated fashion, electronic, lifestyle, convenience, and recreational retail.

SOURCE City of Middletown.

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