MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Middletown’s $1.3 billion Hollywoodland project wasn’t on the ballot yesterday, but that didn’t keep voters from sending a clear message to city officials.
“I think it’s dead in the water,” said Rodney Muterspaw, one of two political newcomers who outperformed Vice Mayor Joe Mulligan to claim seats on Middletown’s city council. “It kind of divided the city a little bit. Maybe 80% against it, 20% for it.”
The former Middletown police chief was expected to do well in Tuesday’s election, but Zack Ferrell doesn’t enjoy the chief’s name recognition. One thing they shared is their opposition to Hollywoodland.
“I’ve knocked on 1,300 doors, and I’ve had maybe three people in support of it,” Ferrell said. “If that many people are saying no, then at what point does it make sense for us to say yes?”
The massive mixed-use development burst into public view on Oct. 5, when Main Street Community Capital LLC staged a three-hour presentation in council chambers. Their proposal called for a 50-acre entertainment complex themed on the move industry, with three hotels, a convention center, 10,000-seat concert facility and an industrial park that would target film production companies.
But as Main Street’s development contract neared an Oct. 21 vote, public opposition mounted. Mayor Nicole Condery voiced her opposition, while Vice Mayor Mulligan announced he would abstain because his family owned property near the development.
At the Oct. 21 meeting, council members Ami Vitori and Monica Nenni declined to vote, saying they were awaiting ethical guidance. At last night’s meeting, Councilman Talbott Moon signaled his opposition.
“Communities have to support development projects both in the construction phase and long term for them to be successful,” Moon said. “Right now, I’m not seeing much support out there, which makes moving forward very difficult.”
At this point, no vote is scheduled on the project, said Middletown Spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan. But council has three meetings left before its current term expires.
“I think at some point, it will die,” Mayor Condrey said. “It’s just a matter of when.”