A Chicago-based developer wants to build two multistory apartment and retail complexes for students near the University of Kentucky campus.
Neighbors close to one of the proposed new developments say they plan to oppose it at a Thursday meeting because the building is too tall and has too few parking spaces, among other concerns.
Core Spaces wants to build a five- and six-story building called the Hub at 500 South Upper on what is now a parking lot between Jersey Street and South Upper Street. The northern portion of the building near Pine Street would be five stories and the rest six stories. It would include 150 apartments with as many as 480 bedrooms, along with 20,000 square feet of retail on the first floor.
Core Spaces has also proposed a similar development at the corner of Virginia Avenue and South Limestone, called the Hub at 685 South Limestone. That development is slated to be six or seven stories, according to documents submitted to Lexington city planners.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Planning Commission is expected to take a vote on the development plans for the Hub at 500 South Upper on Thursday afternoon. It is slated to consider a zone change for the 1.35 acre development on South Limestone near the end of the month. Core Spaces wants to rezone the property from a residential to business zone.
Officials with Core Spaces declined to comment for this story.
Nathan Billings, a lawyer who represents the Historic South Hill Neighborhood Association, which is close to 500 South Upper, said six stories is too tall for the area. The nearby Center Court development on South Upper is four stories high.
He also said plans for the Hub on South Upper show only 148 parking spaces. Roughly 75 of those parking spaces are for retail, leaving only 75 spots for potentially 500 students. That’s not enough parking, which is already at a premium in the area, Billings said
Although Core Spaces officials have told neighbors that fewer students bring cars to college, UK data show that about 44 percent of students living in undergraduate housing have a car, Billings said.
“That will push parking into the neighborhood streets,” Billings said. “Parking is already a problem in that area.”
Some neighbors have been told the retail space will be a Target, but Billings said it’s not clear if that is true. Target did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Other developments with bottom floor retail and top floor apartments — such as Center Court and The Lex on South Broadway — have struggled to keep retail tenants, Billings said.
“The neighborhood is not opposed to the project in concept,” Billings said. “The neighborhood is opposed to the project as it is proposed.”
The properties for both developments were part of a land swap between Core Spaces and UK that was approved by the UK Board of Trustees in June.
As part of the deal, Core Spaces is giving UK two parcels of land on Winslow Street between South Limestone and South Upper streets. Kennedy’s Wildcat Den and a former Fazoli’s restaurant are on that block. UK has tried to acquire the land for years. UK has not said what it will do with the land, but has agreed not to put a big-box retailer on the Kennedy’s lot.
In exchange, UK is giving Core Spaces the Jersey Street lot and several parcels it owned at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Limestone.
The property transfers are not yet complete and it’s not clear if the land swap is contingent on Core Spaces getting approval from the planning commission for both projects.
Jay Blanton, a spokesman for UK, said the two sides are still negotiating. “But that doesn’t preclude Core from working toward approval of the zoning it needs for development of the property,” he said.
Core Spaces has several types of student properties, according to its website. It’s Hub brand of properties have been built in several other college towns. including Madison, Wis.; Oxford, Miss.; and Columbia, S.C.