MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The town of Middletown is considering a project that would completely transform a vacant property into a space that’s comparable to Garden City Center.

The Middletown Planning Board heard from the developers behind the “Middletown Center” Thursday night.

The meeting is one of the first steps towards that town leaders are describing as a “very lengthy process.”

The proposal would redevelop 15 acres of land off of West Main Road, according to a document detailing the project.

Middletown Center, which the developers claim will “provide a new $1 million injection to the town’s finances annually,” would be a mixed-use space for retail shops, restaurants and a community space, as well as various types of residential housing.

One of the major components of the plan that has residents concerned is a 144-room hotel that would sit at the corner of Coddington Highway.

Residents questioned the developers during Thursday night’s hearing as to whether a hotel is the best use of that space.

“Hotels in this area are underutilized during the winter months,” one woman said. “I hate to see that precious acreage sit for 9 months or so of the year without having full access for the residents for something for us there.”

Other residents suggested tweaking the plan to better match the town by focusing on a community space.

The planning board voted to scheduled a special meeting to further discuss recommendations for the project before it’s brought to the Middletown Town Council for consideration.

The developers claim money Middletown Center generates “could be used for everything from education to road improvements and other efforts to make the community an even better place to live, work and play.”

The planning board emphasized several times during the meeting that they want to hear the concerns of residents, and asked the developers to keep an open mind when it comes to making changes.

“There were many very wonderful ideas,” one person representing the developers said at the meeting. “Some of them we will be able to incorporate, some of them we won’t.”

For updates on future meetings regarding the project, click here.