MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WDTN) – A presentation at Tuesday night’s Middletown City Council meeting provides more details on a proposed $1.8 billion theme park and entertainment district for the city.
Developers say Middletown was chosen to become the site of the project, which will be called Hollywoodland, because it’s estimated there are 18 million people who live within a three hour radius of Middletown.
“It’s been a struggle for some years, a lot of manufacutring jobs have left, a lot of difficult times economically speaking, this gives us a chance to really reinvent ourselves,” Middletown City Manager Jim Palenick said.
Palenick said the city is hoping to transform Middletown from a small town to a destination with this project.
“It’s kind of an aggressive approach to doing something that will be transformational to our community for the long term,” Palenick said.
With the ordinance city council is considering, the city would agree to partner with Main Street Community Capital to develop Hollywoodland surrounding downtown.
It includes multiple hotels, a convention center, an indoor concert venue, an indoor amusement park, bars and restaurants, retailers, motion picture studios and offices for streaming services to create tv shows and movies.
“It’s a really special place, if you look at those 18 million people, Hollywoodland is designed to work with the streaming services that don’t have what’s called location-based entertainment,” Main Street Community Capital Partner David Rachie said.
Developers said they plan to preserve the historic buildings in the downtown.
The project will be a $1.3 billion investment. It’s expected to create thousands jobs and bring 3.5 million visitors to the town each year.
Officials working on the project said the costs will not be put on Middletown residents.
Funding will mainly come from private investment, and $7.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding granted to the city.
“We’re using federal dollars, we’re using state incentives, we’re using tax credits,” Palenick said.
“We were able to get this put together in a way that has all the benefits, we can build a project like this, but it doesn’t burden the local population,” Rachie said.
Prior to the meeting, several Middletown residents and business owners said they looked forward to the economic boost the project could bring into the community.
City Council will vote on the ordinance to approve the project at their next meeting on October 21.