A company called Versailles Land Group LLC has purchased a long-blighted piece of property in Versailles for $1.08 million with the hope of bringing new businesses to town.
The deal closed Friday for 12 acres that once was home to Versailles Flea and Antique Mall, next to McDonald's and United Bank off the U.S. 60 Bypass. The seller was a subsidiary of PBI Bank.
Eli Mashni, a Lexington Realtor and a partner in Versailles Land Group, said the company doesn't have formal plans for the property, but he hopes to "explore the possibility" of attracting a hotel or a regional department store to the site.
"We've been trying to buy this piece of property for about four years," Mashni said. "We finally were able to get it at the price we thought we could make it work."
The nearby Kroger Marketplace that opened in July was an incentive to get the deal done. "Everybody likes to see activity before they jump," Mashni said.
In addition to the former flea market, the property was once home to RadioShack, Sweet Potatoes restaurant, Slone's Market, Rite Aid, Rivard Fine Jewelry and other retailers.
But one by one those tenants left, the property eventually grew up in weeds, and city council members lost their patience. Last year the city had the old shopping center demolished.
As part of the proceeds of Friday's sale, the city received a $293,000 check to recoup the demolition cost plus interest, Versailles City Attorney Bill Moore said. However, the bank subsidiary that sold the property is still in litigation with the city.
Versailles Land Group redeveloped the Kmart property on Nicholasville Road in Lexington, Mashni said.
"We brought in a Youfit Health Club, a Whitaker Bank and an out parcel with a couple of tenants, and put a new parking lot on it," Mashni said.
Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott said he was excited that the former flea market property has a new owner.
"It's the type of infill project that the community has asked for," Traugott said.
John Soper, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, said the purchase opens up possibilities for a property "that's been a sore spot for 15 years now or more."
"It's a very significant piece of property because it's got high visibility, and it's a key component to bring some of the quality-of-life amenities that the population has expressed they want," Soper said. "They want more restaurants, they want more retail options, they want more choices. Well, that's a prime piece of property to do that on."