Hamilton council approves financing incentives for giant Spooky Nook project

The City Council last week approved previously promised financial incentives for the $144 million Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, a gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center.

In one decision, officials on Wednesday approved an ordinance to issue up to $9 million in taxable economic development revenue bonds to support the project, which will occupy the former Champion Paper mill side on North B Street.

The facility, which is expected to attract teams for tournaments from three-hour drives or farther, also will include Greater Cincinnati’s second largest convention center, behind the Duke Energy Convention Center in Downtown Cincinnati.

In a second emergency ordinance, the council approved the issuance of up to $3 million in “General Obligation Roadway Improvement Bonds” to finance costs of roadway improvements for the project.

Council also gave permission for the city to enter a tax-increment financing and cooperative agreement with the Butler County Port Authority and the Hamilton Community Authority.

According to a report to council by the city’s director of external services, Tom Vanderhorst, “the agreement would assign the Energy Special Improvement I (ESID) special assessment and a to-be-determined amount of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues to the Hamilton Community Authority to be used to pay debt service on the applicable bonds and assign certain state grant funds designed for parking lot improvements to the Hamilton Community Authority.

“The ordinance would also ratify changes to the capital stack for the Champion project and authorize the city manager to enter into amendments to each development agreement to reflect those changes.”

In a related matter, the Hamilton Energy Special Improvement District I will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in city council chambers, 345 High St., to consider a resolution approving the cooperative agreement and security agreement with the proposed special assessment bonds to finance the Spooky Nook project.

Then, in the same room, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Hamilton Community Authority will consider increasing the maximum amount of PACE special assessment bonds that the authority can issue for the Spooky Nook project. Spooky Nook is the project’s name because that’s the road on which the original project is located in Manheim, Pa.

The Spooky Nook project will have additional tax assessments, of $37 million, placed on its county bills in coming years to help fund “Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) energy-efficient improvements that can be financed up to 30 years.

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