Kroger on Euclid Avenue in Lexington received approval Friday from a planning board to tear down a 22-unit apartment building on South Ashland Avenue so the store could add a second entrance and more parking.
The Urban County Government’s Board of Adjustment voted 5 to 1 to grant the store a conditional-use permit. The vote came after a more than two-hour hearing.
Kroger had previously had an entrance on South Ashland but lost it when it built its new, larger store at the same location in 2015. People could not drive through the apartment’s parking lot after the new Kroger opened because it was barricaded. That access was re-opened on Feb. 20.
The apartment is owned by Joe Rosenberg. Kroger will lease the land from Rosenberg once the apartment building is torn down.
Bruce Simpson, a lawyer who represents Kroger, told the Board of Adjustment that tearing down the apartment building would create 36 additional parking spaces and would also re-open a South Ashland entrance and exit. Of those, 23 will be new parking spaces.
“This is not a new access,” Simpson said. Kroger has had access to South Ashland for more than 50 years. “It’s one that has been in existence since 1964.”
Kroger officials said Friday they have had problems getting people to park on the roof of the building and were continuing education efforts to get more shoppers to use the roof. The Euclid Kroger is the only supermarket in Lexington with roof-top parking.
The new Kroger opened in January 2015 after neighbors pressed for changes, making the store’s footprint slightly smaller than Kroger had originally planned. It applied for the conditional-use permit last fall. A hearing before the Board of Adjustment was delayed as Kroger made some changes to its original proposal and completed an updated traffic study.
It added a five-foot sidewalk to allow safer pedestrian access from South Ashland
Neighbors who opposed the plan to tear down Town and Country apartments, which also includes some businesses, said during Friday’s hearing they were concerned about the increase in traffic.
“We are worried about road and traffic control,” said Amy Clark, a member of the Euclid League and Columbia Heights Neighborhood. “Ashland is inadequate to deal with shopping center traffic.”
But Kroger said a recent traffic study showed a dip in cars on South Ashland if the apartment building is torn down.
“Traffic data does not support any adverse impact on the neighbors,” Simpson said. There will be 240 less trips per day because of the loss of the apartment building, he said.
Delivery trucks now come off Marquis Avenue not South Ashland, Simpson said.
But Clark raised questions about how and when the traffic study was done.
Board of Adjustment member Thomas Glover said he had concerns about the high number of walkers and bikers in the area. But he hoped the proposal to add a sidewalk would make it easier for pedestrians to get to the store.
“I think this makes it safer,” he said.
Board of Adjustment member Janice Meyer was the only board member to vote against the conditional use. Meyer said she voted against the proposal because there appeared to be enough parking at the store. People don’t want to park on the roof, she said. The city doesn’t need another parking lot.
Also on Friday, an application for a conditional-use permit to put a coffee shop with a drive-through at 473 East Main Street, adjacent to Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, was postponed until April 28. Developer Phil Greer said the site would host a coffee shop and a retail site. Greer would not say if the coffee shop was going to be a Starbucks but Greer owns other Starbucks in Lexington.