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Panda Express expected to buy Richmond Road site from Southland Christian Church

The former BP station on Richmond Road near the former Lexington Mall in February 2011. The gas station has since been razed, and the property is being sold, with plans for a Panda Express restaurant.
The former BP station on Richmond Road near the former Lexington Mall in February 2011. The gas station has since been razed, and the property is being sold, with plans for a Panda Express restaurant. Herald-Leader

Southland Christian Church expects to close a real estate deal soon that would bring a Panda Express restaurant to the perimeter of its Richmond Road campus.

The half-acre property, near Newk's Eatery and Home Depot, is the former site of a BP gas station that was demolished last year.

"Obviously it was part of the property that we didn't need in order to carry out the functions of the church," said Kurt Braun, Southland's executive director of operations and advancement. Selling the property "made sense from a stewardship standpoint."

Braun declined to say how much money Southland expects to get from the deal but said the company buying the property was "related to Panda Express restaurants."

The Chinese-food chain already has restaurants on Nicholasville Road and at the University of Kentucky.

Southland also expects to sell an adjoining property to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for a water-mitigation project. Braun said the church had no other plans to sell or develop the rest of its land on Richmond Road.

When the church bought the dilapidated Lexington Mall and surrounding property from B.F. Saul Co., a realty firm in Washington D.C., the deal didn't include the BP station. But the gas station was in poor condition and had been abandoned for some time, so the church bought it for aesthetic reasons.

"The building was literally falling apart," Braun said. "We were uncomfortable with that being the entryway to our property."

Now that the surrounding area has been revitalized by the church and new restaurants, companies expressed interest in buying the former gas station lot, he said.

"We obviously are thrilled with the way we've been able to change that neighborhood," Braun said. "It made sense to have a conversation with the folks who are in retail."

The Urban County Government Planning Commission is expected to consider a revised development plan for the property on Aug. 13.

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