$1.3B Hollywoodland project ‘as it was proposed is no longer being worked on,’ says city manager

A proposed $1.3 billion riverfront destination entertainment district and theme park project in Middletown appears to be dead, though City Manager Jim Palenick carefully chose his words when asked about the project’s future at the end of Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Mayor Nicole Condrey asked council members to take an official vote on Hollywoodland at the next council meeting. That way, she said, residents would quit asking about Hollywoodland and council could focus on “impactful projects.”

Nicole, against Hollywoodland from the outset, said the city has “really great things on our doorstep” and she wanted to “provide some clarity” to the public.

Palenick said Hollywood “as it was proposed is no longer being worked on. We are not going to bring it to you. There is no need to vote on it.”

Then he added: “The project, in that location, at this time, is not something we are working on, not something we are pursuing.”

City council never voted on the project that was proposed at the end of last year. There was discussion about delaying a vote until the new council members Zack Ferrell and Rodney Muterspaw were seated after the November election.

The project came under extreme opposition from Middletown residents, especially those who live in the Historic District near the project.

David Elias-Rachie, one of the principles of Main Street Community, the developers, said the company planned to build several similar projects once Middletown’s was completed.

Hollywoodland would have been 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 had 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.

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.

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