Fayette County

Whoops! Lexington's land-for-roads swap with UK could cost Lexpark $200,000 a year.

Jeremie Mitchell paid to park Tuesday afternoon on Lexington Avenue between Maxwell Street and Avenue of Champions. Lexpark says it will lose $200,000 in revenue from parking meters on streets the city will give to the University of Kentucky as part of a swap that involves streets for land for economic development.
Jeremie Mitchell paid to park Tuesday afternoon on Lexington Avenue between Maxwell Street and Avenue of Champions. Lexpark says it will lose $200,000 in revenue from parking meters on streets the city will give to the University of Kentucky as part of a swap that involves streets for land for economic development. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The Lexington parking authority could lose more than $200,000 a year when the University of Kentucky takes control of all or parts of more than a dozen streets in coming years as part of a swap that would give the city more than 250 acres of land for economic development.

When the city and UK tentatively agreed in November to the deal, the city failed to realize that many of those streets have Lexpark meters on them. The resulting loss of revenue from Lexpark meters and citations on those streets will be substantial, said Jim Frazier III, chairman of the Lexpark board.

The parking authority may have to look at increasing fine amounts, increasing the hours that parking meters are monitored or upping the amount to park once the transfer of those streets to UK is finalized, he said.

"It was an honest oversight," Frazier said.

An analysis of the streets potentially involved in the deal indicates the loss of revenue to Lexpark could top $215,000.

For example, the projected loss for Lexpark once UK takes control of Lexington Avenue from Maxwell Street to Avenue of Champions is $71,600 alone, according to information provided by Lexpark. Meters and citations on South Martin Luther King Boulevard net approximately $38,600. A section of Press Avenue that UK will eventually get generates $42,200 annually for the parking authority.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington, said city officials did not talk to Lexpark during early negotiations with UK on the complicated land-for-roads swap. But once the city learned of the potential problem for Lexpark, they alerted UK.

"We became aware of it several months ago and as soon as we did we raised the issue with UK," Straub said. "They decided to work directly with the parking authority."

The deal would give UK control of key streets or portions of streets it has wanted for years, including Rose Street, Hilltop Avenue, University Avenue and portions of other streets around the campus. In exchange, the city would get 50 acres of land inside UK's Coldstream Research Park and 200 acres off of Georgetown Road near Interstate 64 and Interstate 75.

Lexpark was created more than a decade ago, and receives no city funding. It uses revenue from parking and fines to maintain its four public parking garages, which lose money, Frazier said. Lexpark's total annual revenue is about $4.5 million.

Gary Means, the director of Lexpark, said a recent capital needs assessment "showed over $13 million in structural and mechanical repairs that will be needed in the next 20 years. We will be spending $3 million alone in the next two years on structural and mechanical repairs and replacements in the Lexpark parking garages."

"The cost to maintain those garages continues to go up," Frazier said. "The on-street metered parking pays for the off-street parking."

The parking meters closest to UK and in the city's downtown core are the most profitable, he said.

There is good news. The streets with meters on them won't be turned over to UK for four more years, said Jay Blanton, a spokesman for UK. That means the loss of revenue won't be immediate and the parking authority and the university can work on a transition plan.

"We understand and are sensitive to the fact that Lexpark has invested significant resources in parking meters adjacent to several of the streets that are being transferred as part of this important initiative," Blanton said. "We already are talking with Lexpark — and will continue to do so — to find a satisfactory solution that is in everyone’s best interests as we know this land swap is crucially important and beneficial to both the community and the university.”

More details about how the land swap will work and the timeline will be released at a special Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting Thursday.

Frazier said they are hoping for a smooth transition.

"I have talked to UK. We are going to sit down and figure out how we can phase this in," Frazier said.

The city is offering University of Kentucky control over Rose Street, Hilltop Avenue, University Avenue and other roads in exchange for land at Coldstream to build an industrial park.

These are the streets the city said in November it would turn over to UK:

Columbia Avenue between Rose and Woodland Dixie Court off Columbia:

Hilltop Avenue (entire)

Linden Walk between Rose Lane and Euclid Pennnsylvania Avenue off Columbia

Pennsylvania Court off Columbia

Rose Lane (entire)

Rose Street between Euclid and Columbia (UK has already closed Rose Street from Columbia to South Lime)

Weidman Alley

Woodland Avenue between Rose Lane and Hilltop Avenue

Callahan Alley off Maxwelton Court

Coliseum Alley off Rose Street

Conn Terrace between Elizabeth and South Lime

Elizabeth Street between Transcript and Waller

Avenue Gazette Avenue between Press Avenue and South Lime

Leader Avenue off Press Avenue

Lexington Avenue between Maxwell and Avenue of Champions

Press Avenue between Virginia Avenue and Transcript Avenue

South MLK Boulevard between Maxwell and Avenue of Champions

State Street between Elizabeth Street and South Limestone

Transcript Avenue between Press Avenue and South Limestone

University Avenue between Elizabeth Street and South Lime

Warren Court off South Limestone

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