Changes to Fayette County’s zoning ordinances — to allow the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream Research Park to add apartments, townhomes or condos to the 735-acre park — received first approval Thursday.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted unanimously to change the zoning ordinance to allow the research park to use as much as 15 percent of its land for multifamily housing or retail, apartments or townhomes. Some of the other changes include allowing for more density by requiring less greenspace around buildings and increasing allowed building heights.
The park off Newtown Pike on the north side of Lexington already is allowed to have some retail and hotels. The multi-family residences would be new.
Those changes to what is allowed in the office, industrial, research park, or P-2, zone now goes to Urban County Council for final approval.
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Coldstream is the only property in Lexington zoned P-2, and the designation will be changed to “university research campus” instead of “office, industrial, research park zone.”
UK Coldstream Research Park officials have said that adding residential units will allow it to attract more businesses to the research park. Isolated industrial and research parks are outdated. People want to live, work and shop in the same area, UK officials have said.
The 2009 UK Coldstream Research Park master plan recommended adding apartments or other multifamily units. Coldstream Research Park has struggled to attract businesses. UK has pondered making changes to the P-2 zone for nearly a decade.
“Multifamily housing will allow for the creation of a dynamic-live-work-play-learn environment to provide the social infrastructure necessary to drive the development of office and R&D (research and development) facilities,” wrote George Ward, executive director of Coldstream Research Park, in his October application for the P-2 zone text changes.
“This is about a better, more efficient research park,” said Nick Nicholson, a lawyer who represents Coldstream. The current lot size is five acres, but only 25 percent of it can be used for buildings, Nicholson said. “You have greenspace around buildings that is not usable and is not pedestrian-friendly.”
By decreasing some of those requirements, the park can add apartments and restaurants, and can increase the amount of land available for job creation, he said.
“We are doubling employment square footage,” Nicholson said. “Smaller parcels also make it more affordable.”
Those restaurants, hotels or apartments will be in the interior of the park, Nicholson said.
Currently, there is only one restaurant in the park, which houses 56 companies or organizations. About 2,300 people work there. There was no opposition to the changes to the P-2 zone during Thursday’s planning commission hearing. The Fayette Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates on land use, supported the change.