Kelly Stincer, For The Miami Student

Liberty Township officials recently met to discuss moving forward with planning the $177 million entertainment, retail, housing and office development that is proposed to be built on Interstate 75.

The project, called the Liberty Town Square, was originally proposed back in 2008 and was put on hold in part due to the recession and lack of funding. This allowed further development of the plan.

Steiner and Associates, the projected developers for this project, were responsible for shelving the plan when the recession hit in order to prevent funding complications and instead wait for a more stable economy.

“Steiner and Associates proposed the plan in 2008 to get the zoning in place and the preliminary development plan was passed,” Economic Development Director for Liberty Township Caroline McKinney said. “However, there is an expiration date of three years for the final plan and July 2011 marked the three years. Steiner and Associates came back and asked for an extension of the plan and were granted that. Now we are in the stages of planning for the rest of the project.”

McKinney also said Butler County would benefit from this development in terms of the job market. She said in the construction phase of the project, a projected 3,200 jobs are expected, and the anticipated number of full-time jobs upon completion is estimated at 4,600.

Steiner and Associates plan to mirror a development like that of Easton Town Center in Columbus and the Greene in Dayton, both of which Steiner and Associates are responsible for building.

“The next step for the developers is to gather commitments from department stores and businesses that are to be included in this Town Square, get the financing in order and still handle some legislation that is being dealt with at the state level in order to keep moving forward,” McKinney said.

Steiner and Associates have proposed $55 million of the $177 million be in public dollars.

Tax Increment Financing and the New Community Authority are two options of possible funding tools for this development. The Executive Director of Butler County Port Authority Mike Campbell further explained potential funding options.

“They are also talking about the possibility of issuing bonds,” Campbell said. “I think the PID could do it. There are a bunch of different revenue steams that would come into the project, though it’s still in the early stages of how that funding will take place and the specifics of all the details are not set in place yet.”

Butler County native and Miami University first year Taylor White commented on the new plans that she was especially enthusiastic about.

“This development will provide more jobs and will bring more people into Butler County which will boost our own micro-economy. And it’s a close location for Miami students to shop,” White said.

According to the Liberty Township Administration, the predicted opening for Liberty Town Square is sometime in 2014 and the goal for ground breaking and construction is hoped to be late in 2012 and early in 2013.

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