Fayette County

UK plans to turn Kennedy’s Bookstore site into parking, retail space. See the plan.

UK plans to turn the former Kennedy’s Bookstore on South Limestone into new parking and retail space.
UK plans to turn the former Kennedy’s Bookstore on South Limestone into new parking and retail space. University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky will partner with a private real estate company to turn the former Kennedy’s Bookstore corner into 900 new parking spots, in addition to retail and “innovation” space.

“It going to be critical in making progress on the transportation master plan, but it’s so much more than a parking project,” said Melody Flowers, UK executive director for strategic analysis, of the $30 million project that will stretch along Winslow Street between South Limestone and Upper Street. “This is a mixed use opportunity to transform this critical property at the entrance to our campus with the use of ground floor retail and university innovation space.”

UK selected Signet Real Estate Group of Jacksonville, Fla. and Akron, Ohio to design, build and finance the project. Signet will provide the financing, and UK will enter into a 30-year lease for the project, paying Signet from parking and retail revenue. After 30 years, UK will own the building.

The project is due to be finished by August, 2020, Flowers said.

The parking will be attached to and part of the South Limestone #5 parking garage, which is used by numerous employees on central campus.

The retail space could include a restaurant or bar, while the innovation space could be used for coding or e-sports initiatives, said Eric Monday, UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration.

UK hopes the space will become part of a new area of campus that includes the new art building on Bolivar Street and a site for the College of Design at the former Reynolds building on South Broadway.

“We’re excited about how this can all work together with projects already underway,” Monday said.

Linda Blackford is an education and accountability reporter. She has covered K-12, higher education and other topics for the past 20 years at the Herald-Leader.