A six-story apartment complex that includes first-floor retail near the University of Kentucky’s campus won approval from Lexington’s planning board Thursday.
The Urban County Planning Commission unanimously approved a zone change from neighborhood residential to neighborhood business for 1.8 acres of property located at the northwest corner of Limestone Street and Virginia Avenue for the complex, called the Hub II.
The building will include 190 apartments with 574 beds and more than 11,800 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. UK students are expected to be the primary tenants of the development, which is a short walk from the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.
Plans call for a roof-top pool and interior courtyards. A 77,000-square-foot garage will have between 160 and 167 parking spaces. The primary entrance into the 2.5-story parking garage will be on Virginia Avenue. There also will an entrance off Maxwelton Court.
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The developers, Core Spaces of Chicago, have agreed to give the city enough land to add a right turn lane southbound on Limestone, making it easier and faster to turn onto Virginia Avenue.
No one opposed the zone change Thursday. It now goes to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council for its approval.
Much of the discussion during Thursday’s meeting focused on parking and traffic. The design allows people to turn left onto Virginia Avenue from the garage, but that will be almost impossible during rush hour, many commission members said. Core Spaces officials said the Maxwelton Court exit will allow residents to get to Limestone during rush hour.
Core Spaces has similar buildings in 22 other cities. The students who live typically only move their cars a few times a week, said Richard Murphy, a lawyer who represents Core Spaces.
Because the property is so close to campus “they know that they will not have to use their cars,” he said.
About 30 parking spaces will be reserved for commercial retailers, leaving about 133 spaces for residents who live there.
Approximately 42 percent of undergraduate students have a car on campus. About 12 percent have parking within walking distance of their dorm and 31 percent park at Kroger Field.
“Our students would also be allowed to park at Kroger Field,” Murphy said. “We feel that this will give us all the parking we need.”
“I don’t think using UK (numbers) is apples to apples,” said planning commissioner Will Berkley.
Students who live on campus are typically freshman and sophomores. It’s upperclassmen who will likely be living at the Hub II and they typically want and use cars, Berkley said.
Planning Commissioner Karen Mundy said she didn’t think parking would be a problem. Student housing is different than typical apartments.
“It’s a different project,” Mundy said.
In addition to the zone change, the commission also approved a variance to decrease the required parking to 160.
Core Spaces also wants to build a five- and six-story apartment and retail complex between Jersey and Upper streets. Members of the Historic South Hill neighborhood have opposed the 489-bed complex and say it’s too tall and has too few parking spaces. The planning commission delayed taking a vote on the Jersey Street project earlier this month and is expected to revisit the proposal next month.
Core Spaces specializes in what it calls “high-end” student housing in 22 college towns, such as Madison, Wis.
Core Spaces obtained the two properties as part of a land swap with UK. Once the deal is finalized, Core Spaces will give UK two parcels of land on Winslow Street between South Limestone and Upper streets. Kennedy’s Wildcat Den and a former fast food restaurant currently sit on that site.
UK has tried to acquire the block for years. It has not yet said what it will do with the property. In a separate transaction, UK also purchased a parcel of land on South Limestone and Scott streets for $1.15 million. That land will become a parking lot that will replace the parking lot that is on Jersey Street.