The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees voted Friday to approve a land swap with a private developer that could potentially create two new mixed-use developments and give UK a key block of land near its campus.
As part of the deal, Core Campus Investment Partners, which also does business as Core Spaces, will give UK two parcels of land on Winslow Street between South Limestone and South Upper streets. The Kennedy book store and a former Fazoli’s restaurant are on that block. UK has tried to acquire the land for years.
UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday said the university does not have immediate plans for the block but will be putting together a group to look at best uses for the property. It’s adjacent to one of the university’s busiest parking garages. It’s possible that parking garage could be expanded, Monday said.
In exchange, UK will give Core Spaces a 150-space parking lot on Jersey Street. Core Spaces will also receive several parcels the university owns at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Limestone. The company has said it intends to turn both areas into a mixed-use developments that could include ground-level retail and private student housing on the top floors.
The land that Core Spaces will receive on Virginia Avenue is zoned residential. Both the Winslow Street and Jersey Street properties are in the business zone. UK has pledged to support any zone changes or variances Core Spaces may need to develop the properties. The company is based in Chicago and develops high-end private campus housing. Many of Core Spaces student complexes are high-rises.
“The urban infill projects will result in high-end properties in key locations in the vibrant city of Lexington and immediately adjacent to the university, which is our core mission when entering new markets,” said Tom Harrington Jr., director of acquisitions for Core Spaces.
The block of Winslow Street will become more important in coming years after the expansion of Newtown Pike is completed and more traffic enters the campus from that area.
Monday told the finance committee of the board of trustees Friday that the value of the land on Jersey Street and Virginia Avenue is about $4.5 million. The value of the block on Winslow Street that UK is receiving is estimated to be more than $4.5 million, Monday said.
In addition, the trustees also approved the purchase of parcel of land on South Limestone and Scott streets for $1.15 million. Monday said the Scott Street property will replace the 100 spaces lost on Jersey Street. About 50 of the 150 parking spaces are used by area businesses.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray praised the land swap Friday, saying the city and the university have tried to work together to improve the commercial corridors around the state’s flagship university.
“This is a big win, one that represents two additional major investments in Lexington,” Gray said. “We’re excited to have more mixed use development that’s a short walk to downtown and campus.”
UK President Eli Capilouto said the two new developments will create more jobs in Lexington and create a better campus.
“In partnership with Mayor Gray, we have a substantial opportunity to continue the transformation of our campus,” Capilouto said. “At the same time, this proposal allows us — working with the private sector — to contribute in a substantive and meaningful way to the continued revitalization of an increasingly vibrant downtown and the commercial corridors that connect campus to the community.”