Hampton Inn hotel planned for Nicholasville Road-Southland Drive area

ctruman@herald-leader.comAugust 30, 2012 

Lexington developers Phil and Lee Greer plan to build a 105-room, five-story Hampton Inn near Southland Drive and Nicholasvillle Road.

The Greers, who develop restaurants and hotels in seven states, will need a zone change before starting work on the planned hotel, projected to cost $14 million to $15 million. The property is zoned B1 retail and would need a change to B3, which includes highway business and retail.

The requested designation would be "restricted B3" to allow for the hotel, said Bruce Simpson, a Lexington attorney representing the Greers in the zone change.

The Denny's restaurant at 1949 Nicholasville Road will remain, Phil Greer said Thursday. The restaurant has a five-year lease.

Greer, who has four other Hampton Inns in various states, said he hopes to open the new hotel in late 2013.

The hotel and Denny's will share a parking lot with 172 spaces, according to the plan.

The intended market for the Hampton Inn, part of the Hilton Worldwide Portfolio hotel chain, is easy to see from driving down Nicholasville Road/South Limestone: the hundreds of out-of-towners coming to three hospitals in the area. Nearby are Central Baptist Hospital, which is under expansion; the recently enlarged University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital; and the Veterans Administration Medical Center facility off Cooper Drive.

Ruth Ann Childers, a spokeswoman for Central Baptist, said the hotel would be a welcome addition.

"As 60 percent of our patients travel to us for care from outside of Fayette County, we believe this will be a positive benefit for them," Childers wrote in an email. "One of our most popular outpatient centers is located on the opposite corner, our home health agency is located on another corner, and the hospital is a short walk from there. ... It is a convenient location for visitors, families and patients."

Few hotels in area

Greer said the need for accommodations in the area is obvious. The closest hotels are University Inn at Waller Avenue and Nicholasville Road and a Holiday Inn Express at 1000 Export Street, off Virginia Avenue.

Hilton Lexington Suites is farther south, off Nicholasville Road near The Mall at Lexington Green.

The Hampton Inn would include a privacy fence, numerous landscaping islands and a row of evergreens. None of the hotel rooms would overlook the residential neighborhood nearby.

Simpson said the hotel also would include underground water tanks that function like ground-level detention basins. That should help address possible neighborhood concerns about stormwater runoff, he said.

The parcel to be developed now houses an office building once occupied by the Jerrico company, which was then the parent of Long John Silver's. The Denny's parcel was a Jerry's restaurant for many years, also owned by Jerrico.


View Hampton Inn near Central Baptist Hospital in a larger map

Greer and Simpson said the area, which includes a mix of small stores and service businesses, does not have landscaping or a storm-drainage plan now.

Simpson said Greer's representatives would meet with residents of nearby neighborhoods next week at a time to be announced at Hunter Presbyterian Church, 109 Rosemont Garden, to solicit input on the project.

Simpson and Greer said they have tried to be sensitive to anticipated neighborhood concerns and are trying to determine what additional questions should be addressed.

Simpson said he hoped residents see "the degree of sensitivity that we have undertaken to be a good neighbor."

The hotel's signage would be on Nicholasville Road, with the building set back in the Southland Drive area.

There are two Hampton Inns in Lexington now — off Beaumont Circle and near Winchester Road and Interstate 75 — and several in Central Kentucky.

Active in development

The Greers are principals in the Greer Cos., a commercial real estate development firm that is a franchisee of dining and hotel chains, including Cheddar's Casual Café, and Marriott and Hilton hotels. It employs nearly 2,500 people across seven states. This year, Lee Greer said the company was launching its first original restaurant concept, to open this year at Lexington's Idle Hour Shopping Center.

An annual survey compiled for Business Travel News ranked Hampton Inn tops in a variety of quality measures in 2010. Hampton Inn fell to a fifth-place tie with Choice Hotels' Comfort Inn in the 2011 survey, although Hampton rated highest among buyers who arrange individual travel and for its staff friendliness.

The Southland Drive area is becoming a hot spot for redevelopment. In May, the HealthFirst Bluegrass board of directors voted to create a clinic in two buildings on Southland Drive. The HealthFirst primary care clinic, supported mainly by taxpayer dollars, will serve about 17,000 patients a year.

Southland Drive-area residents have expressed concerns over traffic, parking, sewage and those who will be using the public health clinic.

Phil Greer said the area surrounding the Hampton Inn might be the site of future redevelopment. The Greers' Hampton Inn "is going to be an improvement, I hope," he said.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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