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Hotel, convention center proposed for ‘generational’ development in Middletown

The project promises a mix of creative financing, including leveraging the city’s only viable property located in an opportunity zone.
The main site is an 11-acre, city-owned lot bounded by Carmody Boulevard, South Water Street...
The main site is an 11-acre, city-owned lot bounded by Carmody Boulevard, South Water Street and Second Avenue.(City of Middletown)
Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 9:37 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A new development including a hotel and a convention center could be coming to Middletown.

Middletown City Council approved a feasibility study Tuesday night with OZ Hotels & Resorts, which specializes in developments like this that incorporate opportunity zone financing.

The study will run between four and five months at a cost to the city of $250,000, resulting in a predevelopment plan with renderings, development budgets, conceptual entertainment venues and more. The city can decide then whether to move forward with the project.

City Manager Jim Palenick says the “once-in-a-generation” project is partly motivated by Hamilton’s Spooky Nook Sports Complex, which he says has created demand for “substantially more quality regional lodging.”

Palenick envisions the full project as a “transformational, downtown, mixed-use development” that will “enhance the downtown riverfront connecting it to the urban core downtown.”

The sites under consideration bear that out.

The main site is an 11-acre, city-owned lot bounded by Carmody Boulevard, South Water Street and Second Avenue. The site was environmentally remediated using federal EPA Grant funds, per which no residential construction can take place on it. Commercial, retail and recreational uses are allowed.

That site is the only one within an opportunity zone. The opportunity zone program incentivizes investment in economically distressed areas using tax credits equal to 10 percent of the amount invested.

Other sites under consideration (specific uses aren’t mentioned) include:

  • The city-owned, seven story First National Bank Building at the corner of Main and Central;
  • A city-owned 1.2-acre lot bounded by Manchester, Broad and Verity; and
  • A city-owned 3.4-acre block containing the Manchester hotel building, Snider building and associated parking.

As well as taking advantage of the opportunity zone, the city expects to pursue Ohio’s new TMUD tax credits, TIF financing and other means to limit its contributions to the project.

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