Sunday, June 09, 2002

Work begins on shopping center


Voice of America stores going up in West Chester

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The Voice of America Centre jumped ahead Saturday in this bustling Butler County suburb's “mall war,” as construction began for the discount shopping center.

        The center, just off Interstate 75 at the northeast corner of Tylersville and Cox roads. is expected to open in spring 2003 on 75 acres with retail giant Target and grocery chain Bigg's as the anchor stores. Development plans also include Pier 1 Imports, Bed Bath & Beyond, Famous Footwear and T.J. Maxx.

        “This is a very satisfying increase in the growth of retail here,” West Chester Trustee Catherine Stoker said Saturday. “Retail growth is the one thing we've been waiting on in West Chester to help balance residential costs.”

        The 500,000-square-foot center is the first major retail development along Tylersville Road since four big-box outlets emerged there in the mid 1990s: Kohl's, Home Depot, Meijer and Wal-Mart.

        When the Voice of America Centre is built, it will pump at least $500,000 in tax revenues to township and county coffers, Ms. Stoker said.

        The project's developer, John Silverman of Midland Atlantic Properties in Kenwood, has said he is trying to lure Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

        A bank, convenience store, fitness center and day spa also may come.

        The shopping center will include a 5 1/2-acre lake, bike trails, a walking path and a pavilion.

        Midland Atlantic announced last year it had signed a lease with Michigan-based Jacobsons Stores Inc. to anchor the mall, but that plan crashed when Jacobsons filed for bankruptcy in January. So the center's offerings were shifted to discount fare.

        The next of three other proposed open-air malls in West Chester is expected to begin construction in July on The Streets of West Chester, at the southeast corner of I-75 and Union Centre Boulevard.

        A competitor, West Chester Market Square, may start construction this fall. But first, on Wednesday, developers of that complex will go before the township's Board of Zoning Appeals to seek a variance for a movie theater.

        A construction date has yet to be announced for The Avenue of West Chester, on the northwest corner of Union Centre Boulevard and Muhlhauser Road.

        The Voice of America project, near where the U.S. Voice of America transmitted pro-democracy short-wave broadcasts during World War II and the Cold War, is among the first in a rash of coming developments adjacent to Interstate 75 along Cox Road north of Tylersville to Hamilton-Mason Road. It will rise next to the 325-acre Voice of America Park.

        Just north of the shopping center on Cox Road, four other developments are either built, under construction or proposed:

        • Beacon Point, a commercial complex already open.

        • University Pointe, a medical office center expected to open this fall.

        • A Miami University learning center.

        • West Chester Township's new library.

        Cox is being widened from two to five lanes north of Tylersville to Hamilton-Mason. That stretch of Cox has been closed for construction since April and isn't expected to reopen until late November.

        All the development is sure to add to traffic woes along Tylersville Road, the main east-west thoroughfare in the northern portion of the township.

        But Ms. Stoker said officials are hoping traffic will ease in three or four years, after the opening of a full interchange off I-75 in Liberty Township.

       



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