A majority of the stores and restaurants have now been announced for the October grand opening of the approximately $350 million Liberty Center retail complex, under construction now and believed to be one of the largest developments in Butler County history.
Project developers Steiner + Associates and Bucksbaum Retail Properties released Thursday a wave of about 50 new tenant names slated to open at Liberty Center, several of which are storefronts opening inside The Foundry, the center’s enclosed shopping mall.
When adding previously announced tenants — such as the anchors Dillard’s department store, Dick’s Sporting Goods and dinner-and-movie theater CineBistro — a total of approximately 70 tenants have signed lease contracts so far to open in Liberty Center, said Anne Mastin, executive vice president of retail real estate for Steiner.
More tenant announcements are expected this summer. By the time leasing is finalized, Steiner + Associates expects there to be about 80 tenants opening this fall and a second round of about 20 more tenants comprising the project’s first phase to open next spring, Mastin said.
“This is by no means the final list,” Mastin said Thursday.
Liberty Center’s first phase, consisting of just over 1 million-square-feet of shopping, dining, office and residential space, encompasses over 60 acres at the intersection of Ohio 129, Interstate 75 and Liberty Way in Liberty Twp. There’s room too for future phases of development at the site.
Estimates are for the center’s retailers, restaurants and other businesses to create approximately 3,500 new jobs by 2018, according to the township.
“Even if the retailer has another store in the market, this will be the latest and the greatest and the best in class,” Mastin said.
“There’s a big population base (in Butler and Warren counties) that doesn’t have a regional center and although there are other small places they can shop, this is the location that will have the critical mass with the combination of entertainment.”
New-to-Cincinnati storefronts opening at Liberty Center include Thursday’s announcement of Kendra Scott, which sells women’s accessories, and Marbles: the Brain Store, an educational toy store, Mastin said.
Several tenants of another Steiner project, Easton Town Center in the Columbus area, are following the developer south and opening their first Cincinnati market stores at Liberty Center. Among those are the restaurants BiBiBop Asian Grill, craft beer and pizza eatery Pie & Pints and gourmet burger joint Flip Side, as well as the store Celebrate Local, which sells products and services made by locally-owned small businesses.
“There’s no question that because Easton is a very successful shopping center, the highest volume shopping center in the state of Ohio, and we are one of the developers, we do have a lot of relationships with retailers and they do have confidence in what we develop,” Mastin said.
Celebrate Local, which actually announced its Liberty Center opening plans Wednesday, has “been a huge, huge hit in Easton and we think they’ll be a huge, huge hit in Cincinnati,” Mastin said.
Tech lovers should note that one of the stores announced Thursday is Simply Mac, which sells Apple products, Mastin said.
“Classic” stores that tend to open at Steiner-developed projects will also fill-out the Liberty Center lineup including Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, Bath & Body Works and Chico’s, she said.
A “hometown” favorite — Graeter’s Ice Cream — will also open a new location at the complex.
Even though Graeter’s has a nearby West Chester Twp. eatery, the Cincinnati-based dessert chain couldn’t pass up the opportunity to open a location that would attract dinner and movie-goers, said Chip Graeter, one of the family owners and chief of retail operations. The West Chester store is a full-service location with a bakery and candy line, but Liberty Center will be a smaller scoop shop, Graeter said.
“We also knew if we didn’t go there, somebody else would,” he said.
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