It’s been a busy year at Liberty Twp., one that’s been capped off by news that the mega retail destination will be losing a major tenant in early 2019.
Here’s a look back at the $350 million mixed-use destination’s year in 2018:
1. The Gap announces it is closing
Retail giant The Gap posted signs this month saying its Liberty Center storefront at 7590 Sloan Way in Liberty Twp. is closing and advertising deep discounts on all merchandise.
The store is scheduled to close Jan. 28, Gap Inc. spokeswoman Debbie Felix told the Journal-News on Thursday.
Gap Inc. in November announced that up to 200 of its namesake stores could close after poor earnings reports, but did not initially name stores it was thinking of closing.
The company reported same-store sales at Gap stores, which includes Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, grew 7 percent last quarter, but the sales at the flagship Gap brand dropped 7 percent.
FIRST REPORT: The Gap closing Liberty Center location
2. Construction starts on iFly
The new iFLY Indoor Skydiving experience started construction toward the end of this year at the front of Liberty Center, next to the Interstate 75 exit ramp to Liberty Way.
The entertainment company, which simulates freefall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel, has flown more than 8 million people in a dozen countries and at sea since launching the modern vertical wind tunnel industry in 1998.
iFLY has 48 locations around the world in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia and “significant growth plans,” according to Liberty Center.
The building, when completed in 2019, will feature updated architecture compared to other locations.
MORE: It’s official: Indoor skydiving is coming to Liberty Center
3. New retail manager, leasing agent
Liberty Center’s real estate developer, Columbus-based Steiner + Associates, passed the reins of leasing and management of the $350 million mixed-use project in September to Chicago-based professional services and investment management company JLL.
Steiner + Associates continues to develop its significant holdings adjacent to Liberty Center, which includes about 60 acres, according to company officials. Steiner also continues to be partners in AC Hotel by Marriott Cincinnati at Liberty Center, plus the mixed use project’s office and residential buildings.
Liberty Twp. officials said the township will continue to work with Steiner + Associates as it develops the second phase of the mixed use project.
4. MidPointe Library opens new branch
MidPointe Library opened its fifth full-service branch Nov. 2 at Liberty Center.
Located on the second floor of Liberty Center’s Foundry building, the 3,681-square-foot library features 10,000 items for check out, on-site programming, WiFi, public computers with Internet access, the ability to reserve items for checkout and more.
5. Le Macaron opens first Ohio location
Le Macaron French Pastries opened a new location Dec. 26 on Bales Street between Torrid and Lush and across the street from Forever 21.
Although the French-inspired patisserie serves a wide array of gelato, cakes, specialty European-style coffees, classic French pastries and homemade candies, the macaron is Le Macaron’s claim to fame.
It offers 26 different types, from Belgian Chocolate, Colombian Coffee, Lemon Cream and Salted Caramel to Bailey’s, Mojito, Tea Matcha and Madagascar Black Vanilla. Each macaron resembles a colorful mini-hamburger and bears resemblance in name only with the coconut-laden macaroon.
6. Sugar & Spice Spa/Event Center debuts
Sugar & Spice Spa/Event Center, which is located inside The Foundry near Old Navy, offers planning, production, design and decor for all occasions and celebrations from weddings to birthday parties.
When it’s not used as an event center, it is a children’s drop-and-shop activity center, where parents can drop their children off with certified babysitters for up to four hours for a fee while they shop.
7. Sorella Boutique opens
Founded in Los Angeles, Sorella Boutique is a fashion boutique/streetwear brand home to the “Girls Tour” Wall.
Sorella represents the ever-growing culture of what it takes to be a girl with style, class, and business, according to the company, and its main goal is geared toward women’s growth and empowerment.
The boutique is adjacent to Hanna Andersson.
8. Home decor store Burlap & Birch opens
Burlap & Birch, which offers contemporary home decor, custom furniture and accessories, opened this summer at 7550 Bales St. in Liberty Center. It offers dining tables, benches, kitchen islands, hutches, coffee tables, media centers, mirrors, side tables, sofa tables, home goods, artisan crafted custom furniture and more.
Burlap & Birch also has locations at 15 E. Main St. in Lebanon and at 9281 Governor’s Way in Deerfield Twp.
Last fall at Liberty Center, the same family that owns Burlap & Birch launched a new location of sister store Rose & Remington, which offers contemporary clothing as well as home decor.
9. Molly’s Cupcakes announces first Ohio location
Molly’s Cupcakes announced this summer it is opening its first Ohio location at Liberty Center.
Along with cupcakes, Molly’s Cupcakes is known for its homemade ice cream, cookies and pies. A portion of proceeds from Molly’s Cupcakes are donated to local schools.
The new store, which will open next month, will be located near Pandora and the train display.
10. Claire’s retail fashion store added
Claire’s, the international specialty retailer of value-priced jewelry and chic accessories for girls and young women, opened in June in the indoor mall, The Foundry.
Located between Zales and Buckle, it replaces Sphere Virtual Reality Arcade, which closed earlier this year.
Claire’s sells everything from earrings, bracelets, makeup, nail polish and body glitter to hats, headbands, hair accessories, purses, portfolios, sunglasses, totes and more.
11. Sphere Virtual Reality Arcade closes
A Liberty Center tenant that touted itself as “Ohio’s first dedicated virtual reality arcade” opened in 2017 at Liberty Center’s Foundry mall but closed earlier this year.
The business offered a different experience from typical video games, putting players inside the actual game.
To get there, players strapped on a virtual reality headset, grabbed two hand-held controllers and delved into games from four different categories: Sports, Shooter, Action and Other.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.