Residents near a proposed new shopping center along Nicholasville Road criticized the development at a public meeting Tuesday night.
The Summit Lexington, which is being developed by the company behind The Summit Louisville shopping center, would sit on a long-undeveloped property at Nicholasville Road and Man o' War Boulevard.
"Believe it or not, I can see the stars from my backyard," said Irvin Damron III. "I just don't want to know they're there, and I think everybody kind of feels that way."
The meeting was the first by developer Bayer Properties with the property's neighbors, some of whom have already circulated a petition opposing the project. The petition encourages people to call the city Planning Commission and voice their disapproval of the project.
David Silverstein, principal of Bayer Properties, said he thought that once most residents understand his company's track record and the type of project the company is seeking to bring to the area, "they will be pleased to have this type of development suggested for the site."
But the development was met with skepticism by some of the 50 or so residents of the area in attendance Tuesday. They voiced concerns about traffic congestion, security and light and noise pollution.
Kathy Estepp, who lives along Tiverton Way, said that two planned entrances off Tiverton would make it difficult for her to get in and out the street.
"It's going to be horrendous," she said. "Nobody would want to live here. Certainly not me."
Silverstein told the group that his team would consider the neighbors' concerns and try to make adjustments if possible. But, he said, the site will be developed, whether The Summit or something else is built. Silverstein has said The Summit Lexington will be an eye-pleasing shopping center.
"It'll have beautiful architecture, lovely landscaping, and our goal is to bring to Lexington retail that's not otherwise here," he has said.
Silverstein said the company is not yet ready to announce any retailers that would locate in the shopping center, which is expected to cost between $85 million and $100 million and open by fall 2015.
"Our company has always taken the position that we don't announce particular retailers until the lease is fully executed," Silverstein said. "And we normally don't announce the retail makeup until we have a substantial number of retailers that have executed their leases."
Retail space at The Summit Lexington is planned to be between 450,000 and 500,000 square feet. It's also expected to have 250,000 square feet of residential space, which Silverstein said is now planned as 250 to 300 rental units above the retail space. It's possible that a hotel might be included.
The property will be down the road from Fayette Mall, Lexington's perennial retail powerhouse. The plan for The Summit Lexington comes as another Nicholasville Road shopping center, The Mall at Lexington Green, is reinventing itself as a fashion-focused retail center by luring Anthropologie and others.
Silverstein said a number of companies that are not in Lexington would look here to expand. While he won't confirm whether any are interested in Lexington, he has named retailers and restaurants that are in other Summit developments but not in Lexington. Among them are the Brooks Brothers and Vineyard Vines clothing chains, California Pizza Kitchen restaurant and Saks Fifth Avenue department store.
The shopping center would complete development on the interior of that section of Man o' War Boulevard and would end a decades-long saga that saw the property owners, the Fritz family, ask that the agricultural property be zoned for development.
While other landowners had sold nearby farmland to developers, the Fritz farm was zoned only for residential use, which the family thought would not bring as high a price as property designated for commercial use.
The sale of the roughly 50-acre property is contingent on the city approving the required zoning change. The proposed sale price for the property, which is assessed at more than $5 million, has not been disclosed.