Garden designer Carloftis will bring ‘farm chic’ to Summit shopping center

Jon Carloftis sported his AGR fraternity cap alongside his partner Dale Fisher and their English Labradors Gertrude, left, and Lily. The two tractors will be used as sculptural accents among the landscaping at The Summit at Fritz Farm.
Jon Carloftis sported his AGR fraternity cap alongside his partner Dale Fisher and their English Labradors Gertrude, left, and Lily. The two tractors will be used as sculptural accents among the landscaping at The Summit at Fritz Farm.

Celebrated Kentucky garden designer Jon Carloftis wants people who shop, eat, live or work at The Summit at Fritz Farm to remember the site’s agricultural legacy.

With the face of retail changing, it is important to attract both the right mix of retailers and the right foot traffic, developer Bayer Properties said in announcing his hiring.

“Developers are going beyond just building mixed-use developments. With today’s emphasis on place-making, authenticity is key to success, and every detail becomes purposeful, right down to creating a unique environment.”

Carloftis has been hired to work with landscape architects Nimrod Long and Associates on the 60-acre, $156 million mixed-use project, which will include 75 restaurants and stores, a boutique hotel, grocery store, condos and offices.

“Fritz Farm dates back to the Revolutionary War and includes many beautiful artifacts on the property,” said Lindsay Bayer-Shipp, retail brand strategist for Bayer Properties. “We feel responsible for honoring the heritage of this property and telling its story to a new generation of visitors and residents.”

Carloftis, whose work has been featured in magazines including Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Garden Design, Better Homes & Gardens and Country Living, will bring the kind of charm and easy elegance that has made his work as popular in New York and Hollywood as Kentucky.

“We’re the style people,” Carloftis said. “We’re doing farm chic.”

His goal is to highlight something in the design that will resonate with Kentuckians. And for the former Alpha Gamma Rho social secretary, that means heavy on the farm.

“Farm-to-table may come in and out of fashion, but in Lexington and Kentucky, the farm will never lose its reverence,” Carloftis said. “Everyone comes here because of the farms.”

So Carloftis put out a call through his former AGR frat brothers: anybody have any old farm implements? Tractors that don’t have engines? Useless machinery?

“We’ve luckily found it all in one-stop shopping, from an 85-year-old fraternity brother. I went on his farm, and he had all these beautiful, but obsolete, farm implements,” Carloftis said. “I bought three empty tractors from him, a combine, a tobacco setter. It’s gorgeous stuff. It’s just great pieces of art.”

And that’s exactly what he plans to do with them: turn them into art. He is having them sandblasted, painted high-gloss silver and and will put them on limestone pedestals as sculpture around the development.

But the nod to agriculture won’t be just ornamental. Carloftis wants people at the development to keep the former farm going, in a sense.

He will use his signature galvanized steel water troughs as raised-bed vegetable and herb gardens that restaurants and people living on the site could eat from. And as the development grows, the garden beds can be picked up and moved. Around the site will be plantings of his favorite native plants, including a water drainage basin with willows and water irises to help purify the parking lot runoff.

He hopes to work with incoming pledge classes of his fraternity house at the University of Kentucky to keep the garden in shape.

The development will have “pocket parks” throughout to provide shoppers, workers and residents places to enjoy the outdoors and even dine, Bayer-Shipp said.

“It is important to us that The Summit at Fritz Farm is purposeful in its design. The retailers that are coming to the property expect a sense of place. In fact, the innovative brands we are attracting such as Bonobos, Cos Bar, Shake Shack and James Beard nominee Chef Ouita Michel have all selected The Summit at Fritz Farm because of our commitment to offering an experience that complements their brand image,” said Bayer-Shipp.

The first phase of The Summit at Fritz Farm is scheduled to open March 29. Other restaurants and stores include Whole Foods, Pottery Barn, Babalu, Lily Rain, Brooks Brothers, Water + Oak, J. McLaughlin, Kendra Scott, Orvis, Steel City Pops, J. Alexander’s and Ted’s Montana Grill.

There also will be a food hall, now to be called The Barn, with six local restaurateurs including Crank & Boom and Athenian Grill.

Carloftis said he wants them to remember that this shopping center isn’t The Summit, it’s The Summit at Fritz Farm.

“The farm is part of our culture,” Carloftis said.