By Michael D. Clark & Bowdeya Tweh
LIBERTY TWP. – For this still largely undeveloped Butler County township, the prospect of landing a megasized mixed-use mall – the $350 million Liberty Center – was unheard of a decade ago.
As Greater Cincinnati’s northern suburbs along the Interstate 75 corridor grew, Liberty Township’s location became more of an asset than a liability. It also offered the mostly rural, but growing bedroom community the chance to get a central business district.
With Liberty Center, it’s almost like a Downtown fell from the sky, according to government officials.
Actually, that was the hope and the plan all along.
Township officials approved a comprehensive land use plan in 2006 and they knew property along Interstate 75 had development potential. The plan designated the area along I-75 from Hamilton-Mason Road – now Liberty Way – extending north to Princeton Road to become a commerce center.
At the time, the township didn’t have a natural community gathering space. Leaders and residents saw or heard about the impact that the renovations of Fountain Square had on Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.
So far Liberty Center, which just completed its first weekend of operation, is bringing is exceeding the expectations of township officials. “It’s hard to not get excited about it,” said Caroline McKinney, the township’s economic development director. “It’ll have shoppers, business people, and residents. People who come may not shop or buy stuff. They may watch concerts, do yoga. The way they’re programming it is for it to be more than a shopping center.”
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