Developer proposes larger Kroger for Versailles

VERSAILLES — A proposed development would put a larger Kroger across U.S. 60 from the existing Kroger in Versailles.

Nicklies Development of Louisville wants to build a 125,000-square-foot Kroger on a vacant lot that Lowe's had considered some years ago. That size Kroger is comparable to the Kroger MarketPlace stores in Beaumont and on Richmond Road in Lexington.

The current Kroger in Versailles was built in 1994 and has 77,000 square feet. It was remodeled a few years ago.

David Nicklies told the Versailles City Council on Tuesday night that he also hopes to bring a 130-seat restaurant, a dry cleaner, and other small retailers. He said he has spoken with Starbucks about bringing a stand-alone store with a drive-through window to Versailles, and he said he has also spoken with a regional coffee shop.

Three out lots would be available for restaurants. Nicklies said he hopes to convince Chik-Fil-A to locate on the property.

Nicklies, who has developed a number of shopping centers in Louisville, including some that had Kroger stores, told the council that "We're close to wrapping up our agreements with Kroger." He hopes to break ground on Feb. 3 and to have the new Kroger open in the first quarter of 2015.

In a related matter, the council held a public hearing to amend a 2010 plan for tax-increment financing. As amended, the new plan would include the proposed Kroger property as well as the Versailles Center property next door.

In October 2010, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval for a TIF plan for The Paddocks of Woodford.

That development was to have put a 65-room motel, office space, mixed-use space, restaurants and retail stores on the Versailles Center property.

Under a TIF plan, the state approves money to pay for infrastructure improvements such as sewer and water lines, utility lines and sidewalks. The money would be repaid with tax money generated by the project.

Because Nicklies hopes to start soon, Versailles officials hope to get the new TIF application to Frankfort in time for approval at KEDFA's January meeting.

The council voted Tuesday to pay a firm called Commonwealth Economics $15,000 to assist the city in shepherding the project.

Meanwhile, the city also heard from Joe Markham, who hopes to buy the Versailles Center property. The city had planned to have the old shopping center demolished, but the bank that owns the property filed suit to stop the demolition. Markham wants to salvage the property by repairing the roof, putting a new facade on it and attracting new stores. Markham had Brian Hill of the CMW architecture firm in Lexington give a presentation on how that could be done.

Because the matter is in litigation, city attorney Bill Moore suggested that he, Markham and the current owner, PBI Bank, discuss ways to resolve the situation with specific plans and a specific timetable that could be presented to the city council.