Towne Mall redevelopment moves forward as Phase II approved

Paul Lolli, Middletown’s acting city manager, said when the redevelopment of the Towne Mall is “one of the best things to happen to Middletown in a long, long time.”

Once the proposed project is complete the entire East End region will “bloom and blossom,” he said during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Following Lolli’s presentation, Middletown City Council took the next step in the project when it unanimously supported not paying more than $263,500 to Community Center Partners, LLC for completion of Phase II, of which the city is responsible for $118,575 plus certain reimbursable expenses.

Since the city is the contracting party with CCP and will be reimbursed by Warren County and the Warren County Port Authority, the city needs to appropriate enough funding to cover the entirety of the second phase of the project, even though the city will not be paying that amount after accounting for reimbursements, according to city documents.

Lolli said the Warren County Port Authority has indicated it would appropriate the funds necessary to cover the balance of the Phase II financial obligations. Additionally, the city is including an additional $20,000 for certain reimbursable expenses for Phase II.

Lolli said the Towne Mall project is only the beginning of a “fantastic relationship” with Warren County.

The city plans to convert the mall property into a sports and entertainment complex with a primary intended use as a hockey arena, but with the flexibility for the facility to be used for other special events. Former City Manager Jim Palenick said he envisioned an ice hockey arena because it would compliment and not compete with Spooky Nook, the mega sports facility under construction in Hamilton.

The venue would be supported by retail, hotels, bars and restaurants and residential uses, according to the RINKA plan.

Council approved a development and consulting agreement with CCP at its Jan. 18 meeting. The agreement contemplated certain plan, design, and implementation strategies for the project to be handled in two successive phases and to be completed in approximately nine months, according to the city.

The first phase was to be information and fact gathering to determine whether or not the project was feasible. Phase II will include more detailed modeling and determine the best structure for the financing and operation of the project, according to Lolli.

Total cost for Phase I of the pre-development effort was $211,500 plus certain reimbursable expenses, Lolli said. Middletown was the fiscal agent and contributed $73,350 plus $17,695, its share of reimbursable expenses, he said.

The remainder of the cost will be contributed by Warren County and the Warren County Port Authority.

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