South Broadway is booming with restaurants, hospitality, apartments

Newtown Crossing Apartments overlook South Broadway in Lexington. South Broadway corridor has grown in the past decade with construction apartments and restaurants.
Newtown Crossing Apartments overlook South Broadway in Lexington. South Broadway corridor has grown in the past decade with construction apartments and restaurants.

When you consider Lexington neighborhoods inside New Circle Road that have re-invented themselves, you may think about North Limestone and Southland Drive.

But there’s another thriving area in Lexington — the South Broadway-Harrodsburg Road corridor between High Street and the former Turfland Mall.

Assuming the 12-screen Krikorian Theatre planned for the corner of High Street and South Broadway is built, South Broadway would be hopping anyway. But even though no timeline for the theater has been established — save for a long-standing, attention-grabbing sign — the area to the south of the proposed theater project is awash with development.

During the last ten to 15 years, housing projects have sprung up in areas that formerly were dominated by tobacco warehouses and the old train station.

Among the newer projects are The Lex, The Village at South Broadway, and Newtown Crossing, all of which take advantage of the area’s proximity to the University of Kentucky.

Developer Jeff Morgan, who built 20 townhomes along South Broadway, saw them sell out quickly — at a price point that started in the high $200,000s and went into the $300,000 range. Morgan’s family also opened a new three-story JDI Grille and Tavern on South Broadway in 2013.

“I wish we had more of the townhomes,” said Tyce McCullough, who marketed the townhomes for Morgan. “There was quite a demand as we were coming down the home stretch. That kind of area, kind of where downtown and campus meet, I think was wildly successful.”

Morgan is now building two new developments, on the site of the old A1A building and on the corner of Jefferson and Maryland.

Tolly Ho, the venerable 24-hour grill, moved five years ago from its location on South Limestone to a former dry cleaner’s building on South Broadway, and is now busier than ever. They even do wedding receptions, in a back room that can hold 40 people. Tolly Ho has 178 seats total.

“Business-wise, the move has helped tremendously,” said manager Jennifer Doney, especially since the South Broadway spot came with a parking lot. “You wouldn’t believe the line at bar-time closing. Friday, Saturday and Sunday they still line up down to the road.”

In 2014, Cook-Out moved in at 855 South Broadway on the site of the former Coach House Restaurant. Behind Cook-Out is a recently developed complex that includes Big Shake’s Hot Chicken, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pie Five Pizza and Red Mango/Nestle Toll House.

A Lucky’s grocery store, designed to appeal to organic-conscious consumers and students, opened this year in the space formerly occupied by Winn Dixie.

Fayette PVA David O’Neill said the growth is not just on the South Broadway/Harrodsburg corridor itself, but in the areas around Bob o’ Link, Picadome Mason Headley and other areas around Saint Joseph Hospital.

“What’s really making it hop obviously is the campus activity,” O’Neill said. “We’ve seen $40 million of commercial property transactions … during the last 4-5 years. You’ve got two significant hotels that kind of bookend this road (SpringHill Suites by Marriott at 863 South Broadway and The Campbell House, 1375 South Broadway), and a lot of activity between those two.”

Lexington Clinic’s campus at 1221 South Broadway has stood for decades, but recently it has been joined by two other major medical providers, UK Healthcare at Turfland and offices for Family Practice Associates and Baptist Health Care’s urgent care office at 2040 Harrodsburg Road.

Craig Gillispie, practice administration for FPA, said that the practice, which has its main office in Hamburg, expanded to the Harrodsburg Road area because it is “an excellent fit, due to our existing patients who already live in that area, a large number of young families residing there and access to quality healthcare providers on that end of town.”

Robbin May has lived in a small house on South Broadway Park since the 1980s; when she saw massive infill development headed toward her quiet neighborhood, she was concerned.

“It has changed the whole flavor of the neighborhood, of course,” May said. “We used to know each other — now, not so much. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that they (the apartment dwellers and those who live in subdivided houses nearby) have been good neighbors.”

She thinks her house may be the last single-family dwelling on South Broadway Park.

The traffic nearby is “horrendous,” May said.

Traffic statistics from the state transportation department are inconclusive. They note that in 2010, the area between Virginia and Waller avenues recorded 31,700 cars a day, more than the section around Cardinal Lane/Lafayette recorded in 2013.

May remembers when the South Broadway developments were initially being considered hearing an attorney saying that the expansion would have no impact on current residents.

“I don’t know who did the study, but it’s had major impact,” she said. “It’s not been all bad, it’s not been all good. I’m sure if they bought my little house they’d tear it down and build a parking lot.”

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman