New Costco could come to Liberty Twp. in proposed development

A new Costco store and 434 “renter-by-choice” apartments could be coming to the northeast corner of Cox Road and Liberty Way in Liberty Twp. if a zoning change is approved.

Freedom Pointe is a proposed $133 million mixed use development that envisions the big box store, apartments that will cater to empty-nesters and millennial professionals, office, medical, retail, restaurants and a hotel on the 88-acre site. The developer needs a zone change because Liberty Twp. development plans don’t currently allow big box stores or apartments in that area.

Liberty Twp. Economic Development Director Caroline McKinney told the Journal-News if the development is eventually approved it would be a boon for the township.

“This represents a key property in Liberty Township’s vision for development to extend along the I-75 corridor towards Millikin Road. With the existing infrastructure at Liberty Way and the great amenities in the area, this property is full of potential,” McKinney said. “It’s a large piece of land so has needed a master planned development approach to encourage a mixture of uses and to create opportunities for smaller users.”

The application notes the project would create approximately 578 construction jobs with a projected economic impact of $223 million. The application doesn’t indicate how many jobs the Costco and other retail operations and hotel could bring.

Property tax revenue is projected at $2.8 million annually.

“In addition to the annual property taxes, this Costco location is anticipated to exceed the average store sales of $150 million annually. In addition, we are projecting that Butler County will have an increase in sales tax revenue commencing in 2023 of $1.1 million per year from the additional retail components of this project,” the application reads. “The township will benefit from the employee taxes projected at better than $100,000.00 annually as well as the tax on corporate earnings.”

The property is within the existing county tax increment financing district (TIF) and the township’s Joint Economic Development District (JEDD). TIF funds are collected in a special account from developers to help repay bonds for infrastructure needed in a given area.

Townships cannot generally collect income tax unless a property is within a JEDD. The county commissioners extended the University Pointe TIF another 30 years last summer which means the township will not benefit from property value hike until 2062, which concerns Trustee Christine Matacic.

“I’m going to ask for an economic impact for Liberty Twp.,” Matacic said. “I need to make sure before I weigh in on anything that financially we will be able to service that area, considering that we get no income other than the JEDD that’s on that property, because all those funds go to the county because it’s a county TIF.”

Because Trustee Board President Tom Farrell lives near the proposed development, he told the Journal-News he must recuse himself from voting and cannot discuss the project. It will ultimately be up to Matacic and Trustee Steve Schramm.

The two trustees said they could not comment on the development particulars, but Schramm said in general the township needs new development prospects.

“My personal opinion I love all development in Liberty Twp. I think we need to be looking a lot deeper and a lot harder for development in today’s world, because there just isn’t the gleaming glass and steel office towers being built any longer,” Schramm said. “I am anxiously looking for any and all good quality development opportunities, and that area I think is in need of some movement, we’ve been kind of stagnant.”

The Butler County Planning Commission was scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter Tuesday. Then the case will come before the township zoning commission and McKinney said she expects the trustees will get it in July.

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