Fayette County

Proposal for townhouses on Versailles Road across from Calumet Farm gets green light

Bird’s-eye view of The Silks, luxury lots to be developed close to downtown, the airport and Keeneland

The Silks development on Versailles Road includes 13 luxury lots, trees that may be centuries old, elaborate fountains and a historic house that the Kentucky Historical Society has dubbed the "John Clay House."
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The Silks development on Versailles Road includes 13 luxury lots, trees that may be centuries old, elaborate fountains and a historic house that the Kentucky Historical Society has dubbed the "John Clay House."

A large townhouse development for seniors on Versailles Road across from Calumet Farm got its first approval Thursday.

The Silks, at 1500-1561 Winners Circle and 3298-3300 Versailles Road, will include 45 town houses and a central club house on approximately 13 acres near Blue Grass Airport.

The Urban County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the zone change Thursday from a single-family zone to a planned residential zone. The zone change now goes to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council for final approval.

The Easley and Faust Properties development has a two-story historic house in the center of the property. That house will be used as a clubhouse. Winners Circle goes around that house. The town houses will be placed around Winners Circle facing the clubhouse.

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Plans to develop a 13 acre area off of Versailles Road will be considered by the Urban County Planning Commission this week, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The land is currently zoned for a single family home. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

City zoning staff recommended approval of the zone change but recommended a 100-foot buffer adjacent to Versailles Road that includes a tree preservation area.

Jacob Walbourn, a lawyer who represents the developer, told the commission the development will be age-restricted for those age 55 and up. It will be an upscale development. Walbourn said many seniors are looking to downsize and there is a lack of townhouses for seniors on the market.

“This has proven to be an extremely popular concept and we will have no problem selling these units,” Walbourn said.

Robert Easley, one of the developers, said he met three times with the Wellesley Heights neighborhood, which is adjacent to the property. “I’m working with them on acceptable screening trees for that area.”

Many neighbors said they weren’t opposed to the townhouses but said the developers did not meet with the neighborhood until after they filed for the zone change.

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Plans to develop a 13 acre area off of Versailles Road will be considered by the Urban County Planning Commission this week, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The land is currently zoned for a single family home. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Neighbors also asked for a restriction limiting the development to 45 or 50 housing unit. Neighbors also said they wanted a note on the final development plan that protects the existing house on the property. Many also wanted an eight-foot wall instead of a six-foot fence along the property line with Wellesley Heights.

Neighbors said they wanted the restriction on the number of units because they were concerned the townhouse development might not work and apartments or another development would be proposed.

Walbourn said there was no need for a restriction on the number of units. The developer would have to return to the planning commission if the townhouse development didn’t work out.

There was also no need to put a note on the plan to protect the historic home, he said.

“Our intent is to preserve the house,” Walbourn said. “There has been an extreme amount of money put into it.”

Walbourn said a city ordinance requires a six-foot barrier between the neighborhood and the proposed development.

But planning staff said the six-foot height was a minimum requirement. The developer could have an eight-foot-wall. Eventually, the developer agreed to the eight-foot wall during Thursday’s meeting.

Paul Natof, who lives in Wellesley Heights, said at one point there were plans for about a dozen single-family homes for that site. But those lots didn’t sell, he said. That’s why the neighborhood is concerned the townhouses may not work either.

Natof said developers met with the neighborhood only after the zone change was filed.

“It was supposed to be before the process begins,” Natof said. “We did not have any engagement with the applicant in the process.”

Jim Taylor, another Wellesley Heights resident, agreed. They aren’t opposed to development, he said.

“It’s not that we are in opposition to this. We would like to see a great development there but we were left out of the process,” Taylor said.

Walbourn disagreed and said the developer met with the neighborhood on multiple occasions.

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