The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Thursday granted preliminary approval to tax increment financing for a $72 million project that includes a 31.7 acre site around Lexington's Midland Avenue corridor.
That's a first step in a redevelopment that will narrow the corridor's car lanes, add bike lanes and slow down its traffic flow. The project will also add retail and business and residential development.
Preliminary approval means that state government can create criteria for a consultant to review the project's feasibility, appropriateness of use of the TIF program — which uses future tax revenue to pay for improvements — and whether the project represents a net positive impact to the state.
The Midland project will include 40,000 square feet of leasable mixed-use retail space; 27,000 square feet of leasable mixed-use restaurant space; 70,000 square feet of office space; and 190,000 square feet of multi-family residential space.
Developer Phil Holoubek described the project as one that will change the character of the Midland corridor from its current speedway of cars linking from Winchester Road and Third Street to Main into a residential, restaurant and small business corridor that better links neighborhoods.
Midland Avenue is now a wall between the East End and neighborhoods such as Walton Avenue and Bell Court, Holoubek said, because the traffic doesn't allow for pedestrians to cross it. That's why improvements to Midland Avenue are so important, he said.
"Midland Avenue now ... is not pedestrian friendly, and as a result of that ... there hasn't been development there for years," Holoubek said Thursday.
The Herald-Leader building has been a resident of 100 Midland Ave., between Main and Midland, for the last 35 years. It is not included in the Midland redevelopment plan.
When renovated, the area is estimated to support 800 jobs and result in new state and local taxes over a 20-year period in excess of $34.9 million. Infrastructure costs are approximately $17 million and include land preparation, curbs, sidewalks, road improvements, utilities, street lighting, public parking, storm and sanitary sewer improvements, and public spaces and parks.
"That road is valuable space for more than just cars," Holoubek said. " ... Midland Avenue itself needs a lot of help."