Middletown’s East End to be site of big development as $6.2M purchase approved

Property may offer apartment complexes, commercial properties, entertainment and aquatic center.

The face of Middletown’s East End, often called the city’s welcome mat, could change dramatically in the next several years.

City Council approved spending $6.2 million to purchase more than 29 acres at the southeast corner of Union Road and Ohio 122 for a $160 million residential, commercial and sports and event complex; the 243-unit Atticus Apartments is planned at the corner of Market and Union Road, across the street from Atrium Medical Center; and representatives from the Atrium YMCA expressed interest in partnering with the city to build a multi-million dollar aquatic center.

City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow City Manager Paul Lolli to enter into an agreement with Woodard Development and Henry K. Fischer and Elaine M. Fischer, trustees of the Fischer Family Foundation.

The city entered into a memorandum of understanding with Ascent Real Estate Advisors, Woodard Development earlier this year when Ascent was tasked with getting the subject properties under contract for eventual purchase.

Under the contract and its amendment, the city has the option to purchase the parcels for $6,236,203 with a closing date in mid-summer of 2023. The agreement calls for the depositing of non-refundable earnest money in the interim. The first payment of $25,000 is due on Dec. 26, 2022 and a second payment of $125,000 is due on Feb. 23, 2023,

Both deposits will be credited toward the purchase price at closing.

The city has held the opportunity to acquire this property in the event that the previously planned redevelopment of the Towne Mall site could not be realized, city officials said. Last month, the city cancelled its $16 million purchase agreement and thereby scrapping its plans to redevelop the Towne Mall Galleria.

Tal Moon, the longest tenured City Council member, said the city is “not closing any door on working on the redevelopment of the Towne Mall” and he’s “optimistic” that further development of the Ohio 122 corridor makes investment at the mall more likely.

He credited city staff and Woodard for arranging this new site, planning that goes back months, he said. While there is significant work that needs to be done, he said this site provides the city an opportunity to continue working on the transformational ice and entertainment project that was first pitched by former City Manager Jim Palenick.

Council also unanimously approved legislation that authorizes Lolli to execute a second amendment to the consulting services agreement between the city and Community Center Partners (CCP) related to the planned multi-use development.

The city entered into a consulting services agreement between CCP, in partnership with Warren County, in early 2022 for pre-development consulting services related to the Towne Mall site. That redevelopment concept called for the construction of a new multi-use, planned development anchored by a regional sports and events venue.

Middletown and Warren County officials are beginning the pre-development and due diligence process related to the new site with the goal of having a “binding framework” agreed to by all parties in early 2023, according to the city.

The cost of the work is $260,000 and would come from the city’s general fund. These funds are reimbursable by TIF proceeds in the event the development proceeds to construction. Warren County has agreed to share in the new costs in keeping with the existing contractual partnership arrangement.

Developer wants city to waive sewer tap in fees

Jordan Wallace, developer of Atticus Apartments, asked the city to waive the sewer tap in fee that would save the developers about $32,000. He said those savings would be spent to install better insulation and more energy efficient windows that would save residents money on their utility bills.

Councilman Zack Ferrell, a Realtor, said the city waived more than $1.5 million in sewer fees during the development of Sawyer’s Mill residential housing project and more than $21,000 when Nicolas Place, a 216-unit apartment complex, was built.

City Council is expected to vote on the legislation at its next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 20.

YMCA hopes to partner with city

Tyler Roberts also made a presentation asking if the city was interested in building an aquatic park near the Atrium YMCA that the YMCA would then manage.

ExploreMcCrabb: Group believes water park should be built in the city

His presentation included options that ranged from $2.3 million to $3.7 million depending on the number of water features. If the city built the aquatic center, the YMCA would be responsible for annual upkeep of the center estimated at $200,000 to $350,000, he said.

He said the sale of daily water passes and an increase in the number of YMCA memberships would help offset the cost of operating the facility.

Last month, council has heard presentations from representatives from SplashDown Middletown Water Park.

Adriane Scherrer, a board member, said Middletown’s aquatic center comes with an estimated $4.2 million price tag that she believes can be raised if the board gets the approval from the city.

Board members said a water park would improve the quality of life for Middletown residents and those from surrounding communities; provide a safe activity for children during the summer; give residents an opportunity to take swimming lessons; and attract more families and businesses to the area.

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