$16M in new bonds will help fund the giant Spooky Nook project in Hamilton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County commissioners officially agree to give $2.5 million for Spooky Nook.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

One of the final pieces of funding for the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill indoor sports complex and convention center fell into place Tuesday morning.

The Butler County Port Authority agreed to issue up to $16 million in taxable bonds at the request of the lender, Cleveland-based Maumee River Capital, which is providing the loan for this portion of the project’s funding.

The Hamilton Community Foundation has agreed to pledge $13 million of that $16 million, according to John Guidugli, the foundation’s president.

The foundation’s board must go through one last approval process in the next several weeks after seeing the final terms of the loan to make its approval final, he said.

Once that occurs, the project should be able to shift from site work — including cleanup, remediation and some demolition — into construction mode.

“We’re trying to get all the financing pieces in place to kick off the full construction (at) the end of October,” Brossart said.

In a Sept. 11 letter to the Butler County Port Authority, Guidugli thanked the port’s board for its consideration of “this vital project to our community.”

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Andy Brossart, Hamilton’s financial advisor, said the loan will be “repaid back by the operations of the facility.”

The entire Spooky Nook at Champion Mill project is estimated to cost $144 million — including a more than $26 million investment by Hamilton for loans, construction, utility and road improvements and more.

Jody Gunderson, the city’s director of economic development, said Hamilton officials are “very grateful” for the Port Authority’s participation in the project.

”I always have to remind myself that this is a redevelopment project and redevelopment has a lot of twists and turns and it is not easy to do redevelopment,” Gunderson said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Port Authority.

“But to save a gem, or a portion of that paper plant and make that, repurpose that, (it’s) a pretty big deal for the city of Hamilton.”

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Gunderson said larger projects like Spooky Nook, which often require investments by the county, city and various other entities, have “a much greater ripple effect to local economies.”

“There are going to be a lot of hotel rooms that are rented and a lot of shopping that gets done at Liberty (Center) as a result of this being a major draw to this area,” he said. “I kind of view it much like we viewed Liberty Center when it came in. It’s going to be a great asset to the city.”

Although the city of Hamilton stands to gain because of the project being located within its borders, Gunderson said he also foresees economic benefit in neighboring cities and townships and the county as a whole.

Brossart said Hamilton and Spooky Nook first approached the Hamilton Community Foundation regarding a $13 million commitment about a yearand a half ago, meeting with the foundation’s board, which agreed to pledge that funding.

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“It ends up being a guarantee, not a direct loan, so they’re guaranteeing the debt, the bonds on this, up to $13 million,” Brossart said.

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