Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul McKibben reports:
Liberty Town Square, billed as the largest retail development ever in Butler County, cleared a key hurdle Monday when county commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding.
The $300 million project, with its promise of 3,200 jobs during construction and another 4,600 permanent jobs for people who work there when shops open, languished for several years because of the economy.
The agreement includes the county, Liberty Township and developer Steiner + Associates of America.
Under the agreement, the county will pay up to 60 percent of the public infrastructure improvements not to exceed $30 million. The township will contribute 10 percent; not to exceed $5 million and a new community authority/developer will pay the rest.
Township trustees approved a memorandum of understanding last week to help fund $56 million in road improvements and a parking garage for the proposed project at Liberty Way and Interstate 75.
Steiner + Associates had asked commissioners for $55 million toward infrastructure improvements for the “lifestyle” retail center, which would be similar to Easton Town Center in Columbus and The Greene in Beavercreek.
Commissioner Chuck Furmon said the county will contribute $20 million in existing funds from a tax increment financing district, with another $10 million – possibly in $5 million increments – as Steiner reaches certain benchmarks in the project.
The money would back bonds that would be sold to pay for infrastructure.
“We want them to reach what they say they are going to do before we give the other $10 (million),” Furmon said.
Township trustees set several conditions on Steiner, including a prohibition on raiding other successful retail projects in Butler County – such as Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Township – to fill Liberty Town Square.
The first phase of the project, worth $177 million on 60 acres, is expected to open around May 2014 with two department stores, specialty retail shops, a mix of restaurants, 100,000 square feet of class A office space and about 150 high-end apartments.
Groundbreaking is expected by November.
Improvements to Cincinnati-Dayton Road at the Ohio 129 interchange, partly to accommodate the increase in traffic from Liberty Town Square, already are being planned.
Yaromir Steiner, who founded the Columbus-based development company, put it on hold in 2008 when the economy tanked.
Since then, it has been scaled back in size and value. Steiner initially proposed the project at $500 million. When completed, Liberty Town Square will sit on 100 acres and include up to 2.5 million square feet of commercial space.
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