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. 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."
When it comes to Millennials and retail, two opposing story lines compete, experts say. In the first, these younger shoppers star as the industry's most important drivers of growth - the saviors of the mall. In the second, skeptics question how Millennials can be so important when it is their parents who have the real money. What appeals to Millennials, in other words increasingly feels relevant to older generations as well. While some media reports have portrayed Steiner's Liberty Center - a $350 million, mixed-use project slated to open this fall in Cincinnati's northern suburbs - as being designed with Millennials in mind, its appeal will in fact be multigenerational, Steiner says.
It is no secret that there is a significant paradigm shift underway in the world of regional retail development. While it continues to be business as usual for some brick-and-mortar retail sectors, a major transformation continues to unfold across America’s regional retail landscape. When we take a closer look at the underlying fundamentals, we can yield some important insights about what is causing these changes, where regional malls are headed, and what developers must do to not only survive, but thrive in this new environment.Many regional enclosed malls are already dead, and hundreds more are dying slow deaths. At the same time, more and more open-air mixed-use retail environments are emerging — some of which are regional in nature, and all of which are competing directly with those enclosed regional malls. The best of these new projects have common characteristics: a significant portion of their public space is outdoors; non-retail leisure time components are a large component of the tenant mix; and non-retail uses like residential, office and hospitality are fully integrated into the design.
The highly publicized mixed-use project Liberty Center in Ohio has just announced its first slate of retail tenants. With a scheduled October 2015 opening, Liberty Center includes more than 800,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurants and entertainment, including a 200,000-sq.-ft. Dillard’s anchor that will be the state of Ohio’s first ground-up Dillard’s store. The 64-acre, 1.2 million-sq.-ft. destination, co-developed by Steiner + Associates and Bucksbaum Retail Properties, will feature over 50 new tenants. “We are very excited to be formally announcing this first group of great tenants,” said Anne Mastin, executive VP of retail real estate for Steiner + Associates. “These retailers, restaurants and entertainment uses, many of which are regional and state firsts, are among the best in the industry and represent just the beginning of the full lineup you can expect to see when Liberty Center opens in October. We will be making several other significant announcements in the weeks and months to come.”