Towne Mall master plan project continues as Middletown eyes adjacent property

Middletown is eying the purchase of an additional 5.9-acre parcel adjacent to the Towne Mall Galleria as redevelopment efforts continue in the area.

The city of Middletown, George Ragheb, of the California investment group that owns of the Towne Mall Galleria, and the Warren County Port Authority entered into a partnership to redevelop the Towne Mall area into a town center mixed use development.

City Manager Jim Palenick said the mall area consists of 31 acres and has seen a steady decline in occupancy and economic activity over the past decade.

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Palenick said some developers have made efforts to make plans for the area over the past three years but failed in negotiating any site control with the mall’s ownership.

In November, the partnership contracted with RINKA, a Milwaukee-based company, to develop redevelopment plans with help from the Warren County Port Authority. Plans could include luxury, multi-family housing, entertainment and sports, dining and mixed-use destination retail. The two-phased, master planning process is expected to take 13 to18 weeks.

Palenick said an amendment to that deal would add the 5.9-acre parcel northwest of the mall property, also owned by Ragheb. He said parcel is vacant and for sale.

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He said the amendment will add $15,900 in costs for a total of $108,900.

He said the third partner and stakeholder in the process is the Warren County Port Authority, which sees the creation of significant investment in sales tax-producing activity. Officials said the port authority can assist with certain financing and economic development incentive tools as well as offering expertise in the sports and entertainment component of the planned redevelopment.

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