Liberty Center project could take another step forward Thursday

Butler County, Liberty Township schedule vote

CINCINNATI - Butler County Commissioners and Liberty Township trustees have scheduled a joint meeting for Thursday morning to approve a new master development agreement for the $325 million Liberty Center project.

A spokesman says Columbus developer Steiner + Associates may also reveal the name of a new development partner joining the project. Developer Yaromir Steiner said in May that a hotel developer signed a letter of intent, but declined to name the company. A 150-room hotel that is intended to be part of the project's 60-acre first phase.

The one million-square-foot development is expected to break ground this fall and include a 200,000 square-foot Dillard's department store, a Cobb Theatres CineBistro dine-in movie theater and 370,000 square feet of specialty retailers.

Elements of the financing plan came into focus July 16 when Liberty Township trustees approved the creation of a New Community Authority to assess fees from tenants and shoppers who visit the project. Among those fees is a half-percent sales tax that would apply to all retail purchases at Liberty Center, effectively boosting the sales tax rate at the project to 6.75 percent.

Butler County Commissioners are expected to vote on the formation of the proposed Liberty Community Authority after a public hearing in August.

A revenue projection attached to the petition for the new taxing authority estimates it will generate $62 million for the project over 30 years. Steiner spokesman Brock Schmaltz said a portion of that revenue will support bond debt to pay for the construction of roads, sewers, parking garages and other infrastructure improvements needed for the project. Some of the revenue will cover maintenance and operating expenses.

Brock declined to provide details on other elements of the master development agreement, which Steiner said it needed in April to secure financing and finalize its tenant roster.

Developer Yaromir Steiner told WCPO Digital in April that his company and Bucksbaum Retail Partners of Chicago would contribute about $20 million in equity to the project.

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