I have written about the Liberty Center development for a long time because I had the fortune of knowing quite a lot about it during the early stages, and have been fascinated by the people building it. I have had the opportunity to travel a lot and know what’s out there, and what’s good and bad about the places I’ve been. Of course since it is in my community I have spent a considerable amount of time there over the last week—and I have to say that I really enjoy it. But if people want a politically correct review of Liberty Center, they can go to the Chamber sites, or read about it in the newspaper. Since my concerns are more philosophically based regarding humanity, and I’m not so concerned about my social status within my community—I can say things that other people can’t—so I will in regard to the monstrous success that Liberty Center has seen during its first week of operation, and the subsequent months and years that it will enjoy, articulate the reason and necessity for its construction.
Lately as I puzzled through my thoughts about Liberty Center I spent some time in downtown Cincinnati. After a recent Bengal game my family walked around the Banks development just as we have enjoyed Newport on the Levy a lot over the years. I have also spent considerable time at Fountain Square, Mt. Adams, Kenwood, Eastgate, Florence and many other places that I consider to be quality “living centers” where shopping complexes and living are brought together in unique ways. I also have the fortune to have in-laws who live in one of the most unusual communities I’ve ever seen in Brevard County, Kentucky right near the intersection of I-265 and I-71. Most of the homes are million dollar bits of real-estate that contain their own office park, shopping and restaurant experience providing a very self-contained experience. Residents can go to the doctor, shop, eat and live within a mile of their home and crime is non-existent. If some slug walks around that community, there is security that runs them out post-haste—no fooling around. You don’t see slackers standing around on street corners, you don’t hear cursing, and you don’t get “undesirables.”
What are undesirables? Well let me define it for you with an example of the new Over-the-Rhine renovations that the city of Cincinnati has spent a lot of money trying to resurrect. My daughter is a professional photographer who spends a lot of time there because people want to capture the history of the area with a photographers spin on the topic of downtown. Her customers want the romance of downtown without the garbage. What her camera doesn’t pick up are the thugs standing on street corners with their pants half down cursing every other word making embarrassments of themselves. Yes Cincinnati has a nice streetcar they are building, yes Over-the-Rhine has been cleaned up a bit—they have some nice restaurants, and during the days it’s a pretty nice place-now. But there are still undesirables standing around everywhere—and that’s not race related activity. If people like Ben Carson were standing on the street corner there would be no problem. But when people who look and act like they want to kill you are standing around looking like detrimental thugs it takes away the fun of going out on the town. Undesirables are people who have personal conduct that is equitable to animal behavior—where their primary objectives are sexual pursuits and pecking order mentality. People of a higher level in life don’t want to deal with undesirables—because they have other things on their mind than just primal desires.
Liberty Center understood this problem from day one in their design. They intended to do something similar to the development I mentioned in Kentucky—which is primarily occupied by horse racing families close to the sport—certainly the upper crest of Louisville society—and do something on a much larger scale in Liberty Township. The residential buildings at Liberty Center are all around five stories to give the illusion down below that people walking on the streets are within a city-scape. The buildings are positioned around the shopping complex so that the area within feels removed from the rural landscape on the outside. Also, useable living space is stacked to utilize bridges and staircases to provide the illusion that there is more complexity to the area than there really is, which is actually a video game programming trick that is quite effective to giving the impression that there is a lot more to something. For what Liberty Center is trying to do, it’s enormously effective.
The sum of the experience is to provide a city simulation without the crime and displeasure of an actual urban environment. My mom for instance stopped going to Tri-County over ten years ago when undesirables essentially pushed her out. I know many people who won’t even go the Costco in Tri-County just because they are afraid of the type of people who now reside around that old shopping district. Undesirables come in all shapes, sizes, sexes and colors—but what they all have in common is that they function from the basic animal instincts of a pubescent teenager. Teenagers are supposed to grow out of that phase with careful parental supervision, but in our society of today—where being a forever teenager is desired, there are just too many people out there who are grown-up teenagers functioning from raw animal instincts, and older people with money and success in their life don’t want to be around those low life scum bags.
After working really hard at your life and making smart decisions—it is fun to dress up with your spouse and go have a nice dinner—and a movie. Liberty Center allows me to take my wife to a nice place and be around nice people. I can go to a movie where only adults can attend, who are older than 21 keeping the teenagers out, so you don’t have to worry about bratty kids kicking the back of your seat, or giggling at boobies on the theater screen. You get to have an experience free of undesirables as much as possible. It’s a free country so low life scum bags can come to Liberty Center, but unlike a real city ran by progressive city governments, the shopping complex is privately owned as opposed to publicly owned. Liberty Center management can hire their own security to make sure that nobody causes any trouble as they are more competent than a city council or a mayor to deal with such issues.
The real benefit of Liberty Center is that it’s a private enterprise managed by competent people who are motivated by profit as opposed to elected bureaucrats. It will stay looking nice and will give everyone what they want from a city without the mess of mismanagement. Liberty Township doesn’t even have a police department which is wonderful. Trustees aren’t running Liberty Center; they just enjoy it with everyone else. The Steiner Group runs the place, and that puts it in the hands of competent management who provide their own security—much better than a bunch of unionized, expensive government workers who are politically accountable to a mayor and city manager. The presence of competency is what makes Liberty Center feel different. It’s not a public park or a community owned monstrosity where thugs, derelicts and panhandlers will be allowed to accost the affluent from Wetherington. Those types of people will not be allowed to bring down the level of quality within Liberty Center. In America being a derelict is a choice. There are too many opportunities for people, all it requires is for people to reach out and grab them. For those too lazy to reach for anything, they will become undesirables because they are parasites on those who aren’t lethargic.
I remember well what it was like when Forest Fair Mall opened over two decades ago. It was like Liberty Center in many ways—it had high hopes of appealing to the upper-class while maintaining the lofty goal of elevating the standard of living for Forest Park and Fairfield. Unfortunately, people who work hard to have money do not like conversing with people who are on welfare, or are just plain lazy, and the two demographics just didn’t mix. The money went to Tri-County for another ten years, or to Kenwood. Forest Fair Mall died slowly because the people around the community were not the type of people who financially affluent people wanted to spend their leisure time with. People are not just people—some are better than others and that is usually determined by their ambition. The Mall was directly reliant on city governments to create the demographic who would shop at their establishment, and the politicians screwed it up. The Mall out of desperation turned toward the nightclub crowd to bring life back to the once promising palace. But that brought more undesirables and pushed out the money. Soon all the Mall had to offer were cheap pieces of crap aimed at teenagers or adults who wanted to be teenagers leaving everyone else to shop somewhere else.
Liberty Center is not reliant on city government for its success. They bring their own management to both living and commercial enterprises and take care of both. And like everything else, things run better as a private sector enterprise than they do as public endeavors. The local government gets to collect a little bit more tax money each year, but they don’t have to make any management decisions about the complex itself. That’s up to Steiner’s people and they are a whole lot more motivated to make sure consumers get what they want—as opposed to professional politicians who seek to coddle the masses to get votes to stay in office. In a lot of ways Liberty Center is a creation out of necessity. People don’t want to associate with undesirables. They want to be around people with shared values and Liberty Center promises that type of experience, without the hassle of low-level people. Not everyone in the world is equal. Some people work harder and more valiantly than others and they deserve a place to go where they can enjoy life. For them, Liberty Center is that place. They get all the benefits of a city without the hassle of cat-calls, and panhandling. And for people in Liberty Township who have been losing their children to the exotic nightlife of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Liberty Center has just given those kids an alternative without being too far away from home and can have all the fun without the downsides of crime. It is the way of the future, and the reason for it is a direct response to the gross mismanagement of public officials as opposed to private ones. That is why Liberty Center is so special and why it will become the standard everyone else in the future will have to live by. Cities will have to clean up their act or they will lose everything to private sector driven developments—which is fine with me.
Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman