Owners of The Red Mile off South Broadway say they hope that residential and commercial development will give the financially ailing harness track the boost it needs to keep operating.
Conceptual plans for 68 acres of the 132-acre track were unveiled at a public meeting Tuesday night.
■ 150 to 200 condominiums and apartments targeted toward young professionals.
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■ 300,000 square feet of retail and office space.
■ A hiking trail along Red Mile Road, connecting to Town Branch Trail on Old Frankfort Pike.
The concept calls for preserving historic aspects of the track, including the grandstand, the track itself and an octagonal barn called Floral Hall.
The owners are not looking for a quick fix; rather, they want something that will be sustainable and that will support the surrounding community, attorney Bob Duncan said.
The audience on Tuesday raised concerns about increased storm water run-off created by any development, and the need for improved intersections and turn lanes at Red Mile Road and Versailles Road and at Red Mile Road and South Broadway.
Horse owner Myna Sholty criticized a possible access road between The Red Mile and development on Angliana Avenue. "There will not be enough stables. There won't be room for a detention barn, maintenance equipment, horse trailers or a blacksmith," she said. In other words, "They have not allowed enough acreage to put on a race meet."
Stan Harvey, principal in the design firm Urban Collage, said horses could be stabled on Tattersalls Horse Sales property that adjoins The Red Mile.
And Chris King, director of Lexington's Division of Planning, cautioned several times that what was presented was a concept. "It doesn't mean they're going to run out and build it tomorrow," he said.
Terry Bryant, owner of Bryant's Rent-all, located at 875 South Broadway since 1964, liked what he saw. "They've gone about it in the right way, getting a lot of public input," he said.
Scott Smouse, representing the nearby Golfview Estates Neighborhood Association, said, "I think it's going to be great. I just hope they include a grocery store." Smouse added, "I don't see how The Red Mile is going to survive on just racing."
Red Mile owners approached the city several months ago saying they might consider developing part of their land, King told the audience.
King asked whether the track might discuss their ideas for development with neighbors before filing for a zone change.
"We were very pleased that The Red Mile paid attention to that idea," King said.
A working group including planners, city officials, representatives of the track and area businesspeople and residents has met three times. The group will meet once more in the next few weeks to write down their concerns and ideas for the development.
Then The Red Mile will file for a zone change to allow a mixed use development. Reflecting its historic roots, the track is zoned for agriculture.
A zone change must be approved by the Planning Commission and Urban County Council.
A timetable for starting the development would be up to the owners, Duncan said.
The racetrack is in the rare situation of being close to downtown and within walking distance of UK.
"It is in a major urban area that has seen a lot of revitalization in the past couple of years," Harvey said. "The owners want to create a real-estate strategy that will support the racetrack over the long haul."