Prime real estate sells as Liberty Center spurs new development

With construction in full swing on the mega retail complex Liberty Center, the expected fall out — that Liberty Center would spur unprecedented development of surrounding property — appears to be taking shape.

Liberty Center is the $350 million shopping, dining, residential and office complex under construction for a fall 2015 opening at the intersection of Interstate 75, Ohio 129 and Liberty Way. It’s being developed by Steiner + Associates of the Columbus area. Construction started earlier in 2014 on more than 1 million square feet encompassing about 65 acres, and the project is described as one of the largest developments in Butler County history.

Great Traditions Land & Development Co. of Sharonville revealed in June plans to develop retail and dining on 18 acres off Liberty Way in West Chester Twp., directly across the street from Liberty Center, that would be anchored by Cabela’s Inc. And in August, Cabela’s confirmed it would start construction shortly, with intentions to also open in the fall of 2015.

“I think (Steiner + Associates) is creating a great project that will be a real game changer for that entire area,” Thomas Humes, president and chief executive officer of Great Traditions, said during a June interview. “I think that has a wonderful spillover effect to the other areas. Our goal is to make sure that our project very appropriately complements their project.”

Earlier this month, three parcels of land in Liberty Twp. sold, nearing $17 million altogether, east of the Liberty Way interchange. Contact information for the buyer, Cox Road Investments LLC, was not immediately available. No plans for development have been submitted to the township since the transactions were finalized on Oct. 3 and Oct. 7, according to Caroline McKinney, the township’s economic development director.

When THE WEB Extreme Entertainment opened in 2010 in Liberty Twp., the move was predicated on the anticipated opening of Liberty Center, said Owner Jerry Weber.

Weber started the laser tag business in 1999 in Fairfield and relocated to Liberty Twp. where THE WEB, at 7172 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, now has laser tag, indoor go-kart, bowling, and a restaurant in one place. He says they have about 70 full- and part-time employees.

“We’re very excited,” Weber said. “Once that Liberty Center project goes through, all of a sudden we’ll be a destination.”

He’ll be able to tell customers to find his business by referring to THE WEB next to Liberty Center, instead of at the corner of Cincinnati-Dayton and Hamilton Mason roads.

“It’s just going to be much more recognized,” Weber said.

At the time the Liberty Way interchange with I-75 and Ohio 129 was completed in 2009, it unlocked 600 acres of developable land in both Liberty and West Chester townships, according to McKinney.

The land between the Liberty Way/I-75 interchange and the Four Bridges/Evergreen Estates subdivision east of Cox Road has been zoned for either office or office and limited industrial use since 1999, according to Andy Meyer, senior planner for Liberty Twp.

The land is located in the Cox Road Corridor Overlay District, which modifies the permitted uses, building heights, building design, signage, and buffering of adjacent residential subdivisions, Meyer said.

“We will be involved at the point at which a development is being proposed and zoning needs verified,” McKinney said.

Meanwhile, Liberty Twp. is also the site of two expansion projects at Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Center. The hospital is spending $160 million to add a fourth floor and a proton therapy and research center for cancer treatment.

That pediatric hospital’s project helped attract plans to build a 92-suite extended stay hotel in Liberty Twp., to be built on Liberty Centre Drive. The $9 million Home2 Suites by Hilton will be the first in Ohio when it opens in 2015.

Liberty Center will be anchored by Dillard’s department store, dinner-and-movie theater CineBistro, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Those tenants will be joined by the restaurants Brio Tuscan Grille, Cheesecake Factory, Kona Grill and Pie & Pints, according to developers.

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