UK buys Northside library to use as research offices

jniemi@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2008 

The University of Kentucky paid $1.2 million Friday to buy Lexington's Northside public library branch building at auction.

UK will use the building intact for offices for an urban research facility located adjacent to the library property. The research is designed to find how native wildlife integrate into an urban environment.

“We own 55 acres behind here and bought the library with the purpose of integrating it with the research facility,” said Frank Butler, UK's executive vice president for finance and administration.

UK's nearby property is the former McCullough dairy farm, which had been donated to the university, Butler said.

The library property was appraised at $1.2 million in 2007, said auctioneer Jamie Bates.

Bidding started at $300,000 and ended at $800,000, with UK submitting the top bid. But that price did not meet the reserve, or minimum, sale price that the Lexington library board had established for the sale.

After UK and the library board caucused separately for about 40 minutes, the deal was reached.

The library will receive the entire $1.2 million because Bates, who also acted as intermediary between UK and the library board, donated his services. The money will be used toward the construction of the new $7.4 million Northside library being built just south of the existing library.

The library board was pleased with the outcome.

“We're delighted,” said Kathleen Imhoff, executive director of the Lexington Public Library. “We're so happy UK got it.”

The existing branch is located at 1737 Russell Cave Road, adjacent to the new library branch, which will open in early September. The property includes the 11,056-square-foot library building, a 2,920-square-foot maintenance building and five acres of land.

The old branch will remain open as a library until about two weeks before the grand opening of the new branch at 11 a.m. on Sept. 12.

According to the public library, the new branch is about 21/2 times as large as the old branch and will include several new features, including additional meeting space, a computer classroom, a teen center, a children's story room, a deli and a digital studio lab. The new library is funded by the Lexington Public Library and a state construction grant.

Imhoff said Friday that the library's next new site will probably be in the Hamburg area.

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