The Red Mile's Standardbred racetrack has a contract to sell 10 acres facing South Broadway, including the former Tattersalls sales pavilion, where a developer plans a major student housing project.
Hallmark Campus Communities of Columbus, Ohio, proposes to build an 832-bed project with four four-story buildings, a swimming pool, a pool house with an exercise center, and outdoor volleyball and basketball courts.
Each single, double, triple and fourplex unit will be provided a washer and dryer, and each bedroom will have a private bath. No retail is planned.
A principal partner in the Hallmark project was a principal in Newtown Crossing, also on South Broadway, which opened in 2005 with 340 apartments targeting the University of Kentucky student market, said James H. Frazier III, a Lexington attorney representing Hallmark.
The company filed a request Monday with Lexington's planning staff to change the zoning at the Tattersalls site from warehouse to R-5 high-density residential. The agreed sales price was not disclosed.
Hallmark's application will be reviewed Nov. 3 by the zoning committee of the planning commission. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17, and the planning commission will then make a recommendation to the Urban County Council.
If everything goes smoothly, Frazier said, "We hope to be through the zoning change in 120 days."
Construction is scheduled to start in 2012, and the complex would be open for students in fall 2013.
Selling Tattersalls and 10 acres was not a difficult decision for the Standardbred track, said Joe Costa, president and chief executive of The Red Mile. For the Past five years, The Red Mile has sold Standardbred, Saddlebred and quarter horses under its sales company name at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, 2400 Newtown Pike.
An evaluation of the Tattersalls building last winter found it "not in great shape," Costa said. Renovation costs to make the building functional and attractive to consignors were "excessive."
"The question became, do we renovate and brings sales back to The Red Mile, or stay at Fasig-Tipton?" Costa said. The track extended its lease to sell at Fasig-Tipton, "which meant the Tattersall property had very limited use for us going forward."
Three development companies approached the track wanting to buy land for student housing, Costa said.
At least six large residential complexes have opened on the west side of the UK campus since 2005, reshaping an area traditionally known for tobacco warehouses, older houses and historic districts.
One complex on Angliana Avenue, on the site of a former tobacco warehouse that backs up to the Red Mile, has more than 1,100 beds.
Developing Lexington's South Broadway corridor — just west of the University of Kentucky campus — and Red Mile Road fits with the track's vision for redeveloping its front 65 acres for retail, bars and restaurants, a drugstore, a bank, offices, a jogging and bike trail, and housing.
That parcel, now mostly a parking lot and green space between Red Mile Road and the back of the Red Mile grandstand, has been rezoned for mixed-used development.
A development plan by Urban Collage has received state approval for tax-increment financing. "We are ready to go. We're just waiting for the private sector," Costa said.
"We are in a college town and close to the UK campus," he said. About the Tattersall property, Costa said, "Of all the things we could do, I think this fits our future vision."
Driving this off-campus housing boom is a generation of college students who want amenities not found in 40-year-old dormitories or in older houses in neighborhoods near UK, where students have lived for decades.
They come with a different perspective than students had a generation ago, said Frazier, the attorney for Hallmark. They typically have had their own bedroom at home growing up. They did not have to share a bathroom. They want the same amenities at college that they had at home, he said.
Private developers have responded to student demands with apartments equipped with dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, internet and cable access, panic alarms, smoke detectors and sprinklers. Some complexes have a movie theater, a fitness center, a study hall, an outdoor pool, tanning beds and outdoor grills.
Only about 23 percent of UK students live on campus; most of them are freshmen.
"The remaining 22,000 students live somewhere off campus," Tony Blanton, director of off-campus student services, wrote via email.
"The market will determine whether new housing is needed in any particular area. However, it is always good to see new, safe housing being built near our campus. We want our students to have several housing options available to them," Blanton said.