LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Butler County’s Liberty Center project will have an annual economic impact of $459 million, according to a University of Cincinnati study released Thursday.
The $350 million retail project is preparing for an Oct. 22 grand opening, with 92 tenants announced but fewer than 60 ready to open. Columbus-based developer Steiner + Associates told Liberty Township officials recently that it’s eager to start on the project’s 35-acre second phase.
The study was completed by UC’s Economics Center in April, 2014, but hasn’t been publicly released until now.
"The development of Liberty Center will bring economic benefits to residents of Butler County,” said the UC report. “The new Liberty Center will result in increased office space and residential units as well as offer a new place for shopping and recreational activities that will include retail stores and a dinner-and-movie theater.”
UC estimates the construction of Liberty Center will generate a one-time impact of nearly $528 million, with 2,300 temporary jobs created.
The $459 million impact comes from a projection that Liberty Center tenants will generate $318 million in sales by 2018. That’s about 20 percent more than a Butler County consultant projected in 2014.
Economics Center Research Associate Jeff Rexhausen said UC's numbers came from industry estimates applied to tenant-mix information provided by the developer. The actual tenant mix in 2018 could yield different results, up or down from UC's original projections.
The study projects that $318 million in direct sales from Liberty Center tenants will produce another $145 million in indirect impact. It also projects that Liberty Center will create 3,560 jobs with an annual payroll of $101.6 million. That averages out to $28,547 per job.
Finally, the study projects the development of Liberty Center will have a one-time fiscal impact of $1.8 million for Butler County, Liberty Township and other local jurisdictions. UC predicts Butler County will enjoy more than $2 million in increased sales taxes. Liberty Center will receive $1.1 million in increased earnings and hotel taxes.
The study also provide this warning:
“In the short term, this development will cause some loss of business at other retail stores in the county, but continued residential growth should generate additional demand that will offset any temporary sales declines.”