Spooky Nook construction active, soon to show more building signs in Hamilton

Construction crews have been notably active in recent weeks at the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex and convention center. But in coming weeks, progress on the construction will become notably more visible, officials said.

“We’re fully underway here,” said Sam Beiler, owner of the project located at the former Champion Paper mill site on North B Street. “I really think the initial grading of the site should be finished, weather-dependent, maybe in the next two weeks.”

Observers soon will start to see steel rising on the project’s area west of B Street. And in coming weeks, Spooky Nook is expected to begin announcing companies that will be occupying some of the retail tenant spaces that will have entrances both from B Street and from inside the Spooky Nook buildings, officials said.

Within about a week, a concrete crusher should arrive to begin crushing and reusing the scrap concrete that’s now piled up north of the construction site, in a Rhea Avenue parking lot. That concrete, which has been been cut out from the property, will become base material for an access drive, some parking-lot areas and other places.

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It’s a little more difficult to see progress on the project’s Mill 1 side, the area west of B Street that will be the sports complex itself currently.

“But most of the footers for the steel structures are completed or underway,” Beiler said. “I believe they expect those to be completed within the next two weeks.”

“I think by the middle of June, you’ll start seeing vertical steel in pretty significant volume,” Beiler said.

He said as tenants begin to sign leases, his company soon will begin announcing them, with the first likely within six weeks.

Beiler said the project remains on target for completion by the end of 2021.

“Anytime you have 20 months of construction, there’s a lot of things that can go right, and there’s a lot of things that can go wrong,” he said. “At this point, the pace of the work still leads us to December 2021.”

“Both buildings, once the steel buildings are in place, now we’re not weather-dependent, so certainly, this coming winter we’ll be in a great position for lots of trades to be working inside. We remain pretty confident in the schedule.”

City officials and Dan Bates, the president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, say they are confident construction of the project will buoy the city’s economy during economic struggles caused by the coronavirus.

Hamilton officials were pleased that 2019 events in the city attracted 100,000 visitors. But when Spooky Nook opens, it eventually is expected to draw a million or more in a year, from as far as several hours away.

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Spooky Nook’s existing location near Manheim, Pa., is mostly closed now. Its restaurant is selling meals to-go, its hotel is considered an essential business, “but the other activities are curtailed pretty significantly,” Beiler said. “And our governor and health secretary are taking a very, very slow approach to reopening. So it’s been pretty frustrating. But we’re getting closer, I think, so we should be able to get back on track shortly.”

As for organizations booking the Hamilton space for sports tournaments and conventions, “We’ve not contracted anything yet, although for 2022, we have probably around a dozen events that have indicated their interest and willingness to commit to space,” Beiler said. But: “I want to see the progress move forward a little further before making a commitment to who we’ll rent space to.”

Bookings for such tournaments likely will start later this year.

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