Woodford County

Agreement extends option to buy 172-acre Midway parcel

A Lexington developer will continue to have an option to purchase a Midway commercial park for three more years.

The deal, approved Jan. 3, came after several weeks of negotiations in which it appeared developer Dennis Anderson, who had a previous purchase agreement on the land northeast of Interstate 64 and Ky. 341, was prepared to walk away from the property.

But under the latest agreement approved by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, Anderson will have an option on Midway Station through 2013, said EDA chairman Michael Duckworth.

The agreement keeps alive potential development for the land and also means tax dollars won't have to be used to pay hefty monthly interest payments on the property's bonded indebtedness, said Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth.

"If this deal had not gone through ... the city of Midway and Woodford Fiscal Court would have to pay interest on that bond," Bozarth said. So the situation "went from a dark cloud to a little sunshine."

Anderson has been interested in the property since 2007, when he signed a purchase agreement to buy 172 acres for $6.5 million.

But the economy tanked in 2008, hampering Anderson's plans to build 605 single-family houses and townhouses, an 80-room hotel and 3.5 miles of walking trails.

A one-year extension on the original deal expired Dec. 1. In recent weeks, it had appeared Anderson might walk away from the property if he could not obtain a multi-year extension on the option.

But Anderson participated in negotiations with Duckworth, Bozarth and EDA member Malcolm Endicott. The result of those talks was a new three-year option agreement that was approved by the full EDA board on Jan. 3.

Anderson may exercise an option to buy the property at any time during those three years, Duckworth said.

In the meantime, Anderson will continue paying an option fee that will be used for the $4.7 million bonded indebtedness on the property, Duckworth said. He declined to say what the monthly option fee is, but monthly interest on the property is more than $11,500, or nearly $138,500 a year. Bozarth said the monthly interest will be shared by EDA and Anderson. Anderson also agrees to keep the property mowed.

Anderson is perhaps best known for Townley Centre, a development with a mix of restaurants, retail stores, professional offices and homes on Leestown Road across from Meadowthorpe subdivision in Lexington.

The Midway Station property initially was zoned for industrial uses before it was rezoned in 2008 for residential uses. Epiphany Foam Insulation, Reed Utilities and AST Environmental also have properties there.

The Midway Station property was considered in 2006-07 as a new location for Blue Grass Stockyards, but the company decided not to move there in the face of public opposition and problems in reaching terms for a purchase contract.

During the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last year, the Midwway Station property was the temporary site of recreational vehicles used as housing for visitors and workers at the games.

The EDA is still owed $15,000 from Raymond Brody, owner of Camper's Corner RV Supercenter near Nashville, for the lease of the property as a temporary RV park. Brody had made an initial $15,000 payment.

Camper's Corner has since filed for bankruptcy, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nashville. The EDA's claim will become part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Duckworth said.

Brody also owes a little more than $9,000 to Midway City Council, Bozarth said. The city charged Brody a fee for each RV unit put on the property, and that totaled about $9,200.

Brody has paid "a couple of thousand dollars" for the use of Midway water and sewage, Bozarth said.

Brody was also late in removing the RVs from the property. He had said during an April 29 meeting in Midway that all the RVs would be off the property by Oct. 25, but it was closer to Thanksgiving before they were gone. The Games were Sept. 25 to Oct. 10.

Despite those problems, Bozarth said the temporary RV park was worthwhile because of the exposure and tourists it brought to Midway.

"We had a lot of people that visited Midway, they had dinner in Midway, they shopped in Midway," Bozarth said.