Lexington's planning commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve a redevelopment plan for Fayette Mall that includes new retail and restaurant space.
The plan calls for the owners of the region's largest mall — CBL & Associates Properties — to redevelop the space now occupied by Sears, which sold the anchor spot to CBL earlier this summer. Sears has announced that it will close the store near the mall's main entrance. It is the only Sears in Central Kentucky.
Darby Turner, who represents CBL & Associates, said construction will likely start after the Christmas season.
Turner said the company was not yet ready to say what tenants would go into new retail and restaurant spaces at the Sears site.
Currently people have to walk through the Sears store to go between the Macy's and Dillard's wings of the mall.
The remodel will allow for a traditional retail corridor connecting the Dillard's and Macy's wings, Turner said..
The two-story Sears store has about 150,000 square feet and is one of the mall's major anchors, along with Macy's, Dillard's, J.C. Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods.
Sears Auto Center, a detached building in front of the Sears store, will be torn down and converted to parking, mall officials have said.
The plans approved by the commission Thursday also include a 10,000-square-foot restaurant in the parking lot near Macy's at West Reynolds and Nicholasville roads.
No net retail square footage would be added to the mall through the redevelopment.
The only major concern raised by city planners involved public transportation at the busy regional mall.
Currently, the only bus stop is near Dick's at the back of the mall.
Under the proposal approved on Thursday, a new bus stop will be located on the Nicholasville Road side of the property. Plans call for a sidewalk with grass on either side to protect pedestrians leaving the mall entrance and walking to the new bus stop.
No one spoke in opposition to the project during Thursday's planning commission meeting.
The Fayette Mall remodel is the latest major project announced for the busy Nicholasville Road commercial corridor.
The planning commission approved zoning changes for The Summit, a 50-acre commercial-residential development at Nicholasville Road and Man o' War Boulevard, south of Fayette Mall, earlier this summer. The Urban County Council will hold a public hearing on that zoning change Tuesday.
The Summit's developers, Bayer Properties, have indicated they want to attract some upscale retailers that do not have a Lexington presence.
Also on Thursday, the commission voted 6-4 to approve plans for the Cook-Out, a fast-food restaurant chain, at 818 South Broadway in the former location of the Coach House.
Cook-Out — which is popular in college towns in North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia— serves burgers and is known for its milk shakes.