Q&A: Yaromir Steiner talks about Liberty Center development in Butler County

Steiner: Our life is more than buying goods

CINCINNATI - Yaromir Steiner founded his Columbus-based development company in 1993 on a vision for building sustainable, pedestrian-friendly town centers where people could live, work and play. He has developed more than 7 million square feet of real estate since then and told Butler County Commissioners today that Liberty Center will be the best project he's ever built.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey and educated at the University of Toulouse in France, Steiner speaks four languages. He spoke to WCPO Digital about the Butler County project where he hopes to break ground in October.

Q: Why build a chapel in a mall? 

A: I really believe that our life is more than buying goods. Our life is more than work. Our life is our families, our spirituality. We all say that, but then, we don't reflect it in the things we do. So, I told myself we are building this town. So, where is the place where, after a tough day, you can go to think or meditate or just be quiet. It can be used for community events and chamber orchestra concerts, it's a quiet community place that is uplifting if you want. It sounds so non-commercial. It's why my wife says, ‘People will think you are crazy.'

Q: Can you name any tenants beyond Dillard's?

A: I could give you about 50 names I'm almost certain we're going to get. But because the deal is not even negotiated yet, to go on the record and tell the world I have them, it puts me in a very awkward position. We cannot do that, as much as the public wants to know. But it will be very comparable to the projects we have done. You can go online and download the tenant lists of our projects. It will be comparable to them. It will be one of the top two malls in Cincinnati, probably one of the top 5 malls in the state. So, it's strong.

Q: What will the final deal look like on infrastructure improvements?

A: Very recently, working with them, they came up with some very creative structures that we discovered two days ago. We're talking about certain public work that can be done with cost reductions. Or we could privately carry the costs but get a benefit somewhere else. So, suddenly our needs are not $30 million any more. It may be $20 million or $25 million. We are very confident that we will find a solution literally within the next 10 days.

Q: How will the private development costs be financed?

A: We'll contribute about 20 (million dollars) between Bucksbaum and us. Then there is that equity that you have to raise (up to $70 million) and this will come from pension funds, retirement systems, entities like this. The rest is construction loan debt, about 50 (million) probably.

Read the related article that outlines the development with video and renderings. http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/money/business_news/butler-liberty-sign-off-on-new-steiner-development-off-i-75

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