The University of Kentucky is moving ahead with plans to build retail space and more parking on an important piece of its north campus.
UK officials are working on a request for proposals for a private developer to build ground-floor retail and several floors of parking on what’s known as “the Winslow site” — the former Kennedy’s Bookstore complex and Fazoli’s restaurant, bordered by South Limestone, Winslow Street and South Upper Street.
It would be attached to UK’s South Limestone parking garage, matching it in height, officials said. The parking garage is seven floors high.
“It’s definitely first in the queue,” for building projects, said Melody Flowers, executive director for strategic analysis. “This is the one project we are moving forward with.”
The project will be put out to bid this fall, Flowers said, but she would not comment on the project’s possible costs.
UK had tried to acquire the property for years, succeeding last year in a complicated land swap.
A private developer, Core Campus Investment Partners, which also does business as Core Spaces, gave UK two parcels of land on Winslow Street between South Limestone and South Upper streets. In return, UK gave Core Spaces a 150-space parking lot on Jersey Street, along with several parcels at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Limestone.
A five-story development that will include a small-format Target store below four stories of student apartments is already under construction on the Jersey Street lot. It is due to open in the summer of 2019.
As state funding to universities has slowed to a trickle, UK has explored more development opportunities with private companies. About $450 million in new dorms have been built by Education Realty Trust, using long-term leases with UK. UK and EDR share the proceeds from student rent.
UK officials say they also are exploring ways to use private developers to build academic buildings, although it’s a more complicated proposition because those buildings don’t have an obvious revenue stream, such as rent or parking fees.