A Fayette County planning body delayed making a decision Thursday on whether to approve a 489-bed, mid-rise student apartment building near the University of Kentucky campus.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted Thursday to delay making decision until Oct. 12 on a development plan by Core Spaces for a five and six-story apartment complex called the Hub at 500 S. Upper. The project includes a little less than 20,000 square-feet retail on the ground floor and 161 apartments. The block is currently a parking lot.
Planning Commission member Will Berkley made the motion to delay the hearing until the October meeting because he said he wanted additional information from Core Spaces about parking at its apartment complexes in other cities.
The commission agreed to continue debate on the Core Spaces development after a more than three-hour hearing Thursday where neighbors said the development was too tall, had too few parking spaces and was a bad fit for the historic character of the neighborhood.
If the planning commission gives its approval in October, the developers still must go to the Board of Adjustment to get a variance because the project currently only has 148 parking spaces, less than the 213 spaces required.
The plans also include a rooftop terrace and pool. The building will be five stories closest to Pine and six stories for the remaining part of the building.
Chicago-based Core Spaces has proposed two apartment and retail complexes — one on Upper and Jersey streets and a second one on Virginia and Limestone near the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. A zone change for the Virginia and Limestone avenues property will be heard by the planning commission later this month.
Richard Murphy, a lawyer for Core Spaces, told the planning commission Core Spaces has developed several high-end apartment complexes in college towns in other states.
“They have done about 22 projects across the country,” Murphy said. “Their goal is to be close to campus; they provide high-quality development and high-end amenities.”
The development called the Hub will be closer to the core of campus then many university-owned student dorms.
“We are very close to an agreement with a national retailer with a grocery,” Murphy said. He could not say who that retailer was. Neighbors have been told it is a new type of Target. Target officials have not returned phone calls.
Murphy said Core Spaces decreased the number of bedrooms, increased the number of parking spaces and decreased the height to five stories on one side to address neighbors’ concerns.
The height of the proposed building is not out of character for the area, he said.
Nathan Billings, a lawyer who represents the Historic South Hill neighborhood, asked the commission to turn down the Core Spaces plan.
“The scale and mass of this building does not complement the character of the neighborhood area,” Billings said. Historic South Hill is not being unreasonable, he contended. It supported the Center Court development, a four-story mixed-use development on South Upper Street.
But the Hub at 500 S. Upper is “massive and does not have enough parking,” Billings said.
An official with Core Spaces said the closer their complexes are to campus, the fewer parking spaces needed. Murphy, however, said Thursday he would like to address the parking concerns at the meeting in October.
Jennifer Coffman, a retired federal judge, said she moved to Historic South Hill because she wanted to walk to work.
“This is a unique neighborhood,” Coffman said. “I want infill and development...but I want good development. Look at Center Court.”
In addition to many South Hill residents, a local preservation group also spoke against the project Thursday. Bill Johnston, president of the board of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, said the historic preservation group also did not support the development.