Liberty Center project lacking approvals necessary for public financing

Developer, county say project still on track

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio - The Liberty Center project has yet to meet six of the 14 contingencies required to receive $31 million in public financing for the $300 million mega shopping, office and entertainment development, according to records obtained by WCPO.

Despite the potential funding glitch, Columbus developer Steiner + Associates says the project remains on target for a Fall, 2015 opening.

“All aspects of the project are proceeding on the expected pace,” said Steiner spokesman Brock Schmalz.

The contingencies are required under a master development agreement that binds Butler County, Liberty Township and Libertytown LLC to certain obligations for the 100-acre project. Libertytown is a corporate entity organized by Steiner and Bucksbaum Retail Properties of Chicago, who are partners in the development.

Plans call for a 65-acre first phase that includes more than 800,000 in retail space and a Cobb Theaters CineBistro, along with apartment, office and hotel properties that would be separately financed, not part of the $300 million project price tag.

Steiner has previously announced that the project is 50 percent leased, with Dillard’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods identified as anchor tenants.

Butler County Administrator Charles Young said in early May that the county was “very close” to issuing $10 million in bonds for the project. That funding would be issued jointly with a $5 million from Liberty Township and $16 million from a New Community Authority that can issue debt backed by revenue from tenant assessments.

To receive the public funding, the contract requires the developer to meet 14 contingencies.

Insiders can learn what contingencies developers have yet to meet and review the public document that outlines county and township concerns.

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