An interchange opened explosive growth in Liberty Twp. Here’s how.

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An interchange opened explosive growth in Liberty Twp. Here’s how.

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Ty Greenlees
The Liberty Center opened in 2015 and continues to expand, including more development on the south side of Liberty Way. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Liberty Twp. could be on its way to doubling in size, and the Liberty Way interchange will play a major role in that growth.

The interchange, which opened in 2009, helped to open up land for development that saw the Liberty Center create a 100-acre development just two years ago. Then earlier this month, The Christ Hospital Health Network opened its largest location outside of its main campus on acreage sandwiched between Interstate 75 and Cox Road in Liberty Twp.

“The growth and development of this area just continues to grow,” said Joe Hinson, president and CEO of West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance.

Hinson said it would be the “power of Interstate 75” that will help Liberty Twp. grow as scores of thousands of vehicles pass Liberty Twp. every day on the highway.

“Today in Liberty Twp. there are about 40,000 residents,” Hinson said. “That’s halfway. That’s basically 50 percent build out. At full buildout, we’re talking about 80,000 residents in Liberty Twp.”

A key place for a Cincinnati-Dayton convergence

The plan for Liberty Twp. is to make it a more walkable community, where pedestrian bridges will connect, among other things, the Voice of America complex, Liberty Center, The Christ Hospital Medical Center-Liberty Twp., and Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus.

The plan is also for Liberty Twp. to extend Cox Road north, past Millikin Road — local government leaders are pushing to make that Interstate 75 overpass a full interchange — and connect with Ohio 63. That development, which would take several years to happen, “would open up another 1,200 acres for commercial development for Liberty Twp, and our region,” Hinson said.

“Liberty Twp. plays a key role in the growth and development of our area and our region,” he said. “As Cincinnati and Dayton come closer together, Liberty Twp. plays a key role in that.”

And that would only be helped if the federal Office of Management and Budget recognizes the Cincinnati-to-Dayton corridor as a single metropolitan statistical area. Today, this region’s MSA is from Cincinnati to Middletown, with parts of northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. The Dayton MSA includes Clark, Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties.

Statistical data about an MSA, among other things, helps government and business officials review information like per capita income, spending patterns and unemployment rates. Results can be used to develop economic growth policies in the region.

Hinson said he’s talked with Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy, about a Cincinnati-Dayton MSA, and his office sent a letter to the OMB about the topic in September.

“A lot of it has to do with what’s going on in Liberty Twp.,” Hinson said about economic growth and growth potential in the region. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that The Christ Hospital has decided to come to Liberty Twp. and make it its home.”

Growing a health care presence

Liberty Twp. Trustee Christine Matacic said the township’s stage is set as the it has “created an atmosphere that will attract and retain businesses and develop services that this community needs and wants.”

That’s in large part due to Liberty Twp.’s vision plan, which began with the Liberty Way interchange, she said. The current development and the future growth didn’t happen by chance, she said.

“In Liberty Twp., we have a vision that we keep modifying and updating every so often, but when we put together the Cox Road vision, the medical hub was kind of what we looked at for this region,” she said. “So the healthcare corridor has arrived with the addition of this medical center. We set the stage, we created an atmosphere that will attract and retain businesses and develop services that this community needs and wants.”

Also continuing to grow is the region’s medical presence. Christ Hospital Medical Center-Liberty Twp. opened Jan. 8 just across I-75 from Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus, which opened on Yankee Road in 2008, and just up the road from West Chester Hospital, which opened in 2009.

Expansion of Christ Hospital facility is possible because the health network owns more than 40 acres around the interchange, according to Butler County Auditor’s Office property records.

“There is opportunity to expand in several different directions with the facility, depending on the community needs,” said Deborah Hayes, Christ Hospital Health Network’s vice president and chief operating officer.

Also planned for the area is a TriHealth medical center, a project set to be developed just across the street in West Chester Twp.

That project is being developed by Miller-Valentine Group, which also is putting together a mixed-use project set to include medical buildings, a four-story hotel and various retail components on 57 acres along Cox Road just north of Liberty Way.

Why Liberty Interchange was a big move

The Liberty Interchange, a $42 million locally funded infrastructure project, opened up 600 undeveloped acres for commercial development, when it openedand approximately 10,000 new jobs are projected with an annual payroll of $250 million at complete build-out, according to Liberty Twp.

That acreage positions the township to be a significant player in the Cincinnati-Dayton Metroplex, giving it ample room for a mix of commercial opportunities identified in the township’s land plan, including office, retail, hospitality, medical, research and development, community business, light industrial, business parks, Fortune 500 headquarters sites and more.

Liberty Twp. officials late last year joined 237 communities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America in a bid to lure Amazon to develop its second headquarters.

Lenny Robinson, president of Robinson Commercial Real Estate, sees the land opening up along I-75 not only going to commercial development but retail and residential development.

“The success of Southwestern Ohio recently has been attributed to logistic and medical, but how much more medical is anybody’s best guess,” he said. “Northern Kentucky (development) did so well because it was close to (Greater Cincinnati International) Airport.”

But the next opportunity for growth and development are those parts along the I-75 corridor, such as in Liberty Twp.

“Distribution, office, and a little bit of retail is strong, and I also see housing coming into the mix as well,” Robinson said.

More growth on the way

Housing development already is popping up in the area in several forms, including the Springs of Liberty about a mile west of the Liberty Interchange, Springs of West Chester about a mile west of I-75’s Union Centre Boulevard exit, and Savoy at The Streets of West Chester developing adjacent to recently opened Streets of West Chester shopping options Topgolf, Main Street Entertainment, Holtman’s Donuts, Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Duluth Trading Company and Matt the Miller’s Tavern.

“You don’t see a lot of new apartment developments being done,” Robinson said. “That’s where I think you’re going to find more of that millennial mix of housing with all the amenities that go with it. High-scale, high-end apartments. That will attract the millennial population because of its convenience, and the way Cincinnati and Dayton continue to grow together.”

Dan Colletto, vice president of leasing and development for Duke Realty, said the I-75 corridor also is a good fit for warehouse distribution facilities.

“There’s available labor, there’s a lot of existing facilities and then I-75 is one of the highest trafficked trucking corridors that runs north-south in the U.S.,” Colletto said. “It really comes back to where all the goods and services are coming, for goods and trucks and traffic, is I-75, typically.”

Any industrial developer would be interested in developing land along the I-75 corridor, including the Liberty Way exit and the planned Millikin Interchange, “all the way up to Monroe” provided a community has zoned that land accordingly, he said.

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