New city parking garage expected to anchor mixed-use project near Thoroughbred Park

jmadden@herald-leader.comApril 21, 2014 

Approval of a new downtown parking garage will be a catalyst for a long-awaited mixed-use project at East Main and East Vine streets and Midland Avenue, a downtown developer said Monday.

The parking garage, which will be built in the center of the proposed development, will be enveloped by retail stores, restaurants and apartments at Main & Vine Lofts, the proposed development across from Thoroughbred Park.

"Without a parking garage, it is difficult or impossible to build anything more than single-story buildings, because there is nowhere to park people," developer Phil Holoubek said. "And, studies have shown that people will only walk 800 feet from their parking space to their office desk ... and even less distance to a residential unit or retail location."

Gary Means, executive director of the Parking Authority, said the garage would have 150 to 160 parking spaces and cost about $2.9 million. Means said there would be monthly, daily and nightly parking rates.

LexPark owns and operates four downtown parking garages, and Means said an additional parking garage would be for the "greater good."

"The greater good is that we are actually creating additional parking for the East End (of downtown), and it really establishes the opportunity for more development," Means said.

James Frazier, a member of the LexPark board, said the parking garage was considered a necessity. It will complement the development, and surveys and research done by the Parking Authority concluded it was needed. The board voted Friday to build the garage. LexPark is the Parking Authority's enforcement arm.

Designs of the garage and retail space were not available.

Frazier said work on the parking garage was in its preliminary stages. The board's vote was a start on what needs to be done.

"There are a lot of entanglements," he said. "It's a first step of acknowledging the need and trying to assist in the development of that end of town, but there are many hoops to jump through."

News of a possible garage comes four years after the announcement that plans for a CVS pharmacy at the side had stalled. That project came to halt after crews discovered a junction box of underground electrical lines that provide services to downtown.

Holoubek said the junction box wouldn't be an issue with the current plans.

The empty lot was once home to the Integra Bank building and Heritage Antiques.

The proposed development is estimated to cost $10 million. It will be about 50,000 square feet, with 15,000 square feet of retail space and 50 rental apartments that might be converted into condos.

Holoubek said the Main & Vine Lofts would be similar to — but smaller than — the mixed-use project at Main and Rose streets.

Holoubek said the building would be four or five stories and eventually be part of Town Branch Commons, a proposed park that would run through downtown Lexington. The Town Branch Commons concept integrates history, geology and development into a thread of new public spaces. Much of Town Branch currently is buried under Vine Street.

Holoubek said crews would break ground this year and finish the project in about a year.

Once the project is completed, he said, the development would generate more than $350,000 a year in taxes. About $100,000O would be in property taxes. The mixed-use project on Main and Rose is the number one property tax generator in downtown Lexington, he said.

Details of the development have not fully evolved, because designs couldn't be made until the vote on the garage, Holoubek said.

However, there is a site plan that includes the building and the garage, he said.

"Once we've got that site plan in place," Holoubek said, "we'll meet with our architects and start to determine the look and feel of the building ... once we have the elevation in place we'll start to recruit specific retail tenants for the space."

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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