North Limestone apartment infill begins to take shape

Arlington Lofts, to be built on North Limestone on either side of Embrace Church, will bring 81 new apartments to the North Limestone corridor.
Arlington Lofts, to be built on North Limestone on either side of Embrace Church, will bring 81 new apartments to the North Limestone corridor. Rendering submitted

Coming to North Limestone in 2017: 81 new apartments, right in the heart of one of Lexington’s most prosperous infill corridors.

The Arlington Lofts — formerly called the Arlington Studios — will include two buildings, one on either side of Embrace Church across Limestone from Arlington Elementary School. The project will include high quality construction and sustainability with modern design while integrating tastefully into the existing neighborhood, designers say.

Construction on the project, designed by Lexington architect Van Meter Pettit and Forge Craft in Austin, Texas, will begin in late spring or early summer, with completion about a year later. Leasing availability will begin in spring 2017. The project will cost $6-7 million.

The units will rent for $500-800 a month including utilities — a low price for apartments inside New Circle Road, said developer Bruce Nicol., a website for low-income renters, lists Lexington’s median rent city-wide as $755 a month.

The accessibility to downtown is what is so exciting to us.

Developer Bruce Nicol

NoLi Community Development President and area resident Griffin Van Meter likes the concept for the lofts because it provides affordable and innovative design and is a mixed-use project that will give residents on-site amenities such as retail and dining, he said. The North Limestone area is becoming more desirable to a more affluent group of people, but there’s still not enough affordable housing city-wide.

“There’s a huge need for affordability,” Van Meter said.

A recent Lexington housing market study emphasized the need for more affordable rental housing, particularly inside New Circle Road, traditionally a boundary between downtown and the suburbs, said Jim Duncan, Lexington city planner.

The 2009 study said, “there exists a greater appetite for higher density product and diverse communities where residents are motivated by proximity to work, walkable environment, and access to green space,” within New Circle Road.

Arlington Lofts also meets a need in Lexington for smaller housing options for smaller household sizes — which Duncan said will be needed throughout the city.

Before beginning to build, the area’s swampy landscape had to be fixed through a process of layering and permeable pavers that will better drain rainwater, Nicol said. The $400,000 project included $225,000 in funding from the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government.

“The accessibility to downtown is what is so exciting to us,” Nicol said about the location.

The complex will include space for commercial tenants, possibly a coffee house as well as shops and restaurants that would serve renters and other neighborhood residents, Nicol said.

The apartment complex is seeking a LEED green building certification, Nicol said, and will contain energy-efficient appliances.

While tiny apartments are not yet the norm in Lexington, areas with high housing demand, such as New York and Washington, D.C., already see rents from $1,200 to $1,500 for studio spaces smaller than 500 square feet.

Including the utilities in the rent is a good idea because of the Arlington Lofts’ energy efficiency: As other apartment rates go up, Nicol figures, his units will stay competitive.

As the North Limestone corridor — known as the NoLi District — continues to pick up steam with new businesses, including restaurateur Lucie Slone’s plan to open a new eatery nearby, Nicol thinks the apartments will fill up quickly.

$500-800Estimated rent cost for the apartments

Arlington Lofts will be the first Fayette County development to use mixed-income housing guidelines for those earning up to 80 percent of area median household income for single and double occupancy. In the Lexington Fayette metropolitan statistical area, that is $38,200; for two-person households, it’s $43,650.

Although some neighbors had concerns about the apartments bringing increased density and traffic to the North Limestone neighborhood, Nicol said that using infill for land that was previously unused is giving the property “a higher and better use. I see incredible opportunity.”

Nicol will continue owning and managing the property after it is built and is eager to see what the ultimate tenant mix turns out to be.

“We don’t know who our potential tenants are right now,” he said.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman