Saturday, February 1, 2003

County backs plan to finance retail center



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - The Butler County commissioners have expressed support for a $7.4 million tax-increment financing package for two developers of a planned retail center at the northeast corner of Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Michael A. Fox Highway in Liberty Township.

The financing package would pay for additional turn lanes on Cincinnati-Dayton Road and for new roads entering and running through the retail center.

It also would pay for other infrastructure improvements on or near the 106-acre site that eventually might attract a movie theater.

Commissioner Mike Fox on Thursday called this agreement "an example of how partnering with townships, private developers and the county can bring jobs and revenue in the community."

The commissioners will approve the agreement after the necessary legal steps and paperwork are completed.

Tax-increment financing is a development tool that uses property tax revenue to help pay for infrastructure projects.

Fox said the improvements to Cincinnati-Dayton Road are needed even without the retail center.

He said the county's investment in the infrastructure improvements will be more than repaid by revenue created by the economic development it stimulates.

According to this agreement, the developers, Bob Hutsenpiller and Neyer Properties Inc. of Evendale, would support becoming a part of a proposed joint economic development district between Liberty Township and Mason and Liberty and Hamilton, and a future tax assessment district in Liberty along Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

County officials think revenue from these financing mechanisms will help fund the proposed completion of the Interstate 75 interchange at the Fox Highway. Butler County is waiting for state approval to start building the other half of the interchange.

"We need to have all the reserve funds we can get for that interchange," Fox said. "We can't depend on the state or Washington to build our roads."

The only tenant that developers have announced for the site is a BP station. Dan Neyer, president of Neyer Properties, said Thursday that he and Hutsenpiller are negotiating with other prospective tenants. A movie theater is one of the possibilities.

Construction for the first phase of the road improvement project will begin in the spring. By September, West Chester Lawn & Garden will be moved back a few hundred yards to a new four-acre spot.

Two turn lanes on Cincinnati-Dayton Road into the commercial development and west to Yankee Road will be built in 2004.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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