Residents question developers about proposed hotel near Nicholasville Rd.

jwarren@herald-leader.comSeptember 4, 2012 

Residents peppered developers with questions at a meeting Tuesday night about a proposed 105-room, five-story Hampton Inn planned near Nicholasville Road and Southland Drive.

Among other things, residents raised concerns about how traffic would get into and out of the hotel parking lot; crowds there during University of Kentucky football games; and how the project might change the overall character of the area.

Francois Pomerleau, president of the WGPL Neighborhood Association (Washburn Drive-Goodrich Avenue-Pensacola Drive-Lackawanna Road) argued that the height of the five-story hotel is a key issue. It would cause the value of at least some homes on Goodrich to "go down tremendously," he argued.

Some others said that not everyone in the neighborhood is opposed to the development.

One woman in the audience summed up the general feeling among residents.

"We love our neighborhood," she said. "It's quiet; it's not a rich neighborhood; but it's a wonderful neighborhood. We're afraid it's going to change."

Developer Phil Greer, who with his son Lee Greer, wants to develop the hotel, said they hope to build something the neighborhood will like, and that they want to hear residents' concerns.

"I'm listening to you," he said at one point.

More than 40 people turned out for the meeting at Hunter Presbyterian Church. The proposed hotel site is on the west side of Nicholasville Road, just north of Southland Drive.

It's expected that much of the hotel's business would come from people visiting Central Baptist Hospital, the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital or the Veterans Administration Medical Center, all of which are nearby.

The Greers have applied to rezone the site from its current B1 retail designation to "restricted B3" to make way for the proposed hotel.

Phil Greer noted Tuesday night that they could simply redevelop the property under its existing zoning, and place any operation on the site that is allowed under B1. But he insisted that any such development would be much more intrusive than the proposed hotel they prefer to build.

Greer contended, for example, that because of the hotel's size it would only generate between 100 and 200 car trips per day, compared to about 1,200 trips per day for a Cheddar's restaurant. Other features of the proposed project — such as underground storm water retention that could cut runoff rates by 50 percent — would actually enhance the property values of neighbors who now live in a flood plain, he said.

When residents raised questions about how much water the hotel would use, Phil Greer responded that it "wouldn't be nearly as much" as the amount now used by a Denny's restaurant located next door.

Greer said he was surprised by many of the questions raised, stating that he had thought residents would be "elated" by the hotel proposal.

Residents said they wanted facts and figures to support the developers' various assertions about the project. Attorney Bruce Simpson, who represents the Greers, said information would be provided.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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