CANNONSBURG While it doesn’t take much to get Boyd County Judge-Executive Eric Chaney amped up, the 200-person crowd at the Boyd County Convention and Arts Center was just as enthusiastic following the announcement of the Camp Landing Entertainment District.
The district — which will include a Malibu Jack’s, reopening the movie theater, a convention center, a farmer’s market, a distillery and a sports complex (among other things) — will spring from the ruins of the Kyova Mall, per the announcement made by Chaney, the commissioners of the fiscal court and majority owner Jason Camp.
Camp inked the deal Thursday and made the announcement Friday.
Suzanne Griffith, one of the unofficial aldermen of Westwood, took to the microphone during a community question and answer session to voice her support for the project.
“I’ve been watching what Bill Dingus (economic development director of Lawrence County, Ohio) has been doing with The Point in South Point, now I see this,” she said. “Eric, you’re as good as Bill Dingus! Y’all are good at keeping secrets, because I hadn’t heard about this until today. This is great news for the county.”
State Representative Scott Sharp (R-Boyd), said the project is a “great opportunity for the county if everything goes right.” He said this could be something that could keep young people in Boyd County.
“My daughter went to school in Northern Kentucky and she’s staying there now,” he said. “This is something that could bring her back and could keep people from looking at the highway as a one-way ticket out.”
Dwight Adkins, owner of Fat Ash Cigar Lounge, said the news is “unbelievable and welcomed.” His shop is roughly a mile away from where the site.
“When I first opened business up there, that mall was seen as a liability,” he said. “I’m excited about this. I don’t think people truly realize the impact this will have on business along that corridor.”
Adkins said with Malibu Jack’s being there for the kids, Dad can run down down to his lounge and smoke a cigar.
“There’s kiddie world over there and daddy world right down the street,” Adkins said.
Debbie Kahn and Stevie Cobern, two Boyd County residents, said they were excited to see this announcement as well.
“There’s been rumors floating around for years about that mall, but it’s all been restaurant talk,” Kahn said. “I hope to see this happen, because it will be great for the kids.”
Cobern added, “I think it’ll be a draw for people to come to the area.”
David Nunley said he’s worked for Boyd County for 15 years.
“This is the biggest thing I’ve seen in terms of economic development,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful and it will be a big boost. Absolutely.”
Ashland Mayor Matthew B. Perkins said the project will help everyone in the area.
“I think a rising tide lifts all ships, so if this comes to fruition, everyone will benefit,” he said. “Quality of life is a priority in the city and in the county.”
Despite a convention center in the works at the old G.B. Johnson Building in downtown, Perkins said he didn’t believe it will turn into an Ashland Town Center vs. Cedar Knoll Mall scenario between dueling venues.
“Each venue is going to offer unique experiences and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Perkins said. “We’re going to be marketing to different groups and have different draws.”
Ashland City Manager Mike Graese said he’s “excited for the county.”
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of super exciting opportunities for all of Boyd County here.”
Alex Gillespie, who runs the Kids Sale, was also excited for the announcement.
“I am thankful that the Kyova Mall is going to greener pastures,” he said. “They’re working with us and letting us stay for our last event. I think the Camps are wonderful people and this will be great for the county.”
Just because the Sears will become a convention center doesn’t mean the Kids Sale is gone from Boyd County, Gillespie said.
“We’ll still be in the community,” he said. "I know a lot of people have been asking what's going to happen with the Kids Sale, and we appreciate that."
Drop-offs for the last Kids Sale Event will be next Friday and Saturday and the sale will begin on July 23, according to Gillespie.