UK trustees approve plan to buy University Lofts building for arts space

The University of Kentucky trustees on Tuesday approved a plan that would move student art areas from the decaying Reynolds Building to a loft apartment building nearby.

Audience members erupted into a cheering standing ovation, which was joined by faculty trustee Everett McCorvey, when trustees approved a proposal to buy the University Lofts building, located next to campus on Bolivar Street.

UK said that the lofts have a similar usable square footage as the Reynolds Building, at about 100,000 square feet.

UK would convert the building into an open floor plan with specialized air exhaust systems for certain fine arts needs, new lighting and accessible restrooms.

The Reynolds Building included restrooms that didn't have lockable doors, only curtains; it also had narrow staircases, HVAC problems and wiring worries.

The proposed acquisition of University Lofts is budgeted at $6.7 million, with an $8 million renovation. UK had originally budgeted $17 million to revamp the Reynolds Building.

The Reynolds Building would be converted to a storage facility.

Because much of University Lofts is already rented as housing, the earliest renovation could begin is July 2012. UK hopes that the property can be used for art students beginning in the fall of 2013.