By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP - This Butler County suburb may be the next to see its own entertainment district with a 12-screen cinema, restaurants and shops.
On the heels of a similar center opening this summer in nearby West Chester Township, leaders in Fairfield Township are excited over a potential $70 million project on 66 acres along Princeton Road between Ohio Bypass 4 and Morris Road.
The Pavilion at Princeton Road would hold more than 550,000 square feet of retail space and an 80,000- square-foot-cinema. No tenants have been signed.
The center could open as early as fall 2004.
Township leaders and residents say they are looking forward to additional property tax revenue and restaurants.
Some residents, however, have concerns about traffic and the loss of green space.
The development is expected to dramatically increase traffic in the area, which saw a more than 500 percent boost in vehicles when a Wal-Mart opened.
Butler County and the township's zoning boards recommended rezoning for the project in July. Trustees are expected to give the final OK today at their 6 p.m. meeting.
"It's going to be a perfect situation," said Trustee Steve Morgan. "We need this. It's probably one of the most expensive pieces of property in Fairfield Township, so we want something nice in there."
Officials with the development company, Premier Properties USA Inc. of Indianapolis, say they were attracted to Fairfield Township's fast growth and high-end demographics.
The township's population rose from 9,000 to 16,000 in the last decade; there are now about 18,000 residents.
The new development would join a blossoming commercial corridor. Businesses were enticed once the Michael A. Fox Highway emerged in late 1999, linking the township to Interstate 75.
Home Depot and the Wal-Mart were the first retail behemoths to open in Fairfield Township, at the intersection of Princeton Road and Ohio Bypass 4.
Since then, a strip mall has opened nearby and another center is under way.
The parcel for The Pavilion is former farmland and one of the last large, undeveloped pieces of property at the busy intersection.
"The site is 66 acres. You don't find a lot that big in the United States anymore except in extremely rural areas," said developer Michael Tavel of Premier.
"This is the corner of First and Main as far as Fairfield Township is concerned.
"We don't believe there is any better place in the township to be."
Tavel said a traffic count on the development would not be available until today's meeting; township officials also did not have a figure on Monday.
Township officials are hoping for two additional traffic lights along Princeton Road between Morris Road and Ohio Bypass 4.
They also want the complex's entrance and exit to line up with the entrance to Lakewood subdivision off Princeton Road.
In addition to traffic concerns, some residents say -while they likely would patronize the new development - they dread seeing the loss of more green space.
"I thought I was moving to the country," said Frances Cann, who moved from North College Hill more than two years ago.
"I didn't mind driving a little distance to Kroger or to do shopping."
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