Hamilton approves significant financing for Spooky Nook complex

City Council members unanimously approved key pieces of financing for the $144 million Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill that hopes to open by Dec. 31, 2021.

In a meeting marked by coronavirus precautions — every other seat was marked as one not to be used so the audience was spaced out — City Manager Joshua Smith observed the promise of the gigantic indoor sports complex will be a rebound from when the former Champion Paper mill on North B Street permanently closed in 2012.

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“It really takes us back to 2011, when Smart Paper, which was the successor of Champion Paper, took over the former Champion site, and I remember those days being very dark for us, as we had many conversations about what to do about what was once our largest private employer in the city of Hamilton, and that employed generations of families,” Smith said.

“And to sit here today at what is the last piece of financing for the Spooky Nook mixed-use redevelopment project, it’s been a long almost 10 years to get to that point,” Smith said.

“When you think about 2011, where we were from a local-economy standpoint, in the past call it 9-10 years, with the diversification of our economy, with iMFLUX coming, which is wholly owned by Procter & Gamble; with 80 Acres developing multiple locations within the city; Infinite Acres; Salvagnini putting on a new $8 million addition as we speak; (ThyssenKrupp) Bilstein growing by over 700 employees during that same timeframe,” Smith said. “It’s really been gratifying to see our local economy become more diverse, but also more forward-looking.”

Hamilton’s annual payroll has grown by more than $300 million, he said.

The council, agreeing with actions last week by the Hamilton Community Authority, altered conditions associated with $36.1 million bonds to be sold to help fund what also will include hotels and a convention center, as well as restaurants and retail shops.

The bonds, to be purchased by an unnamed Dallas-base investor in developments, are to close March 20.

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The city took other precautions against the virus. Among them, most heads of city departments were not present, as they usually are. Two presentations to the council were canceled. Also, the council announced the public could offer questions and comments during the meeting only about the 22 items on the agenda. Other matters would have to be sent by email.

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