- Sharahn D. Boykin Staff Writer
Plans for a new family-friendly entertainment center in the former Fulmer’s grocery location in Xenia Towne Square have been scaled down and delayed while the new developer seeks funding.
The initial developer behind the project, Creative Entertainment Concepts, pulled out of the project. Bumpers Entertainment, owned by Xenia resident Dede Larson, has taken over and made adjustments to the plans, which now include a miniature golf course, a small bowling alley and bumper cars.
Earlier plans for a $7 million entertainment center included a 14-lane bowling alley, a laser tag course, an arcade, a party/banquet area and a sports bar. That project also included the addition of an eight-screen movie theater in the space for the former Kmart building, but plans for the movie theater dissolved, reducing the estimated value of the project to $2.6 million.
“Everything has been at a standstill and it has been for a little while,” Larson said. “The location has even been up for debate.”
CEC withdrew from the project following the controversy that ensued after two city council members disclosed they planned to invest in the project and had accepted jobs with the developer.
“It drastically impacted our investor group,” said David Beauregard of CEC. “That was really it. It’s a good market for the entertainment center, but it’s going to take somebody else other than me to develop it.”
The disclosure by the city councilmen, John Caupp and Dale Louderback, triggered an inquiry by the remaining council members to determine whether they violated the city charter. In September, the council determined Caupp and Louderback violated the city charter and censured, or reprimanded, them.
In addition to the city ethics inquiry, the Ohio Ethics Commission and Ohio Auditor are investigating the councilmen.
“I believe it’s still ongoing,” said Xenia City Council President Michael Engle during a recent interview. “I’ve received no additional follow up.”
The delay in plans for the entertainment development project come almost two years after the city spent $15,000 for CEC to provide services related to the project, including developing a preliminary floor plan, a feasibility study and estimates for construction and redevelopment in Aug. 2014.
Now, Bumpers Entertainment is considering other locations and is seeking additional investors for a development project that is valued at about $350,000, according to Larson.
She has held fundraisers to help fund the entertainment center and has a GoFundMe account online that has raised $312 since November. A softball challenge at Central Middle School was scheduled for Saturday and marked the fourth fundraiser event the company has held.
“These events, they haven’t brought in a ton of money, but they can bring in some money,” Larson said. “Getting our name out there is the main goal of the event.”
There are other developers who would like to partner with her on the project, but they would like to remain anonymous, she said.
To help get the project off the ground sooner, Larson is considering breaking the project into phases, where it would start with either the miniature golf course or bumper cars instead of completing the entire project all at once.
“We could at least get it going,” she said. “You could always add on.”