Entertainment district envisioned at Terre Haute’s The Mill
The owners of a popular music venue in Terre Haute have unveiled a vision for a new arts and entertainment district aimed at driving tourism growth in Vigo County. The Mill, which opened in 2021, could be complemented by a smaller indoor venue, hotel and community space, among other amenities. While specific details have not yet been finalized, co-owner Kelly Drake says having an entertainment district has always been the “true dream” for The Mill.
Drake told Inside INdiana Business the project adds value to a city that will continue to see an influx of visitors.
“We see so much growth in the entire city of Terre Haute and Vigo County that this goes right along with where people are looking for things to do,” said Drake. “People are looking for things to do. We’re trying to keep people in our town. We have four colleges, so retaining those people as well as bringing tourists in [is key].”
Currently, The Mill’s amphitheater has a maximum capacity of 10,000 attendees, but the district plan would allow for smaller shows, as well as accommodations for travelers.
“[We want] to have, maybe, a 1,500-seat, smaller indoor venue on the property as well,” said Drake. “We’ve also had some interest [from] some hotel groups that would want to come on. Terre Haute in general needs more hotels. We’re a growing town; we have a convention center that just opened and a casino that’s coming. So, that’s kind of where the hotel idea came in.”
Drake said the ownership group is looking to have a family-friendly aspect to the district in addition to the night life components.
Renderings show plans for a water park and a multi-sports complex, two ideas that are being floated by the county. Last month, the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board launched a public survey to gather input on such attractions as part of a feasibility study.
The Mill itself has launched a public survey about potential amenities at the district, such as an indoor music venue, indoor/outdoor water park, community space, ice skating rink, and a “Top Golf type of experience.”
Drake said the project will take a phased approach, and her team is currently working to determine which projects would be included in each phase.
“We’re trying to work out what’s the best direction for our company, as well as the community for that first phase,” she said. “Here in the next month, we’ll have a complete [idea] of what our first actions will be.”
Drake said the effort will primarily be privately funded, but she hopes they can receive some sort of financial assistance from the county. The Mill has created an online petition to gather public support for using funds from the county’s food and beverage tax, as well as American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
“We would like to try to see if we could request some help with some of the infrastructure, which is technically on their land, just helping with the roadways and maybe some lighting, power,” she said. “Widening the road has been talked about to help with the ingress and egress.”
In January, the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau reported $2.8 million collected from the innkeepers tax in 2022, a record for tourism in Vigo County. The Mill was one of the largest drivers of tourism growth, according to Executive Director David Patterson.
Drake said the city and county have been great to work with since The Mill’s opening and the idea of the entertainment district has generated a lot of positive feedback.
“I think people have seen the success of the amphitheater in general just in the first couple of years, so I think they like to see what we’re thinking of in terms of our dream and our reality,” she said. “This is kind of a partnership that we’re trying to work with, and we know it’s going to be over several years; it’s not anything that’s going to happen right away.”
The Mill’s 2023 season is set to begin in June, and Drake said she hopes they can break ground on the first project at the end of the season in October. But she cautions that a set timeline is not yet known.