A national insurance provider has sold its Butler County facility in advance of a planned relocation.
Liberty Mutual Insurance sold property at 9450 Seward Road in Fairfield for $6.35 million on Dec. 27 to Ambrose Property Group, which purchased the property as AOZI Fairfield Office LLC. Liberty Mutual then sold other adjacent property to Indianapolis-based Ambrose earlier this month for $10.9 million.
The company’s 1,100 employees make it the city’s fourth-largest employer, behind Cincinnati Financial Corp. (3,250), Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital (1,400) and Koch Foods (1,250).
Liberty Mutual spokesman Glenn Greenberg said the company has 800 employs stationed in the Seward Road site and 300 who work remotely but are assigned to that location.
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“This is a way for us to decrease costs and improve competitiveness by reducing our unused space and maintaining what we need,” he said.
Changes to the work environment, he said, include in the process of implementing for many of its employees flex space, which is a mix of unassigned seating and different types of collaboration space.
Greenberg said Liberty Mutual is leasing back space in the current Seward Road location while it looks for a new location in the near vicinity.
The Fairfield location is an important regional location that supports Liberty Mutual’s countrywide business, he said.
Fairfield officials will make “every effort” to help Liberty Mutual find a site that works for it within the city’s borders, according to Greg Kathman, the city’s development services director.
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“Obviously, market conditions are changing for them and they feel the need to adapt,” Kathman said.
Fairfield officials have had some conversations with the new ownership group, but no specifics have been shared about their plans for the 137-acre site, most of it undeveloped space.
“Presumably the new owners saw an opportunity to further develop the rest of the undeveloped acreage,” he said.
A representative of the new property owner did not return a request for comment.
The site is located in an Opportunity Zone, areas created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and designed to spur economic development and job creation by providing tax benefits to those who invest eligible capital into communities, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Taxpayers may defer tax on eligible capital gains by making an appropriate investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and meeting other requirements. Fairfield was able to obtain Opportunity Zone designations for two Census Tracts in the city.
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Ohio Casualty was purchased by Liberty Mutual Group in 2007 for $2.7 billion and operates as a company of the Boston, Mass.-based insurance business.
Ohio Casualty got its start in Hamilton in 1919 and consistently claimed to be the first Ohio company to write full coverage for automobile insurance when the number of automobiles sharply increased after World War I. It relocated its headquarters from Hamilton to Fairfield in 1999.
Following it being acquired in 2007, Ohio Casualty went from selling insurance products in more than 40 U.S. states to insuring commercial property casualty products in seven states representing Liberty Mutual’s Mid-Atlantic market. The Mid-Atlantic region consists of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.
OHIO CASUALTY/LIBERTY MUTUAL TIMELINE
1919: Ohio Casualty was founded in Hamilton
1927: First two stories of North Third Street, Hamilton, headquarters built
1979: Hamilton headquarters expanded to six stories 1999: Relocated from Hamilton to Fairfield
2007: Business bought by Liberty Mutual Group 2008: Started more than $10 million renovation of Liberty Mutual’s Fairfield offices
2008: Liberty Mutual sold Hamilton properties at 131 and 136 N.Third St. to IRG Hamilton Office LLC
2010: The last Ohio Casualty employees in Hamilton moved to Fairfield
2019: Liberty Mutual sells its Fairfield location for $6.35 million