Sheila McLaughlin reports:
The public financing for the long-awaited $300 million Liberty Center project in Butler County appears to be a go.
Butler County commissioners and Liberty Township trustees will hold a joint meeting Thursday to approve a master development agreement between the township, county and Libertytown LLC for the mixed-use lifestyle development proposed for Liberty Way at the Interstate 75 interchange. The agreement paves the way for up to $35 million in infrastructure financing from the county and Liberty Township.
As of Tuesday afternoon, final details of the agreement were still being negotiated, said a spokesman for Columbus-based developer Steiner + Associates.
County commissioners had said they wouldn’t sign until Steiner had met certain expectations, including signing anchor tenants for the 1.1-million-square-foot project. So far, Steiner has announced agreements for a 200,000-square-foot flagship Dillard’s store and a 16-theater dining-theater complex by Cobb Theatres’ CineBistro.
Steiner expects to break ground in October or November and have Liberty Center open in fall 2015. Restaurants, Class A office space, a 150-room hotel and high-end apartments are planned along with other retail shops.
Last week, township trustees approved a measure that would set up a “new community authority” to generate funding for infrastructure improvements related to Liberty Center not covered by the latest agreement. A half-percent user fee for shoppers and restaurant patrons at Liberty Center as well as special assessments to tenants there are expected to help fill that gap.