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UK’s Catholic Newman Center plans changes to its decades-old building

Catholic Newman Center and Holy Spirit Parish at 320 Rose Lane on the University of Kentucky campus. There is a plan to renovate and expand this parish which serves the community of the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington.
Catholic Newman Center and Holy Spirit Parish at 320 Rose Lane on the University of Kentucky campus. There is a plan to renovate and expand this parish which serves the community of the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The Catholic Newman Center, a decades-old fixture on the University of Kentucky campus, is planning for major changes.

The Newman Center, at 320 Rose Lane, filed documents with Lexington urban country government planners announcing its intention to demolish a part of the building and replace it with a larger wing to provide student meeting and activity areas.

In addition, the center needs new doors, siding and probably a new HVAC system, according to Pete Sutherland, the business and facilities manager for the center.

The Newman Center has been open since the 1960s and needs substantial updating, Sutherland said. Students need bigger, more open meeting spaces, and the staff needs offices that are clustered in the same area.

“Our ministry is growing, and we need more room for students,” Sutherland said. “And we’d like to have our offices down one or two hallways.”

To accomplish its plans, the center would need a zone change allowing it to have a larger footprint.

In a letter filed with the city, attorney Richard Murphy said that “it is essential that the Newman Center remain at its current location to fulfill its mission.”

The proposed expansion would allow the center to “better fulfill its mission to provide a dynamic student ministry to the students of the University of Kentucky and continue to provide its ministry to its resident members of the parish (the Holy Spirit Parish).”

The center is also requesting a height variance to allow a third-floor apartment in the building. The new building would be 50 feet tall — which the Newman Center says is comparable with nearby sorority houses.

But don’t expect to see any immediate changes at the center. Murphy’s letter asked that the center be allowed up to five years to initiate construction.

Sutherland said the center would need to raise money for the new construction, as well as make plans based on its fundraising.

“We’re still in such an early stage of it,” he said.

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