VERSAILLES — City Council hopes to remove some deed restrictions that hamper the future development of land where a shopping center is being demolished.
Deed restrictions still in force and dating back to the 1970s and 1980s prevent a restaurant or financial institution from locating on the property once occupied by Versailles Center on the U.S. 60 Bypass. If the property is to be revived, it would need restaurants, services and retailers to make it a destination.
The restaurant restriction is included in a 1983 agreement between Masada Investment Associates and McDonald's Corp, according to Woodford County records. The restriction on a financial institution is included in a 1978 agreement between Harold Mullis, Dudley Webb and Donald Webb doing business as Versailles Center Ltd. and United Bank & Trust Co., according to Woodford County records.
At Tuesday night's city council meeting, councilwoman Ann Miller asked Mayor Brian Traugott if he would direct City Attorney Bill Moore to look into the possibility of using eminent domain — the authority to condemn private property for public use — to remove those restrictions. "I'll gladly pursue any and all options," Traugott said.
Moore said the city might not have to invoke eminent domain if the city is able to negotiate a price for the fair cash value of the restrictions.
Before the shopping center was torn down, its tenants included Sweet Potatoes, a local restaurant, and a branch of Greater Kentucky Credit Union. Moore didn't know how those businesses were able to locate in the center in spite of the deed restrictions. But it's possible the restrictions didn't apply to those because neither were stand-alone buildings with drive-through windows.
Or, Moore said, "They may have come before the restrictive covenants were recorded."
Meanwhile, Joe Graviss, who owns the franchise that has several Central Kentucky McDonald's restaurants, including the one next to Versailles Center, said he is amenable to talking with anyone about the center's future success.
"I feel like I'm at a table of one. I need other people at the table," he said. "We all want the Versailles Center to prosper."
The city will pay $268,000 to have the center torn down and the debris hauled away. The city plans to recoup that cost by putting lien on the property. That way, should a developer buy the property, the city will be the first in line to be paid.