Elected officials expressed frustration this week that a new hotel hasn’t begun construction. They questioned whether the problem is a 33-year-old deed restriction that prohibits another restaurant from locating on a parcel next to a McDonald’s restaurant.
But Joe Graviss, who owns the McDonald’s franchise, said Wednesday that negotiations are progressing to ease that restriction and allow the property owner called Versailles Land Group to move forward with the hotel.
Graviss acknowledged that the process has not “moved as fast as anybody would have wanted.”
But he said, “There have been no stalls or delays at all. …In fact, there has been a lot happening.” Graviss said city officials are “not completely aware of everything that is going on.”
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A 1983 restriction prevents a restaurant from locating on the property once occupied by Versailles Center on the U.S. 60 Bypass. The Versailles Center property was purchased last year by Versailles Land Group for $1.08 million.
The restriction was part of an agreement struck between Masada Investment Associates and McDonald’s Corp. McDonald’s has a restaurant next to the property for an 82-room Holiday Inn Express.
John Soper, a consultant who contracts with the city to promote economic development, was asked about the status of the hotel at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Versailles City Council.
“I’m disappointed that we don’t have the hotel started by now,” Soper said.
He said a locally owned restaurant, whom he would not identify, is also interested in locating on the property.
Miller said her understanding is that McDonald’s Corp. is balking, not the local franchisee.
“That’s my understanding,” Soper said.
“Maybe we should approach McDonald’s Corporation,” Miller said.
“If you want me to try to do that, I will certainly try,” Soper said.
Miller said a hotel would only help McDonald’s. And she mentioned it’s possible a second hotel would consider locating on the site.
“We’re not hurting one hotel. We’re hurting a potential for a second one,” Miller said.
Graviss said his role is to be a “facilitator and mediator” between McDonald’s and Versailles Land Group. He said the likelihood of getting a signed contract with McDonald’s “is very good.”
“There’s a lot of work to be done … and we’re getting it done,” Graviss said.
Eli Mashni, a Lexington Realtor and a partner in Versailles Land Group, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The hotel is a centerpiece of an effort to bring new life to a property that once was occupied by an empty shopping center and parking lot covered in weeds. The city had the old shopping center torn down in 2014.