2016-10-27 / Around Town

Restaurateur Constructing ‘Giant Playground’

By Olga Enger

Crews are pouring cement this week at the Longplex Family and Sports Center in Tiverton, according to owner and Middletown resident James Long. 
(Rendering courtesy of Longplex) Crews are pouring cement this week at the Longplex Family and Sports Center in Tiverton, according to owner and Middletown resident James Long. (Rendering courtesy of Longplex) Around 15 years ago, Middletown resident Jim Long began playing hockey. Along with learning the rules of the game, he acquired a business tip – ice time is in high demand.

Long, owner of Pizza Hollywood in Middletown, began planning a 167,000-square-foot, 10-acre facility that offers much more than just hockey.

“It’s a giant playground for all ages,” said Long.

Longplex Family and Sports Center, which will be located at 300 Industrial Way, Tiverton, will feature a wide gamut of family and fitness businesses, including a 10,000-square-foot workout facility, indoor soccer, volleyball and basketball courts, roller hockey, arcades and a 5,000-square-foot bounce house. It will even offer visitors local comforts such as Custom House Coffee and Pizza Hollywood.

Naturally, Longplex will include an outdoor ice rink, which will be available for leagues during the week and open to the public on weekends. The timing may come as a relief for skating fans, after the Peregrine Group recently outlined plans for a micro-hotel and pop-up retail cottages for the Newport Yachting Center site, the location of an outdoor skating rink. This winter will likely be the last season for that rink.

“I just got burnt out of the pizza business,” Long said. “I have been doing it my whole life. I have a great location, pizza gave me the option to go explore,” he added. Today, his son Justin runs the dayto day operations of the popular Middletown shop.

“Longplex has about 30 different partnerships and individual companies,” said Long. “There are a lot of positive things in here. It is balancing out very well.” When completed, the complex is expected to generate over 100 jobs, he estimated.

His goal is to create a one-stop shop for families.

“You could go work out while your kids are playing soccer. There are many babysitting options. We will have full-blown restaurants and sports bars. Your kids could be at a birthday party and you could watch the Red Sox. You aren’t trapped like you are at other buildings,” Long said.

Crews expect the project will be completed in early 2017. Currently, the site work is around 75 percent complete, which includes the fundamentals such as parking lots and fire hydrants. The building architect is LDL Studios of Providence; CFGS LLC of Connecticut is completing the site work.

“We are pouring the cement this week,” said Long.

The project, which is expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million, is being funded primarily through Savings Institute Bank and Trust. Investors make up a small percentage of the equation, said Long.

“Getting the green light to move forward felt really great,” Long said about receiving the news the bank had accepted his proposal. He purchased the 10-acre piece of land for $120,000.

“Tiverton has really embraced the project,” said Long. “It’s just the process of getting it done. There is nothing like that around here, so it’s a learning process.”

The fun will not be limited within Longplex’s walls. With an outdoor obstacle course and 30 miles of running trails around the complex, Longplex will host Tough Mudders, Boulder Dashes, 5Ks, and original events.

As crews work to build the new sports complex, Rhode Island voters will be asked on Election Day if they support a casino in Tiverton. If Question 1 is approved, Newport Grand will be moved to a new location just 400 feet from the Massachusetts border.

Long hopes voters approve the proposal, which he said would be a “win-win” for the state and Tiverton.

“It’s a casino that’s hiding in the middle of nowhere. If it were waterfront, I would oppose it. It will definitely help Longplex business,” Long said.

Long considers the project no different than any other job.

“It’s not about me. This is just work to me. I get up and go to work. I’m just doing whatever it takes to get to the next step in the process.”

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