Controversial property on Trent Boulevard put up for sale

bfortune@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2012 

The Bluegrass Area Development District has put up for sale property on Trent Boulevard that it had bought to house a controversial residential work-training program for ex-felons.

The 6.5-acre tract at 1393 Trent Boulevard, which has eight buildings, went on the market July 12 for $1,170,000, said Ken Silvestri, an owner of Silvestri-Craig Realtors, listing agent for the property.

The real estate company recently launched a marketing campaign suggesting that with its current R-3 zoning, the Trent Boulevard property had potential to be lower-density apartments or senior citizen housing.

"We think it has great potential," Silvestri said. "We're confident we'll find a new use for the space. The location is good."

No one has looked at the property yet, he said.

The Bluegrass Area Development District bought the former Excepticon campus in January for $600,000 from the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington. Excepticon operated the property for developmentally disabled people until it closed in 1999.

The development district spent an additional $500,000 on heat, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical repairs to renovate the buildings.

The proposed ex-felon rehabilitation project has been forcefully opposed by the River Park Neighborhood Association, with residents charging that the development district has not been transparent about its plans or forthcoming with answers to neighbors' questions.

Lenny Stoltz II, executive director of the development district, said Monday that he was directed by the district's finance committee to put the property up for sale.

Asked why, Stoltz said, "It might not be a compatible property for our interests and our projects. If there is someone else interested in purchasing the property, we would like to know."

Stoltz confirmed that the sale of Trent Boulevard was one of three items to be discussed by the executive board in closed session Monday.

After the meeting, Dodd Dixon, a spokesman for the development district, said it was going ahead with plans to find transitional housing and steady employment for ex-offenders. "We would like to use the Trent Boulevard property; otherwise we wouldn't have purchased it. However, we realize there is opposition," he said.

If the property sells, the development district will look for another site somewhere in its 17-county area.

Charles Payne, president of the nearby River Park Neighborhood Association, said on Monday his group did not have a problem with the property being sold.

"It all depends what a potential buyer would be interested in doing there. We hope to be included in that process, more so than this last time around," he said.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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