State approves brownfield grant for Towne Mall redevelopment project

A proposed redevelopment of the Towne Mall Galleria in Middletown took another step forward as the state of Ohio awarded a $1 million brownfield remediation grant to the Warren County Port Authority which is leading the project.

The brownfield remediation grant for the Middletown project was part of a $60 million package of grants awarded to a number of communities statewide and announced by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted on Tuesday. The state provided the brownfield remediation grants to 78 communities.

The brownfield remediation grants are designed to assist with fixing up vacant sites that have fallen into disrepair.

ExploreWarren County Port Authority seeks state grant for Middletown sports project

Towne Mall Galleria, located just off the Interstate 75/Ohio 122 interchange, the city’s front door, is expected to be redeveloped as the Middletown Entertainment and Sports Venue. Part of that plan calls for an electric go-kart racing area inside the complex.

In January, Warren County commissioners approved about $73,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding toward a feasibility and marketing study to determine the size and scope of the project, said Martin Russell, deputy county administrator and executive director of the Warren County Port Authority.

One of the goals would be to bring a North American Hockey League Tier 2 junior hockey franchise as a tenant at the proposed sports and entertainment facility, Russell said in January.

Officials want to make a “go/no-go” decision this fall to pursue the financing, design and construction of the sports and entertainment venue as a destination anchor to the Towne Mall redevelopment.

Acting Middletown City Manager Paul Lolli said the city is awaiting the completion of a marketing and feasibility assessment study that is expected sometime in mid-May.

Warren County has also applied for a $500,000 grant from the state for demolition and remediation grant that is also match free.

Russell said the impact of the brownfield remediation grant assists “getting rid of the old and making way for the new.”

“It aides in taking everything back to ‘raw land,’” he said. “It also allows and expedites the project to be accomplished.”

Russell said the proposed Middletown sports and entertainment venue would be able to tie into to the efforts at the Warren County Sports Complex off Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp. that attracted about 1 million visitors and participants to its youth sports fields in its first year.

Last year, the city of Middletown contracted RINKA to do a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Towne Mall property.

Community Center Partners was hired to do pre-development planning, evaluation, economic structuring and design effort on the proposal for a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue, Middletown officials.

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